Alessandro Maggioni is a visual designer, and founder of Astra – Design. He has a Bachelors in Industrial design, and specialises in communications. Alessandro works as a freelance designer, and also as a consultant for aspiring architects – people who are in the process of establishing their own style. His portfolio show us examples of the various services that he offers; from traditional works done on paper, to digital art and design. Alessandro has been a member of betahaus since October.
Could you tell us more about Astra, and about the vision behind your work?
The name Astra refers to the idea behind one part of my work; to make myself available to listen to what others have to say. I wanted to do something that involved listening to people and working with them. With architecture, you need to make sure not to do too much, as these days, it’s about simplicity; about taking things away rather than adding them on. If you take a look at my portfolio, you can see that I’ve done design work for different services; from web design, to corporate design, and many more. I’m always looking for new themes for my work.
You also work a lot with paper sketches. What inspired you to start working with paper, and how long would a typical paper illustration take to complete?
I recently started working with paper after having worked with pixels for a long time. I was looking to regain a certain manual aspect to my work, and I discovered that I could not only draw, but also cut paper to make illustrations – which added a whole other dimension to my sketches. In the beginning, it wasn’t so easy, as I’m not that great at drawing – but now that I have found a way to sketch out my design ideas before applying them to my final project, I find that it simplifies the process for me. For example, I recently worked on illustrations for a book. I had been stuck on an idea for quite some time, and after applying this idea to a paper illustration, I was able to continue to develop it.
About the time it takes – it depends on the project. Digital designs take more time, because the process is linear, and I often have to start over many times if something isn’t quite right. Depending on how complex the design is, it can take anywhere from two days to a week – sometimes I will cut out a sketch of my design, take a break, and finish the digital version. I recently collaborated with an Italian architect ,Chiara Pagano, who is also the author of the story »Gideon’s Tale«. She did the initial sketches for me, and I created a digital design based on that, adding a new dimension to the story.
Your website shows us different categories, such as illustrations, stop motion animation, 3D videos, and web design. What is your specialisation, out of those categories, and what is your target group?
I recently found myself wanting to try out new forms of communication. Most of the work you see on my website was done between 2005 and 2008, back when Flash technology was still something new. My 3D works are mainly related to architecture. My recent works made of paper have been used as illustrations. I used my illustrations for a spot for the Italian organisation SPI to promote its activities among retirees. Working with paper allows me to produce immediate results, and to convey things in a different way than I would with a digital design.
I’ve worked with architects, designers, and broadcasting studios; dealing mostly with the technical side of things. Right now, however, I’m focusing on storytelling: my latest project was a children’s book, which I found very interesting and enjoyable.
You are planning to do an exhibition here in betahaus. Could you tell us more about your exhibition, and how you found out about betahaus?
The exhibition is focused on my latest projects. one of them being the book, “Gideon’s Tale”, where I try to enhance traditional storytelling by using various forms of new media.
Before I came here, I was in a situation where I had many ideas, but no way in which to develop them. Italy is a very traditional society, and it’s difficult to really research new ideas. When I came to Berlin, I knew that I wanted to do something different than what I had been doing in the past. Before, I had always worked alone, and I wanted to break this habit. I knew that betahaus was a coworking space, and that the ODC was a similar environment focused on design and crafts, so I thought this would be a good fit for me.
You have participated in some projects with Studio Convertino Services, such as advertising campaigns running throughout Italy. You also collaborated with another designer, Stefano Mandato. Could you tell us a little more about these collaborations?
Convertino is a very important Italian studio where I got chance to do my internship, and with whom I later had the chance to collaborate. I absolutely recommend that you visit their website if you want an idea of true modern Italian style design. The studio has been a major innovator since the early 1980s, and I learned a lot there. You also mentioned my collaboration with Stefano Mandato. He is my colleague – we had met in a studio in which we worked together, and he proposed a collaborative project. I was very much interested, as we had been working in different areas of the field; myself, being more of a conceptual designer while he designed logos, pictograms, and more technical things. We eventually found a way to work together using certain techniques and software, and I have to say that I am happy with our work so far.