Interview - Hiroshi Ono

Hiroshi Ono
President Happy Design

 From: Milano, Italy

When did you discover 3D? What programs/plugins/scripts do you use? 
This is an old story… I have been the first Designer in Italy to use the program Pro-Engineer, at times when renders used to be made by hand and 3D was futuristic. Those days, 15 years ago, the earlier version was Pro-Designer for surfaces designing, and only later it was integrated in to the pack Pro/E as the advanced Ssurfaces part of the main program Pro-Engineer. Today I use mainly Pro-Engineer for 3D modeling.

How do you keep up with all the changes in technology? 
Thanks to a close relations with Parametric Design, I have the advantage of being constantly up dated with recent technology. Nevertheless I believe that technology is only an instrument, while other important factors stays as always.
With the market becoming more and more competitive, what do you believe is a must that an artist has in his portfolio or skills?

I always say that a designer is not necessarily an artist. Though having talent is important, I believe the most important skill a designer should have is the ability to analyze the clients’ needs and wills. Without the understanding of what the client wants there would be no progress in fact I believe design should not only creativity but creativity with strategy.
The Guzzini Series design has a great feedback. What were the challenges on this project? Can you give us an insight on the process, the goals of the project and the difficult parts?

Guzzini is known to be a leader company in the field, making a verity of different products. Designing a product for a company of such, requires the fully understanding of the company’s line in order to make a design that could go along with their products. Nevertheless, as always I try to follow my own clean and essential line but never conceiving a boring design.
What was the most difficult part in the Graco project?
The most difficult part in that project was the demands of the company. In my style of work I start working immediately in 3D, thus in order to apprehend the dimensions, proportion and geometry. Being more traditional they wanted to see actual hand sketches and drawing even though I have already made a full 3D model and renderings… As satisfaction of a client is very important to me, I made a drawing using the finished renders…

Do you recognize differences between product designers? How does your style compare to the best you’ve seen?

I distinguish between designers that are occupied mostly with the aesthetic appearance of a product while others gives the engineering aspects of it. The Artistic designer and the Engineer designer. In my case my studio has both sides very strong. We give the aesthetic aspect AND the technique support. One of the reasons for that remain the fact we are a small studio and therefore I am able to control each and every phase of the services we give.
How do you start working on a product? Do you use references or just imagination? 
The first thing I do when I work on a project is evaluating the technical constrains the product has. Once that is established I have a clearer sight about where am I free to play and design. Without establishing restrains it’s difficult to design things that would also work in real life…

References are an important tool to arouse the imagination nevertheless I believe u shouldn’t have too much of it or ells you will be too influenced by other designs and be less capable of innovating.
How important is it to have a proper education in this field?
For my opinion designing  things so they could be manufactured later would be impossible if one doesn’t know anything about production and manufacturing. A decent technique knowledge always serves. Though designing beautiful things for the public is something one cannot learn without trying. I don’t think that design needs theory, but I think designers need theory.

Do you still find time for your own projects? What do you have up your sleeve for future projects?
I rarely find the time for my own personal projects though I sometimes insert some elements of my own in different works. As for future projects, I have been working lately for the Italian company Blurosso on the project I-TV (intelligent TV) a new kind of home entertainment smart system that follows today’s tendencies.  It is a 55” television which above having all the latest and finest TV features (LED/LCD, Blue-ray technology, advanced sound system  etc), includes all important internet applications (Skype, Facebook, Google etc).  The product designated to a prestigious high end market and the company is currently collaborating  with Microsoft, what renders the product worldwide.
 I am looking forward for this future product to get on the market and very proud to take part in such innovative project.

We know the “ups”, but tell us about the “downs” in your career.  Was it an easy ride (from Japan to Italy)?
As a young designer in Japan I never had it easy. I felt like an outsider there. Italy on the other hand I like a lot and love the field of design here. Therefore I may say the change wasn’t hard on me but good.  When I opened my own studio things weren’t easy, but I wasn’t expecting easy… it is only reasonable not to have too many clients at the beginning, but the choice to leave the studio where I worked before was very right in retrospective.

Which design do you believe was the most difficult to achieve? (How did you do it?)
The most difficult design for me is always the next assignment… finding a solution is the hard part and therefore  what was already achieved is no longer difficult even in retrospective. Each design is a new task that requires effort, and it’s only a matter of time until you find the right solution.
What’s the one project that you received the most praise for?

For me the true award is being able to give a new product to the world which people can use and have benefit from. I would say the coffee machine “Guzzini-Lavazza LB-Guzzini” was the most awarded project I did (being published widely). But also the new “Guzzini single” gets allot of attention. 

What is your favorite product?
I’m not the kind of person that get obsessed with stuff. Like some do with their cellular phones. Nevertheless  among my personal objects I would say the Rayban sunglasses are my favorites.
If you had the opportunity to spend a day with anyone from this industry, who would it be?
In the design industry it is very difficult to say… But if I get to enlarge the choice by a bit, I would say Yoko Ono, because her name sounds good.