Paolo Coia: at the Cutting Edge of Innovative Design

Paolo Coia: at the Cutting Edge of Innovative Design

Italian designer Paolo Coia creates unique things that perfectly unite aesthetic and practical functions. His works, including modernized electronic version of traditional Ukrainian instrument – bandura, look like they have just arrived from the future with help of a time machine. In our interview Paolo has told about his sources of inspirations, upcoming projects and experience of visiting and working in Ukraine.

Paolo Coia lives and works in Bari, Italy. Starting from school years, he was attending art and painting courses, and also worked in sport motors design & production studio. Nowadays, Paolo expresses his talent and fantasy through creation of unique objects at the intersection of traditions and innovations, art and design. 
Your works include many interesting objects from massage handles to sorting bins. Where do you find inspiration for all these unusual things?
Many people believe that creativity is an innate gift. I do not think so. I consider myself a "transversal creative". Usually I start with observing technical features of objects then I explore them as pieces of art. My work is strongly conceptual. I try to keep sources of anxiety or stress away from me while committing to the goal. I stop myself and let my emotions breathe freely. I untie my brain and watch for hours what surrounds me. I look at clouds or at waves of the sea which are never the same. I go running or take long walks. In the evening, before falling asleep, I think intensely about everything I have studied and, in the morning, immediately after waking up I get white paper and pencil. In that moment ideas get shape from nothing! Observing, studying, defining and looking at the work with a critical eye allow me to transform things I see into emotion. The more I contemplate that emotion, the greater the quality of the result is. The more the mind is stimulated to think out of the box, the better outcomes will be.
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Nowadays, you have plenty of amazing works. What was the very first object you designed and what would you like to create in future?
I started by designing motorbikes in Italian style centres. I’m so grateful for such an experience because it gave me the opportunity to contribute to the design of some models of the most prestigious Italian and Japanese manufacturers. I have always associated my passion with work and this has allowed me to live with what I like to do. Over time, curiosity and the drive for new experiences led me to train with many industrial fields. The opportunity to experiment new technologies in sectors where they have not been used before is the little secret behind my unexpected solutions. Motorbikes were not just the beginning. They have always represented to me the feeling of freedom, of contact with a boundless and adventurous world that drives me to unknown and seemingly out of reach places. Along my career I’ve been experimenting with transportation design, industrial design, product design and interior design. While technology is extremely useful to shape objects, freehand drawing allows me to visualize such objects. Today my main purpose is filling the gap between art and design giving life to items which are pieces of art themselves. I’m working on a new process of design which places a work of art as inspiration for the design of new objects blossoming from the idea behind the art. I want to create objects inspiring the same sense of contemplation we feel by a piece of art, thus increasing the harmony of the places in which we live every day.
How many times did you visit Ukraine? What is your impression about Kyiv and this country? Is there anything that surprised you (in a positive or negative way)?
During last two years I’ve spent long periods in Ukraine. Gradually Kyiv has become one of my areas of active presence. I consider this capital the most interesting of the Eastern European area under both cultural and business points of view. It is a city constantly on the move that always offers something to do. I have met many Ukrainians here who speak the Italian language; Ukrainians are extremely sociable and fun people similarly to Italians. It was unexpected for me to integrate so quickly. People, food and the dynamism of Kyiv fit perfectly the need of who lives of emotions. I love intense contrasts and this a widely stimulating territory, great in providing opportunities and ideas.
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You created a modern electronic version of old Ukrainian instrument bandura. Please tell us about this project in details. Why did you decide to work with bandura? What are your impressions of working with Ukrainian musicians – B&B project? Are you considering participation is some more Ukraine-related projects in future?
I was very appreciative about the opportunity to introduce the project of the electric bandura at the competition organized by the association JCI Ukraine but the preference accorded to my project among about four hundred talented participant found me surprised as grateful. The idea came when I heard the music of two artists and friends Tanya Mazur and Sergei Shamrai from the "B&B project" group. They have created real masterpieces offering classical music and historical pieces in a modern key relying upon traditional instruments. I liked their work very much. We had a very satisfying collaboration. We were all the time in perfect harmony with the ideas. We have worked on the concept of "tradition and innovation" in a historical and social period of great importance for national history. Italians are not familiar to this traditional musical instrument and I was enthusiastic about the opportunity to combine Ukrainian music with Italian design! My stay here gave me the chance to discover many peculiarities and unexplored sides. I have many ideas to develop here that I consider culturally rich and stimulating. For example, this year I secretly introduced one of my studies of perspectives into the work I exposed during the event organized by the Folk Ukraine association, where each participant was assigned a traditional object of Ukrainian Easter on which it was possible to express their artistic skills. It was pretty funny sharing ideas in a multi-cultural enviroment! I think there is a lot to do here. Many projects can be developed thinking about a not too distant future.
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How do you see the main trends of object design in the world within the next 10 years?
During next few years object design will break dynamics we were used to. 3D printing is enough easy and cheap today to make people able to turn each design in a tailor-cut version of the original. This technology will lead to design challenges and unique opportunities. Think about what we can do with this technology having access to preferences and taste of people not as groups but as individuals. We can customize our life. Designers will be able to produce true personal experiences delivering the product on streaming. Or at your next door factory, when we’re talking about huge or complex items, like vehicles, furnitures and so on. I will be able, for example, using ordinary analytical tools to solve design problems by creating templates based on my clients' preferences. I could design for them the experience they will have living the environments in which they want to be. Pictures, objects, sounds, perfumes, lights or interactions of sensorial experiences in a room able to fit emotions, events or daily happenings like coming home after work or your family achievements. I think 3D printing will allow you to customize every detail. If we need kitchen accessories, a container for a particular space, a pair of shoes or even a game for our child, we can simply select it, adapting it to our personal taste and print it at home. We already have all the tools to do this. People will finally be part of the designing experience.That’s what’s up to come in next few years.
Interviewed by Kateryna Pavlova
Photos provided by Paolo Coia

Paolo Coia was born in Bari, Italy, in 1973. Starting from school years, he was attending art and painting courses, and also worked in sport motors design & production studio. Nowadays, Paolo expresses his talent and fantasy through creation of unique objects at the intersection of traditions and innovations, art and design.


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