Alberto LAgo

Alberto Lago in conversation with North Lands Creative Director Karen Phillips.

PROJECT ACTIVITY - Glass Nexus forum

PARTNER - north lands creative

YEAR - 2019 / 2020

1. We’d love to gain an insight into your background in the design sector. Where did this initially begin for you and how has this developed?

As a child I grew up in a cabinet making shop were my father introduce me to the fantastic world of wood with its grain and texture all different from each other. The diversity and unpredictability of each wood pattern got me inside in an unexpected way that I decide to change completely field rather than continue with my family business. This is why I decided to study Engineering/Architecture at University. The main reason was to study the physics and the aesthetic of each choice you have to make while designing a piece and the only place and time in your life you can learn this is at the University. This is why I went deep into different fields of engineering/architecture through achieving one bachelor, three masters and a doctorate degree, in between Italy, USA and Germany.

These led me to the design the most desirable architecture element in the world: a skyscraper. The king of buildings that rise up in our cities as trees do in a forest.

This exponential desire for design in the widest sense of the term, brought me to go back to exploring my original roots of maker and designer. This is why I decided to start creating things that are useful and beautiful, because as Ettore Sottsass says: “if there is one thing that can save us: this is the beauty”.

2. What does your role involve working at Salviati?

In Salviati, I am the art director as well as one of their designer. My daily work involves coordinating the production and artistic path of the brand but most important means respecting 160 years of tradition. However, at the same time it is important to keep innovating in a field that is founded on ancient techniques.

This is the most intriguing goal to achieve because in every piece made by Salviati you can find tradition, innovation and a soul.

Alberto Lago Drawing in Salviati (Murano, Italy)

3. What advice would you give to people thinking of pursuing a career in the creative industry?

I do believe that any good advice that works for making us better persons works also in the creative industry. Indeed, as long as you pursuit your dreams and happiness for sure you will succeed. Just do not fall behind the first defeats.

4. What makes Venice a good base for creatives?

Venice is a magical place for several reasons but one among the others is its capacity to bring you back to this unique contact with nature. Waking up early in the morning to watch the sunrise on the lagoon is one of the most magical and inspiring thing in the world.

5. Within ISGNE, there is a focus on craftsmanship, heritage and innovation. What does the ‘future of craft’ mean to you and how do you see this evolving?

Craftmanship for me means the capacity to creating something unique and timeless. I believe the future of crafts would be based on persons and on their capacity to create a community that can share and evolve its knowledge through time. Only through collaboration and comparison there will be the possibility of moving forward. In particular, the possibility of mixing culture is essential because each person has its own background and through this interaction each person can benefit from each other.

6. What do you think is needed for the Design sector to adjust during the current climate situation, is this ‘change’ possible for all?

A lot of people working in this field believe that we are the saviour of the world. But in reality we are just lucky person that create things that try to make people happy. Our goal is to make people dream again because we do not create just objects but stories that are there to last for a long time. Humility and responsibility are the only adjectives that we need to keep always in mind.

Alberto Lago Sketches

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Blowing in Salviati (Murano, Italy)

7. The ‘desire’ for the aesthetic and visual function of design may take a backseat in the current climate. Will work with a focus on aesthetics find a place again? How will this affect the type of work seen within the design and creative sector?

I believe that in this particular time designers have an important role. Since our lives are most of the time segregated in our homes, we are constantly surrounded by our relatives and our objects. Being comfortable at home is an important aspect because this can be created only through memories that most of the time objects can hold in time. Imprinting in an object a story or a memory is for me the major goal as a designer because creating a shape that is beautiful it can be easy but to make something timeless is much harder. Timeless means

that can last forever like our memories.

8. What is your view on how one can educate the consumer market of the inherent value of designed products? Is greater awareness behind pricing of ‘collectible’ works being sought by the general public?

This question is really important because I believe that one of the most important task of a designer is not just to try to make something beautiful but to make something that can become a statement of a period in time and furthermore of the craftsmanship skills. Moreover, designer should try to make their products to be sustainable.

