MATTEO GUALANDRIS — Interview
Matteo Gualandris, Milan-based graphic designer.
Hello Matteo Gualandris, how are you?
Hello, I am fine thank you.
Can you introduce yourself?
I am a Milan based graphic designer. In 2011 I graduated from Polytechnic of Milan, then I worked for three years at Studio FM Milano. That was a really fun and unforgettable experience. It opened up to me a lot of connections with great and inspiring people and gave the opportunity to improve my skills and knowledge, especially in regard to clients and printers handling. In July 2014 I left FM to join the Mousse Publishing graphic design team. Since I also work independently, I often find myself doing freelance work on nights and weekends.
Where does your interest in graphic design and typography come from?
My interest in graphic design probably first aired during my last years of high school even though when I started attending university I was very much focused on illustration. That was a very fun and cheerful period, I collaborated with magazines like Vice, participated in exhibitions and my zines were well distributed. At the time I thought this could have been my path, if I had been pursuing it all the way. Then my studies at Polytechnic of Milan proved to be crucial in my decision to set aside illustration for the time being in order to enhance my knowledge of graphic design to the point of making it a profession. Later I became deeply fascinated with typography and I have cultivated this interested constantly ever since. During my MA at Polytechnic I started working as a graphic designer next to my studies, I guess that’s what really made me realize this could be the right thing for me.
What I like about my work as a graphic designer is to lend order, appearance and consistency to contents. This carries a lot of responsibility. I like to build systems and solve tasks using as few simple elements as possible and to organize text and images in the clearest yet most interesting way. I put a lot of attention in the definition of grid and typography. It is very interesting to see how a whole layout develops thanks to the rules that have been set up in the preliminary steps. Coherence and clarity are important aspects of my work.
Typography is the core of your projects. Do you think of designing your own typefaces?
Needless to say, the process of typeface design requires an incredible amount of study, research, practice and time. Being self-taught in this field, I still have much to learn through books, observation and hard work. Additionally, since I am primarily involved in graphic design, the development of a proper typeface family head to tail is a slow demanding process for me. For these reasons, at the moment I am trying to concentrate my efforts mostly on the design of single display faces, in order to use them in personal projects. In my work typography usually plays a leading role. I like spending a lot of time choosing, pairing, mixing and modifying existing fonts in order to create something intriguing and elusive, this really amuses me. Of course there are a lot of type designers which I admire and respect. It is so useful to involve them in a project whenever it’s possible and to get feedbacks from them.
Are there any projects or experiences that you have done and that you enjoyed more than others?
I liked very much working on the catalogue Introspectiva – Filipe Alarcão, designer which was published by MUDE Museum Lisbon in conjunction with the homonymous exhibition, and on the monograph Carlo Valsecchi, Technogym published by Milanese architecture firm Antonio Citterio Patricia Viel and Partners. Apart from the design process itself, I enjoyed these two projects because I had the chance to collaborate with two different personalities who introduced me to their respective works in a fascinating way. Another good project was the art direction and new brand identity for Connecticut, an Italian interior doors manufacturer established in the 1950s. They turned out to be friendly, respectful people and the perfect client in terms of behavior and understanding, so everything was developed well and easily indeed.
My work as freelance is generally very pleasant. I try to only work on projects that interest me. They are usually small commissions, sometimes bigger if time permits. These are the moments I have to experiment freely and collaborate with friends and new people.
I also had a great time working on my Master’s Degree. As a final project I designed Planck, a monthly journal of astronomy and astrophysics named after German physicist Max Planck. I have always been interested in everything related to space, probably that’s my greatest passion besides graphic design. My co-advisor was the editor-in-chief of National Geographic Italy. At the time the publisher was considering the possibility to set alongside the main magazine an insert focused on space science, so we worked in that direction. I had access to outstanding visual materials and I was supervised while developing the overall structure of this new monthly publication. It took a very long time to complete the whole project, which included also a design report, but at the end everyone was extremely satisfied of how it all turned out. I never lost the hope to see Planck in newsstands one day.
Can you tell us a bit about the design scene in Milan?
Milan has a strong tradition in graphic design. The city has always been considered the synthesis between Central-European rigour and Italian culture. Between the 1950s and 1970s entrepreneurs like Pirelli and Olivetti became very receptive to innovation in visual communication, inspiring what will be subsequently defined as “industrial style”. At this time the revolutionary work of Milan based Studio Boggeri marked the birth of modern Italian graphic design. Boggeri’s team included incredible designers like Bruno Munari, Franco Grignani, Giancarlo Illiprandi, Enzo Mari, Bob Noorda, Albe Steiner and the Swiss Max Huber, Carlo Vivarelli, Walter Ballmer, Salvatore Gregorietti, Aldo Calabresi, who moved from Zürich to Milan to join this unrepeatable union among designers and companies. Today across the city there are some great studios, designers and collaborative experiences that make its graphic design scene one of Italy’s most lively. I am surrounded by talented people with whom I like to discuss and collaborate. I grew up in a small town in Western Lombardy, moving to Milan was to me a way to pursue my goal of becoming a graphic designer and confront myself with such inspiring environment.
Is there any designer or artist you appreciate a lot?
Too many to mention. I discover new young talented designers almost everyday and I am often very surprised not to have seen them before. I’d like to cite Joost Grootens for his amazing book design work. Going back to classics instead, definitely Emil Ruder and Franco Grignani.
Which books are on your bedside table?
Currently Alexandre Dumas’ The Wolf Leader.
The last word…
Interview : Dennis Moya & Tiffany Baehler – 08.14
Projects ©Matteo Gualandris.