Red Dot Award: Design Concept

Interview with Paolo Trevisan

Red Dot in interview with Paolo Trevisan of Pininfarina

Paolo Trevisan is head of the design and architecture department in the office of the subsidiary on the North and South American market of Pininfarina in Miami. He oversees the entire design process, from brief to creative interpretation through to the delivery of projects and reports directly to the company’s Chairman, Paolo Pininfarina.

In 2019 Pininfarina was awarded a Red Dot in the Red Dot Award: Design Concept for the design of bus shelters for the city of Miami Beach. The bus shelters reflect Pininfarina's ethos that living and commuting are in constant evolution. They feature innovative modular designs and contemporary technology that underline Pininfarina's goal of creating a modern, airy, accessible and comfortable user experience where beauty never falls victim to functionality. In this interview with Red Dot, Paolo Trevisan tells us more about his understanding of design.

Red Dot: Why did you become a designer?

Paolo Trevisan: I became a designer, because I am passionate about people. I like to interact with people and objects. Through design, I can explore and discover what makes us tick as humans and why something is beautiful, or not. 

Over the years, I’ve had many hobbies – creating graphic design logos, managing events and even DJ-ing – and I realised one thing is always true: humans like to express themselves in every situation. I like celebrating creativity because creativity transcends geography, race and culture – it allows humans to connect. I believe that every designer should be passionate about bettering the human race. They must have a desire to change the built environment, and therefore the world, for the better. Curiosity is key – I didn’t realize that so many aspects of life really come down to this.

What comes to you first: business or customer?

The customer always comes first. At Pininfarina, we believe that our customers represent a key partnership for the brand – it’s a deep relationship. We share our dreams with both our customers, as well as our clients. Pininfarina understands that the end-user’s needs are dynamic, and that their buildings and spaces need to evolve with them. Pininfarina’s design process, whether that be within the industrial, built environment, transportation or automotive verticals, places the customer at the center of all decision-making. Our client relationships have resulted in products and spaces that reflect context, history, culture, community and the natural environment. When we work with a client, it is an adventure we take together, undertaking research to find creative solutions. Of course, business is always on our minds, but the business aspect is a consequence of that relationship.

Have you personally benefited from preparing for a major project?

I have benefited the most from the learning process that goes into every project. Each and every project requires non-stop learning. We always challenge ourselves to do better: to learn from the past to better the future. Awards are a welcome fruit of our hard work – it’s always rewarding to be recognized for passion and teamwork.

What is your biggest design career moment?

My biggest design career moment was my first day at Pininfarina, at the international headquarters in Turin, Italy. That was the day I became a part of the Pininfarina family.

Design school never ends, at least for great designers. How do you learn and grow your knowledge and expertise?

I learn through a completely engaged, hands-on approach: with two eyes, two ears, two hands, one mouth. The design team at Pininfarina is inconstant pursuit of finding better solutions to the built environment’s increasingly complex problems by incorporating research to guide decision-making, weaving calculated and intentional concepts throughout all aspects of design. We have a commitment to advancing design through innovation of materials, tools, and processes to create a new generation of projects and products, all while maintaining our renowned aesthetic that hails from our automotive heritage.

If you could describe your corporate culture in three words, what would you say?

Elegance, Performance, Innovation. We could actually use just one word: passion.

How do you decide who gets to do what?

Every single person has a mixture of different skills and strengths. A successful design concept is about balance—making sure that it’s always a collaborative effort.

When do you decide to stop a product or remove a particular feature?

We try to take out everything that is not needed – we call this “pure design”. Functionality is the key priority.

Is consensus always a good thing?

Not always! At Pininfarina, we encourage thinking outside of the box with every new challenge.

How do you say no to people?

By simply saying no.