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Zincster of the month: Cesare Tamagno
- Feb 2019 -

We hear from Cesare, Product Designer at Zinc, about his thoughts on all things related to design, inspiration, and working at Zinc

What do you do at Zinc?

At Zinc, I am an industrial designer. Basically, I make products. But there is a long process before you reach a final product. The initial part of this process is for us to do a lot of research in order to come up with a thorough understanding of the problems and challenges around what we are designing. After analysing the insights taken from the research and experience, we start sketching and prototyping and then continually refining until we are satisfied with the final outcome. 

At the end of this process, we have a product...although it's not just a product, it is the manifestation of a lot of insights, knowledge and creative ideas. We industrial designers don’t work alone, we are always collaborating with other workers to understand what we are building from many perspectives.

In the end, a product is the sum of many things - it is not just the shape or outside shell of the object but all its components: the electronics, the mechanical parts, and the user experience...how the end user interacts with that product - it’s a little universe of its own.

What do you think is the most important part of the design process?

For me, an important part that I discovered here at Zinc is more the hacking/prototyping phase. It’s exploring that idea you have and trying to make it real. So to try and make it real, we take objects or concepts close to that idea, hacking and combining things together to create a sort of Frankenstein that can show your idea. It’s an excellent way to gauge whether that idea can work.

What do you like about working at Zinc?

What I really liked is that just after a few weeks of starting here, I already created my own space, and I don't mean physical space. At Zinc, You can really show your spirit and express yourself and build your working environment. I would say most of the time you can really do what you want – in a good way!

Usually, when you arrive at a new place or job - they always tell you to “feel at home” but when they tell you this, you never feel at home, at least for me. At Zinc, nobody tells you to feel at home. But I felt I belonged here from the very beginning. 

Nobody went up to me and told me this is the “Zincster* approach” or that these are the rules on how to do something – none of that! Im not saying it's complete anarchy, obviously there are guidelines and we always open ourselves to communicate and criticise constructively. 

Rather, our approach is to give you your own little space and the freedom to do your own thing – to explore, improve, experiment, fail, to keep learning, to find your own rhythm and show what you can do.

If you're passionate, motivated and you put in the work, you definitely have a space here. Maybe it's not the case in other work places. Maybe for the rest, it’s just a normal job.

As a designer, how do you find inspiration?

Good question. I think as a designer, you walk through life while looking at everything all the time.  For example, when I go through a city, I see a lot of details that others wouldn’t usually see because as a designer you have to focus on the details. For me, this is inspiration.

If you see the details of everything, you can understand the complexity of even the simplest of things. I always say: “If you want to have inspiration you have to be open for inspiration. It’s like love, if you're open to love then you can find love. If you aren’t open to love then you don’t find it. Inspiration is like this. If you are open to it, then you can take it. If not, then you don’t find it.” 

You can't just stay in the bed and think inspiration will come up – I tried this all my life but this doesn’t work unless your mind is open to it. Inspiration is in noticing everything happening around you. We can’t always get it instantly that’s why we have tools like boards or Pinterest to help us get inspired but it’s in those quiet moments of calm and just thinking about what you are designing, you find inspiration can step in. 

Anything you would share with aspiring designers?

The only thing I share with all the interns that pass through Zinc or especially people who just started this career - is to understand that sometimes we don’t work in reality. For 80% of the design process, we are working in our dreams.

What I mean is we don’t really have an actual product in front of us. We can sketch, use Photoshop and use other design programs as tools to help visualize these ideas but in the end it's still all in the mind.

Having understood this, I think the most complicated part of being a designer, is that we have to believe in our project - whatever it is - from the beginning to the end; you can’t stop it halfway through or although you can adapt it for course. If you start to doubt the project then you tend to end the project.Maybe you start doubting because others don’t see what you see but you have to believe and not lose hope.

But it's also really important to listen to others because it is a collaborative process. When working with others in a team, you usually start with different points, all having different ideas of what the product will end up being, but then as you move through the process, those ideas and views merge into one final product. 

So it’s a journey to create a product...and it's a balance of believing in your ideas and listening to / working with others....and getting that balance can often be challenging!

What's up, Zinc?