Interview with designer Claudio Sibille (CS), regarding views on design, and for the award-winning design Mantis Chair.

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Interview with Claudio Sibille at Tuesday 19th of April 2016: DI: What is the main principle, idea and inspiration behind your design?
CS : The idea is to continue paying homage to mid twentieth century scandinavian design. Of course one, always needs to add something particular to a already vast amount of this type of designs. Specially in the last 10 years or so when more and more people are going back to these roots. My differentiation here was trying to blend this with the idea of nature, of a praying mantis to be more specific. I wanted it to have some organic lines to it, but while keeping it simple construction wise. Living in Uruguay, not only technologies are less available (we have very few 5 Axis CNC machines), but prices are quite high, so I needed to design something that would set apart from CNC Multiple axis technologies and complex pieces that would take my prototype to steep prices, not to mention possible mass production possibilities.

DI: What has been your main focus in designing this work? Especially what did you want to achieve?
CS : I wanted to achieve a sense of nostalgia and sensitivity towards former times. I wanted to achieve something timeless, or forever contemporary. Something that one might identify to the 50´s or 60´s as well as to the XXI century as well

DI: What are your future plans for this award winning design?
CS : Hopefully making this into mass production by an interested company or being the spark that might lead to more commercial projects.

DI: How long did it take you to design this particular concept?
CS : Between the design itself and the making of the prototype, with some spaces in between, it took about three months.

DI: Why did you design this particular concept? Was this design commissioned or did you decide to pursuit an inspiration?
CS : Just pursuing an inspiration. Actually, this was one of the first designs samples that did not involve multifunctionality. In this first stage of my work, form always followed function, like for example, the Ludovico Office, the Twins transformable coffee table or the Air coffee table, all concepts that gave much importance so space issues, small space issues. I guess that from the Marken desk on, all my designs abandoned this original concept of space saving and focused on a more standard, conventional if you want, design phase. In this stage, I try to bring a balance between form and function.

DI: Is your design being produced or used by another company, or do you plan to sell or lease the production rights or do you intent to produce your work yourself?
CS : Right now the design only is a Prototype and my blueprints. Producing the work myself is out of the question. Thew idea is to Sell the project or lease it to another company by getting royalties.

DI: What made you design this particular type of work?
CS : My desire to free myself from such an objective and pragmatic state of mind that said that Form follows function. I wanted to prove that not only I could come up with new innovative ideas, but that I could also be considered as a designer that produces beauty and that could poor emotion in his work as well.

DI: Where there any other designs and/or designers that helped the influence the design of your work?
CS : Thousands! I have many original Decorative Art Yearbooks of the 50´s and the 60´s even that used to belong to my grandfather, and are now in my hand. Other than that I have collected over the years many many design books, most of them being architecture, interior design and industrial design of mid twentieth century. I can´t say I took inspiration from just one. In fact when I drew the first lines, I had no reference in mind, but unconsciously, this is the result of an idea of scandinavian design after years and years of collecting images in my mind.

DI: Who is the target customer for his design?
CS : Obviously people who search for simplicity, a certain nostalgia, and a sensitivity towards form.

DI: What sets this design apart from other similar or resembling concepts?
CS : This is probably the most difficult question asked to a designer when he doesn´t create something functionally innovative or aesthetically revealing, which is like in 95% of the cases.

DI: How did you come up with the name for this design? What does it mean?
CS : As I was sketching many forms in my notebook, this is the one that convinced me the most and accidentally resembled very much like the front legs of a Praying Mantis. Like most cases, the story of design names are disappointing. But the important thing is the product, not the name.

DI: Which design tools did you use when you were working on this project?
CS : First pencil and paper, followed by rhino to make the 3d model, and VRAY for the rendering. Finally, the prototype came up.

DI: What is the most unique aspect of your design?
CS : I would say that probably the first thing that draws attention is the floating appearance of the backrest. Many might wonder how this piece is fixed to such delicate and thin armrests (at the back side). Obviously a simple metallic hardware is necessary.

DI: Who did you collaborate with for this design? Did you work with people with technical / specialized skills?
CS : Being such a simple project (in terms of technical difficulties) I had no need for collaborators. Although it is incredible how much one can learn from carpenters when one embarks in more complicated projects. I´ve learnt more in the doing, watching, and following artisans, whether they are carpenters, blacksmiths, plastic manufacturers, etc, that everything I was taught in Industrial design University.

DI: What is the role of technology in this particular design?
CS : Technological considerations are present of course, like in any product, but in this case, instead of trying to innovate, I tried to make it simple, recurring to traditional crafting techniques instead of opting for more modern approach. This is due to my limitations in Uruguay, that even though we have all the necessary machines to make the most complex design (in wood or steel), they are low in quantity and the costs involved are incredibly high. So for me to be able to make a real prototype, I had to make it simple but challenging at the same time.

DI: Is your design influenced by data or analytical research in any way? What kind of research did you conduct for making this design?
CS : NoT in a conscious level, but like I said, I had thousand of images in my mind due to years of gathering, watching and reading design books. The Mantis is the unconscious interpretation I have of scandinavian design.

DI: What are some of the challenges you faced during the design/realization of your concept?
CS : Honestly I don´t believe I faced any particular challenges. If I had to mention one, probably would be getting the hardware piece done. That was probably the only part that I had to re evaluate before getting it right.

DI: How did you decide to submit your design to an international design competition?
CS : I had won a few more designs in this particular design competition, and I believe it is a good way to make yourself known to attract potential customers.

DI: What did you learn or how did you improve yourself during the designing of this work?
CS : That I keep evolving for the better and I realise that every design I make is more complex than the previous one. I'm always learning.