Milan-born designer Rodolfo Dordoni is a very busy man. Among others, he has designed with – deep breath – Vistosi, Barovier & Toso, Moroso, Foscarini, Brosis, Cidue, Ferlea, Halifax, Imel, Tisettanta, Artemide, De Sede, Driade, Crasseveig. Montina, Acerbis, Arteluce, Casakit, Sarila, Venini, Flos, Lema, FontanaArte, Schopenhauer, Minotti, Flou, Molteni, Jab and Dornbracht. You can see his beautiful new Set kitchen for Molteni&C Dada in the September issue of Livingetc, but let’s meet the man himself…
What was your first experience of ‘design’? My first experience of design was as 13 year old trying to decide what kind of secondary school I would attend. The natural choice for me was to go to design school, the Academy of Brera in Milan.
When did you realize that this could be your life and career? At 13 I didn’t know what a designer was. However when I went on to study architecture, the option became apparent because all designers were architects. All I wanted to do was draw.
Were you an academic or rule-breaking student? I was a real rule-breaker at secondary school but once I went on to study architecture I loved drawing so much that it consumed me. I wanted to create beautiful art.
You studied architecture, how does this practice influence your product design work? My architecture study is a reference, its character that influences me most.
Which design movement do you most associate with? I identify most with the rationalist movement. This is a period where the relationship between project and technology were really connected. Now concept leads projects and is more influential.
How can people recognize a Rodolfo Dordoni design? I try to do something that is consistent. I like to pay attention to detail and quality. I produce quire design. It is discreet. I also like to imprint my sense of proportion onto my products
And Italian design in general, does it have a DNA? Italian design is a mix of creativity. It is subject o your locale. Aesthetics have always been important to Italians from the Renaissance to ancient Rome. Beautiful things are a constant in our daily lives. Aesthetics come naturally to Italians. We also have a very good industrial system to give opportunity to designers to develop an idea. This mix creates the DNA of Italian design.
How do you find inspiration? Through curiosity. I try to observe everything. These observations remain in my mind and come to surface when I need them. People’s attitudes also inspire me.
What is your design studio like? My studio is a warehouse in Milan; open plan space so we can all work together. It is a collaborative environment with no hierarchy.
How do you like to begin your working day? I always begin with walking my dog Rocco.
What makes you happy about your work? I am happy that I can do work that I like. I feel very lucky.
And frustrated? I find arrogance frustrating. I also don’t like it when people don’t do their job properly or undertake a job they aren’t trained for.
What do you consider to be beautiful in design? Having the opportunity to see and realize a dream or a sensation. Beauty in design is realized in its appropriateness for the user. I also enjoy giving someone else the ability to build what they like and to make people happy.
And ugly? Arrogance and showiness.
How do you feel when you see people using your products in their everyday lives, your friends or family, for example? Embarrassed! I never suggest my own products to people. I am a bit shy about it.
What’s your own home like? Private, very private. I don’t have a lot of furniture. I have a lot of different spaces with different feelings in each. It is very atmospheric.
What do you do when you want to switch off from work? I never switch off in a normal day. I take inspiration from everywhere so I can’t stop thinking about work! When I holiday I erase my brain and I am quiet and I recharge.
Which is your favorite city in the world? Rome. It is the most beautiful city; not in a nostalgic way for the ancient elements but I find whenever I turn a corner beauty shocks me. Rome emotionally strengthens me. I love cities where it is beautiful to walk.
If you could travel in time, where would you go? London, anytime in the past. The layers of history are fascinating.