Late last month, the designerati descended upon Stephen Weiss Studio in Manhattan to celebrate Fast Company’s annual Masters of Design issue. Over the last week, we’ve been posting video excerpts from the event, which included a lively panel discussion with a clutch of the design innovators featured in the magazine. Today’s spotlight: Mauro Porcini, 3M’s head of global design, on how he’s bringing Italian pizzazz (and his 65 pairs of shoes) to the company’s unassuming headquarters in St. Paul.
Americans, according to Porcini, take a Protestant view of design, privileging function over aesthetics. But that doesn’t mean consumers don’t buy products for looks, even if they won’t admit it. “Many times, people feel uncomfortable saying that they buy products because they like them, because of the aesthetic,” Porcini says. “So I’ve been sharing with [3M] that consumer research is so important. But we want to listen to consumers but not believe them, interpret what they’re telling us.” The maestro has injected Italian style not only into 3M products but into the company offices, which he’s spruced up with white epoxy floors and strips of pink carpet. Visitors might wonder if they’re in Minnesota anymore.