All these features will make consumer aware of the value of what they are going to buy. Revealing a story behind a project is a really important value because people are not just buying an object but a story that will reveal every time you are holding a design piece. Therefore, to make consumers feeling this is fundamental aspect that need to be communicate through a immersive user experience. To achieve this today we use different supporting materials, like: creative packaging, videos, and most importantly special customisation to make each piece unique.

This is even more relevant with collectible works because the feature of being unique and/or limited is yes a precious thing but in most of the cases it is just related with people that has financial possibilities. Instead, I believe that to become sustainable it has also to be democratic, in such a way not just few people can afford it but a bigger audience can look for it.

9. With an increase in the ‘collectible’ contemporary designed products, is a designer's R&D time seen of value by the consumer market at the end pricing of work? If not, what do you feel would improve this awareness?

In my personal point of view is not just about R&D that can make the market value but I believe that a piece of work should be able to communicate automatically its intrinsic value. Indeed, it is not easy to recognize the R&D effort behind a piece of work just looking at it. Therefore, the unmistakable added value is the designer story telling about the soul of the project that makes it unique.

10. Do you feel ‘expertise’ within the design sector is gained through specialisation in a style / medium? How can one stay proactive when established in their field?

Expertise can be gained only through trial and errors and comparison between peers regardless the style/medium utilised. The most difficult thing as a designer is trying not to replicate your ideas over and over again, because in this case you end up replicating your own concept. This is for sure the natural path for most of us and therefore, not become predictable is the biggest challenge in our field. Therefore, one of the most important thing is not to be static but dynamic in order to get always new stimuli.

Tabarro Vase design by Alberto Lago for Salviati (Murano, Italy)

11. Who or what are you most inspired by?

My inspiration comes naturally from what surround me. Furthermore, my design comes from a need or a necessity to find solutions that makes people life easier and more beautiful.

12. Do you have any creative platforms or designers to mind that you would recommend that are paving new ways in design? Have you seen any good examples of how creatives can stay motivated?

I believe that design has flatten his creative since 1970s. Nowadays, it is hard to innovate and to become a front edge in the design field. Becoming recognizable could be easy but being iconic is really hard especially nowadays. I know, I did not give you a name of a current designer that I really like but this is because we are all coming from the same roots and paths. Therefore, it is almost impossible to give you a name. This is particular true after internet became part of our life, because for sure it increased our possibilities but at the same time it narrowed down the creative path diversity. It looks like there is no way somebody can emerge from the crowd but this is not true since

passion, heart and soul are distinctive elements in each of us.

13.  What does the future hold for your practice? Any insights you can share with us?

The future of my practice is to focus on nothing in particular! That means not to stick with one idea or subject or material, but to explore everytime new fields and way of working. My daily routine involve few hours at the computer, few hours with the craftsman and few hours

exploring the world out there. I know it become always a routine but finding and looking at a different side everyday can become the little unexpected thing that you need every day to see and create something different.

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Ferai Table Lamps design by Alberto Lago for Salviati (Murano, Italy)

Interaction with Ferai Floor Lamp

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Salviati Showroom (Murano, Italy)

ALberto lago

Alberto Lago is a designer from Venice (Italy), with interests that go from design to graphic. His educational background range from architecture, engineering, carpentry, design and graphics.

His intellectual curiosity and the constant need of new stimuli have always led him to travel and engage in new challenges. He has lived and worked in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Stuttgart, Milan, Matera and Venice (where he is based now). 

Alberto creative process is based on traditional craftsmanship in relation with natural materials (ceramic, fabric, glass, marble, metal, and wood). The starting point is having a direct interaction with skilled artisans to understand their techniques, passions and dreams. These knowledges are then used in symbiosis with digital technology to inform the design process in a unique manner. The result is a learning experience, both for the artisan and the designer, that leads to a new paradigm in the traditional craftsmanship culture. 

Today Alberto is the Art Director of Salviati, one of the most important and oldest furnace in Murano (the Island of Glass),  where he is exploring and pushing the traditional boundaries of glass, working in direct contact with some of the most knowledgeable Muranese glass masters. 

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