“What makes me design is a desire to help out,” states Mirko Carsana; “design has to be beautiful, but it’s first and foremost made for a person, and I think it has to be a solution to a problem that nobody has addressed yet.” The practical minimalism of this young designer is certainly an element that contributed to the jury’s choosing his project first amongst the contestants of the first edition of DesignWinMake contest. “Lampa” is by this 22 year old Swiss student, born in the small town of Mendrisio and in his last year at the SSS_AA (Scuola specializzata superiore di arte applicata) in Lugano.

Mirko has always been attracted by product design, and he is lucky that, near his hometown, there is a place called CSIA that combines a design-oriented high-school and a college (SSS_AA) in the same beautiful location. Despite his experience being limited, at this time, to an academic environment, he has already had the opportunity to see how he measures up against other designers – and come out winning! He took home the first place prize in our challenge to develop a product for laser-cut that is viable for e-commerce sales.

Mirko, second from left, holds his prize certificate at the opening of Florence Design Week

In 2012, together with his teacher Filipo Mambretti, Mirko already won a prize for a laser-cut lamp in the independent design contest “Autoprogettazione 2.0” run by Domus magazine, and their lamp called Guenda was displayed at an exhibit during the Salone del Mobile in Milan.

His teacher, Filippo, is amongst those who Mirko cites as having inspired him a lot, though asked which past designers he liked best, he says that “more than designers, I am inspired by specific designs – the Cubo ashtray by Bruno Munari, or the works in plexiglass by Joe Colombo like his famous Acrylic Lamp… because they test new materials.”

(L) Munari's Cubo / (R) Colombo's lamp

For Mirko, which is more important – material or technique? He explains that “vocation is something that comes to you becaues you’re a designer and you get an idea, or it might come to you because of a certain material or technique that you encounter. All this is normal to me. Product design has to come spontaneously.” That’s why, when he saw a contest dedicated to a technique – laser cutting- Mirko closed his eyes and thought about what he associated with this: “two-dimentional came to mind, so i ended up making silhouettes, and playing with shadows. Lampa actually comes from an earlier class project on the use of sheet metal cut using CNC machinery, and for the contest I modified this shape to make it out of wood, a material I find fascinating because it is much warmer. I don’t think about material so much for its phsyical properties like an engineer might, but for its aesthetic, emotional ability.”

The jury of DesignWinMake also appreciated the playfulness of Lampa, whose silhouette is that of a typical work lamp. Playing on the name and concept of “table lampa”, Mirko says he’d like to also create a floor-lampa and a wall-lampa.

Aesthetically, Lampa has pure, minimalist lines, an element which connects its style to that of MakeTank and the contemporary home. About his aesthetic, Mirko affirms: “I very much like minimalism, the concept of purifying the visual to get down to the essence and functionality of the product, in which lies its natural beauty.”

Lampa on display at IED Firenze with other DWM winners

We asked Mirko if he felt like a Maker and he surprisingly told us that he doesn’t yet feel like one. “I’d like to say yes. Maker is a nice word, and I have yet to fully understand what it means, but it gives me a good feeling! For the moment I am still limited to school, which I have yet to finish, but I like the idea that a person can design, develop, sell and become a small company all in one.”

Right now, Mirko has to finish his diploma, but what will he do after that? “I’d like to live with the products that I make, ideally with my own studio. I wish for people to be happy having my products in their homes, that they use them, not as dust-catchers but really for living. If I could live from this work [as a designer] I would be very satisfied.”

We, too, hope to be able to soon see this young designer in action with his own studio and production of a line of products that we can live with in beauty. Amongst the objectives of our contest was to discover the next big designers, and with Mirko we think we might have done just that.


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