Diego Paccagnella was born in Padua and moved to London in 1997 to study graphic design at Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design. While at CSM Diego was invited to work as a graphic designer on John Rushworth Pentagram team, which fostered his passion for design and interest in its influence on daily life.
After earning his degree and finishing at Pentagram Diego developed and executed the “Perfect Bar Project” – an experiment in social dynamics, branding and communication. He drove a 50cc Piaggio Ape van and mobile coffee bar and served Illy coffee from Venice to London, studying how coffee-centered social gatherings could be productive and novel and create new sales opportunities for Illy. In 2002, Diego was inspired by the 8th Architectural Biennale in Venice and it’s theme “Next” to create a new type of open house, bringing a cross-cultural group of architects, designers and artists together in a combination urban coffee house / private salon. Diego’s “Morocco Pavilion” confronted conventional ideas about public and private spaces in an observable and practical forum and demonstrated the potential for fluidity between the two. It would lead later to the collaborative “Appartamento Lago” project.
Diego began collaborating with Lago S.p.A. in 2004, initially redesigning a visual identity for the company that would reflect its core values. The visual language he helped develop elevated the brand’s status in the international market. Diego’s “Packaging Collection” invited artists to co-create packaging for different Lago products, making them beautiful as well as functional. His “Art Waiting Room” transformed the office waiting room into a rotating gallery. Workshop collaborations with students at the Royal College of Art, Design Academy Eindhoven, HFG Karlsruhe and his alma mater CSM produced original, innovative pieces, some of which remain in Lago’s catalog. Brit Leissler’s“Huggy” armchair received a Good Design Award in 2009 and Nusa Jelenec’s “Col-Letto” bed earned an Elle Décor International Award in 2010. Building from the ideas of the Morocco Pavilion, in April 2009 Diego Launched “Appartamento Lago” during Milan’s internationally famous Fuorisalone Design Week. An apartment was furnished with Lago products and lived in during the exhibition week, serving as a functional interactive showroom. The project was an unexpected success. Thousands visited the first living showroom and many more experienced the customized, lived-in spaces that appeared all around Italy in the following years. Corraini published Diego and Brit Leissler’s account of the approach and the goals of the Appartamento project. In November of 2011, Diego and Lago were awarded the ADI Index prize.
In 2012, Diego launched Design-Apart to continue experimenting with living design, connect with artisans and bring bespoke Italian design to international consumers.
Stefano Micelli published his authoritative analysis of Italian artisanal craft Futuro Artigiano in 2011. His research shows how artisan traditions have evolved to include sophisticated contemporary tools and technologies. Having traveled extensively and spent time with many artisanal producers Stefano became convinced that Italian craftsmanship was the key to the country’s future manufacturing prosperity and that: quality, passion and attention to detail could defeat the convenience of mass-produced industrial design. In 2012 the book received the ADI Design Index prize.
Stefano has worked to elevate status and expand opportunities for Italy’s artisanal producers for decades. His expertise perfectly complements Diego’s creativity and drive as the two push to spreadDesign-Apart’s mission and vision. Stefano was born in Udine in 1966 and received degrees in economics from the University of Venice, Ca’ Foscari and political science from L’Institut d’Etudes Politiques de Paris. He began teaching communications at the University of Padua and is currently professor of E-Business and International Management in the Department of Management at the University of Venice, Ca’ Foscari. Since 1999, he’s served as the Director of TeDIS – a research center of Venice International University focusing on innovation in small to medium sized industrial companies. From 2005 to 2012 he oversaw advanced training and research as Dean of Venice International University.
Alice Rizzetto started her career at Design-Apart as a marketing and communication intern in 2013 . Originally from Vicenza, she studied in Padua where she obtained a bachelor’s degree in Sociology and a master’s degree in Communication Strategies. During her studies she developed together with other students a communication campaign to fight the violence against women, sponsored by the University and the Municipality of Padua. She also took part in the contest organized in 2013 by AIDO and Fondazione Pubblicità Progresso and created an unconventional guerrilla marketing campaign for raising awareness on the topic of organ donation.
