During these days I’m collecting pieces from my work and taking some time to reorganize ideas. I started nostalgically reflecting on what I do miss more. With my colleagues, I have been curating and organizing for 4 years now the exhibit "Illuminazioni", the designers’ collective that renews its participants every year within official locations. The format nourishes itself with different points of view on the products through the eyes of young and emerging designers. The best part of this work is the chance of deepening my knowledge on product design, while meeting always different people. The designers confront each other in an exchanging environment creating a community year after year.

I thought, why do not continue funding this dialogue talking about them?

Designers in the neighborhood is the periodical column that gathers outstanding designers I have met in and out of exhibitions all along these years, which are worth being known for the way they think, create, and for collecting significant and hidden points of view on the multifaceted Design matter. 

Today I want to introduce to you the first neighbor, Alberto Ghirardello.

After the lockdown, the collective launched Design Antidoto, a Call for Designers which aimed at gathering projects born from the quarantine we experienced globally, in order to show how Design can deal with covid and post-covid time. This was the frame where I happened to run into Ghirardello's work. He hosted PrimoMaggio, an ingenious and essential lighting design product.

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© ph. Andrea Favarin – Design City Padova

Alberto Ghirardello is a product designer from Vicenza who currently lives and works in Milano, the city where he gained several years of experience in different professional design studios and where he founded his own, in 2013.

His works are featured in many design magazines and have been exhibited in various events like Salone del Mobile, Euroluce, Fuorisalone, Maison & Objet, Stockholm Furniture & Light Fair, Hong Kong Design Week and many more, so as in museums like MAXXI and Triennale Design Museum.

He is considered one of the most promising designers on the Italian and international design scene, and he counts an impressive list of winning awards and honorable mentions.

The latest, just a few days ago: the Archiproducts Design Awards 2020 for the Lighting category has been assigned to MINÙ (9010), the decorative bollard inspired to the mushrooms and plants world, for better complement external environments.

By their nature, objects are passive instances but some have a empathic charge that makes them look different: in what I do I like to instill a poetic or exciting element, something that generates surprise, irony or mere sympathy that makes the product vibrating, even for just a moment.


MINÙ, 9010 (Outdoor LED bollard in BETALY®), 2020

His research does not expire with the creation of a functional piece. “The form-function binomial is now given for granted, we must begin to consider a third value and think in terms of form-function-emotion” states Ghirardello talking about the design process, which elevates his products to eloquent inhabitants of our spaces.

The poetic behind his works is a litmus paper for a recognizable style, which is strengthened by the eclecticism of the production techniques among which his products range.

Actually, in his work coexists two different souls sewed together by a third foundational element.

Let’s figure a triangle: the first corner at its base is his traditional craftmanship knowledge side, and on the opposite lives his modern production technologies such as 3D printing applied to industrial design and digital printing.

The two souls find a meeting point on the high peak: the constant research for a poised playful experience.


Fragaria, Hand on Design, 2018
The product has been selected and exhibited at the Shizuoka City Cultural and Creative Industries Promotion Center, in 2019.
Fragaria is a five bottles champagne cooler, handcrafted by the master Shuji Nakagawa with the ancient Oke technique in his laboratory (Shiga).
Fragaria is the scientific name for the strawberry plant, fruit that often matches a glass of champagne and whose flower has a five-petal shape that is recalled by the appearance of the container.

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Septem is the tech-fashion Japanese brand which counts a consistent jewelry collection designed by Alberto Girardello.
Like seaweed swaying lazily and sinuously undersea waves. The shapes enhance the technology used for producing the earrings: the jewel’s geometry is in fact irreplicable with technologies different from SLS / SLA 3D printing.


MOLECULAR, Cyrcus, 2019
3D printed bracelet


Jetlag, Cyrcus, 2019
Why have two distinct clocks to mark two different time zones? Ghirardello conceived the laser-cut metal wall clock while his girlfriend of that time lived in Japan. “I made a clock with a double time zone to always keep an eye on her time and coordinate us in the Skype calls” he said. The shape is an ideal fusion of two dials. It can be hanged on the wall horizontally or vertically, and the white paint allows to write the names of any place.

When I contacted him to know if he wanted to be involved in this column a few days ago, he was happy. I was thrilled by his reaction.

