What was your first automotive job and why were you interested in the industry?
I have always loved art, painting and any representation of beauty. I was never particularly into cars, but when my dad was looking to buy one, I started to become interested and to sketch them in my spare time. I didn’t even know that such a job as a car designer existed. My first job was at Bertone right after school in 1997.
Being so influential in shaping the design DNA of a company (Kia) and attaining the position and responsibilities I have at Land Rover, which is such a prestigious and unique brand, are big accomplishments, but my greatest achievement was convincing my dad that I could actually make a living from designing cars.
What was your biggest failure and what did it teach you?
I started studying mechanical engineering at the University of Pisa, thinking that it would be the right path for getting into car design. I soon realized, however, that numbers were not emotional enough for me.
What is your current challenge at work?
To evolve Land Rover design and lead the team along this journey of transformation for the brand following the vision of our design director, Gerry McGovern.
What about the auto industry surprises you?
Often I am surprised by how everyone tends to do the same thing. If you walk around an auto show, you can barely tell the difference between one brand and another. It is far more conservative and safer to follow the trends than create them. At Land Rover, we take great pride in being very distinctive. A Land Rover is a Land Rover – it’s highly recognizable.
What is the best advice you have ever received?
Simplicity lasts forever; always let your work be emotional and speak for itself. What simplicity gives you is a timeless quality to design. Look at classic cars. They are so simple. You can design them with three lines, while there are cars out there that have so many design elements that you could design five cars out of one. Ten years later, people struggle to remember those cars. I guess competition is so fierce out there that it feels like automakers want to do something different. Being different is something relatively easy in design, but it is difficult to make it look good.
What advice would you give to a person considering a career in the auto industry?
Find personal gratification and rewards in what you do. Don’t expect that from others all the time, because it doesn’t always come. You know when you have done a good job and that makes you stronger, even if you don’t get a pat on the back. Hard work always pays off and it is drive that makes you do this job properly. If you don’t have passion, if you don’t have drive, you just cannot do it. It’s not a nine-to-five job. Either you feel it, or you don’t. It never stops. You are always thinking about it. I feel very lucky to be doing this job.
If you were CEO of a company, what would you do first?
Communicate my vision as clearly as possible and get to know the people working with me to make sure that there are no square pegs in round holes.
What job do you really want to have in the future?
I want to stay creative and continue working with creative people. Even at the highest level, this is so important. Also, in the future, I would like to have the experience of designing other things such as boats, watches and furniture.
What do you do to relax?
I like to read on the Internet a lot. It’s an infinite source of news and inspiration. I also listen to music, play the drums and follow the Juventus Football Club (Turin), one of the great loves of my life, even if it is not always relaxing.
What was your first car?
The first car I bought was a very cheap, used, bright red Austin Metro that I purchased from a bishop. It lasted only two weeks (because I crashed it). What I really consider to be my first car was a Lancia Beta Coupe.
Jaguar F-Type convertible and Range Rover Sport.
2014-present: Creative director exteriors, Land Rover, Gaydon, England
2011-2014: Creative studio chief, Land Rover, Gaydon
2005-2011: Senior designer/design manager, Kia Motors, Irvine, California, USA
2000-2004: Senior designer, Ford Motor Company (Lincoln Mercury), Irvine, California, USA
1997-2000: Designer, Stile Bertone, Turin, Italy