After her master’s graduation in July 2014 with a research thesis titled “Innovation in distribution channels for furnishings Made in Italy”, Alice worked for Design-Apart for 6 months in New York City. There, Alice improved her skills in marketing and communication, and she also discovered her great attitude in managing the sales of interior design projects and the relationship with customers. Back from the United States, Alice manages the social media plan and the communication projects for Design-Apart and she supports Design-Apart sales activities, from the design to the final delivery in New York City.
Filippo Berto is from Milan. He earned a degree in economics from the Catholic University there in the mid 90s and has a strong background in information technology, SEO, web commerce, PR and blogging. Fioravante and Carlo Berto, Filippo’s father and uncle started Berto, the company, in 1974. Filippo entered the business in 1997 and immediately began pushing for Berto to develop a distinctive web presence. At a time when few companies were online in Italy, Berto became an internet pioneer, exploring the medium and interacting with consumers in novel ways. In 2004 Filippo started bertostory, the first Italian blog about furniture. The site has been hugely successful in welcoming customers into the world of interior art and design and connecting audiences to a broader discussion about Italian artisan craft. Berto’s business is built around ‘the artisan’. Filippo established and reinforces this identity and is frequently invited to speak about his experience bringing artisan craft into the twenty-first century and the future of sustainable manufacturing at universities and research centers. Filippo and Berto have helped elevate the profile of Italian artisans and export the ‘made in Italy’ label and spirit around the world.
Gianluca Tondi was born in Ascoli in 1970. He cut his teeth in his family’s carpenter’s workshop, learning the trade secrets. Following his strong predisposition towards design and architecture, at the end of his studies he decided to start his own company with his cousin Ares Tondi, and in 1998 he gave life to TM Italia Manifattura Sartoriale Cucine.
An ambitious challenge that Gianluca loves to describe in few words: “From a carpenter father and a tailor mother, my destiny was already written”. Gianluca had in fact already understood, just like a tailor sewing a suit, that there was a need for a kitchen system, made to measure and to suit different lifestyles, therefore placing the user at the center of focus.
He was awarded the Young Entrepreneur of the Year prize from the Marche Region in 2006, for having founded an entrepreneurial project, based on his family’s artisan experience, in a complex and extremely committing sector, by combining his own entrepreneurial ability to the teachings learned over the years from a family of long tradition in hand-crafted wood products.
Experience and an inclination towards design have led him over the years to create a large part of the collections inside the company and still today, while availing himself of the cooperation of important architects, works as the company’s art director.
Ignazio earned a degree in mechanical engineering in Milan in the early 70s and began his career in the chemical industry. His experience working with abrasives and inventing new technologies and production processes was formative. Ignazio learned how to navigate the challenges of remaining innovative while running an efficient business. For decades now, Ignazio has been a leading developer of rapid prototyping and commercial 3D printing technologies. Ignazio started HSL, which created silicone production molds for commercial manufacturers. It was the first Italian company and one of the first in Europe to make use of prototyping technologies and set a new standard for integrated product development. In 2010, Ignazio launched .exnovo, which unites sophisticated manufacturing tech with high-end design in surprising and exciting ways. .exnovo produces a wide range of architectural lighting fixtures, furniture and interior accent pieces – all using 3D printing technology.
Fabio studied information technology in Loreto, Italy while still in high school and developed an affinity for 3D prototyping and printing, pursuing his interest with further training and study. He helped establish a rapid prototyping service center in Marche in 1998, which included Italy’s first selective laser melting system. Fabio soon rose to the position of Technical Manager which he held until 2006. During his tenure he moved for a time in Austin, Texas for post-graduate training at 3D Systems, specializing in selective laser melting. Fabio worked on a project for Alenia Aeronautics constructing custom steel components using lasers and has been collaborating with Ignazio Pomini and HSL since 2007. Together they built relationships with some of Italy’s most exciting manufacturers, including: Poltrona Frau Group, Ask Group, Wider Yacht and the Adler Group and in 2010 cofounded .exnovo, combining innovative technologies and artisanal traditions to create innovative furniture, lighting and design objects.