After exchanging some anecdotes about that trip to Japan when I visited Mount Fuji on the foggiest day of the year, he told me about that product he made in a traditional laboratory in Shiga and we started to talk about his projects.

I asked him some questions about how he approaches his work.

Virginia: “I have met you during Design Antidoto, with a project that reveals how stimulating it’s for you to play with reality. You have fun in designing, don’t you?"

A.G.: “Of course yes: I find that having fun while doing your job is a fundamental component of living well and being at peace with yourself, as well as a fundamental ingredient to be able to make things good. I am a person constantly looking for new stimuli or inputs, and I enjoy facing different design challenges: the designer profile is the perfect job for me because it allows me to interface every day with different types of work, to always face new challenges and above all to gain experience in very distant design fields. PrimoMaggio, the 3D printed DIY lamp that I brought to Design Antidoto, is evidently the result of a "light" design, veiled by a pinch of irony that charges the final product with an emotional component, without depriving it of credibility or design seriousness.”


PrimoMaggio, 2020
PrimoMaggio was born from the failed barbecue on May 1st, a very heartfelt celebration dedicated to workers in Italy. The project starts from finding a solution for the alternative use of the maxi meat sticks left unused after the cancellation of the party due to the restrictive measures during the lockdown. Primomaggio is a project that elaborates the traumatic interruption of the normality that we have experienced in the past months, with delicate poetry, and transforms an anonymous object of use into the symbol of the months spent in quarantine.


PrimoMaggio, during Design Antidoto exhibit, hosted @Fabbrica del Vapore (Milano Design City 2020) in collaboration with Design Opens’ Spaces PIXEL CITY. The QR code, if framed with the camera, allows you to buy the project available in open source for 3D printing.

Virginia: ”The poetics behind your products make your style very well defined and recognizable. What experiences have influenced the way you approach the creation of a product? What inspires you on a daily basis?"

A.G.: “As I said, I am a person who always looks for stimuli and new interests. This means that I am constantly open to receiving inspiration of all kinds, from any direction and at any time.

The best ideas or the most productive inspiration or even the concentration on a certain project are all obtained by thinking or doing something else for me: a walk in the mountains, a beer with friends, a good science fiction film, a surreal manga, an exhibition by an unknown artist, wandering through flea markets, and so on. For me it is very important to constantly contaminate work with private life: I think it’s the only way you can feed that synergistic mix that can fertilize your mind when you least expect it.”


Prêt-à-porter, RIVA 1920, 2016

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Il Tagliere del Designer, ESSENT’IAL, 2017
Cutting board.

Virginia: "Do you use a methodology or a matrix within you usually move when a customer assign you a brief?"

A.G.: “Generally, each project is a world of its own. I approach each time in a different way depending on the customer and the type of product. Sometimes I adopt a more methodical and calculated approach, which includes doing massive preliminary research and then coming up with a few targeted concepts which suites company requests. Occasionally, I let myself ride the enthusiasm producing an exaggerated amount of ideas which I then skim over as the days pass. In both situations, I constantly have in my mind a tailor-made solution for the company that interacts with me, which is an expression of its values ​​and meaning: in fact, I rarely "recycle" a project for another customer, precisely because it tends to they are very closely related to the briefing requirements.”


Linea, DA A, 2018
Linea is a laser-cut metal bench defined by an elementary shape. The particular constructive logic consists in different parts joined together by hidden welds at almost imperceptible angles, which allow having both an ergonomic longitudinal curvature on the seat and a curvature on the two sides. This generates a shape otherwise obtainable only by mold, an impractical process for an object of this size.

Virginia: “Who could it be next-door designer in your neighborhood?”

A.G.: “If I had to choose I would love going out and taking coffees with the "historical" Dieter Rams, every now and then. If I stay in the present, I would gladly have a beer at the bar on the corner with Stefan Diez. Both are designers with a strong industrial footprint who can though instill a sensitive soul in the pieces they design. Both of them demonstrated a profound technical knowledge in the production processes with an ease that I really admire very much.”

His personal website hosts a selection of his works.

Go and discover him.


PrimoMaggio DIY lampshade Download
Alberto Ghirardello on Archiproducts