Interview with CoContest’s top designers and architects: Marco Grassi
CoContest: Where are you from?
Marco Grassi: I work and live in Meda, near Milan, Italy
CoContest: Which school did you graduate from?
Marco Grassi: I attended Politecnico di Milano where I got a degree in Architecture in 2006 discussing a thesis on the requalification of “ Ponte dei Mulini” ( mills bridge) in Mantova
CoContest: Tell us about your design career
Marco Grassi: After my degree I’ve been working in an architectural firm, at the beginning as an employee and then, after my state certification exam, as a collaborator. Such a work experience has been really helpful to gain skills as fast as interior design and decor and in-house design are concerned.
CoContest: Do you work freelance or a part of a firm? If a firm, which one?
Marco Grassi: Currently I’m working as a freelance designer. I owe much to the architect I’ve grown up with – Dr. Enrico Ballabio, who has helped me discover the magic behind the structures.
CoContest: What inspired you to become an architect?
Marco Grassi: Maybe my working career has always been marked: my father is in the architectural field as well and I remember doing my summer homework in his office. Growing up, throughout my university career, I had the opportunity of meeting and appreciating a lot of professionals who handed me down the passion for fine drawing and interior design
CoContest: What inspires you as an architect?
Marco Grassi: These days I try to focus on the functionality of what I plan without forgetting the aesthetic side. I just aim at making concreteness and beauty go hand in hand so that both the human aspects of matter and form can be satisfied. What has been inspiring me as an architect is Italian Rationalism ( and it is no wonder, since the famous Giuseppe Terragni is a fellow citizen ) even though my reference point is Aldo Rossi whose style played an important role in planning my degree thesis.
CoContest: Are there any designers/firms you look up to?
Marco Grassi: Obviously there are designers I look up to. As far as I’m concerned, I believe that a designer’s duty is to look wide, draw inspiration from what surrounds him and rework the matter according to his own ideas. For this reason I try to look up to the entire world of design.
CoContest: Any artist or publications that you draw ideas from?
Marco Grassi: As I wrote before, I try to monitor all the design trend very closely in order to rework it according to my personal style. If I have to mention someone anyway, I’ll say the modern architecture is one of my strongest sources of inspiration with its representatives Alvar Aalto and Louis Kahn.
CoContest: What would you say is your unique style?
Marco Grassi: As far as my style is concerned, I look for something modern and consistent avoiding what is frippery or overabundance, trying anyway to satisfy the customer’s requests. I usually aim at submitting my own ideas to the customer and then, if he’s willing to accept my proposal, we work it out together. Otherwise I try to support his demand.
CoContest: How did it develop?
Marco Grassi: My style has been improving and developing through experience. I must admit it was the failures which made me stronger and surely a better designer. Furthermore I think I am a good observer and so I have been drawing what I consider as ‘good’ inside the world of architecture in order to make it part of my unique style.
CoContest: How do you think CoContest is changing the landscape for designers?
Marco Grassi: I believe I was one of the first to join Co-Contest. At the beginning it was just for fun and curiosity, but then, as time went by, I got to know it an incredibly useful and powerful tool for those who still believe in meritocracy. Such an award means lets the customer choose the best, which is extremely rare in our society.
CoContest: What ways do you think the architecture market is changing in the years to come?
Marco Grassi: Even architecture is likely to adapt to the changes of the market. These days, the figure of the architect cannot be the one it was ten years ago. New technologies, new needs, different frameworks for action are modifying the role of the designer and thus, it’s of fundamental importance to learn how to deal with this new context. The drones, for instance, will become part of the basic equipment of an architect and we must be ready for that.
Another important aspect to deal with is the improving consciousness of the customer who is becoming less and less naive and more and more demanding.
CoContest: What potential do you see in the internet expanding away from customers doing business only with traditional firms?
Marco Grassi: As I have already said, internet has given birth to a new way of working: there’s a wide range of websites which are there to put in touch customers and designers thus letting the prices decrease and the quality increase. In that regard, I decided to manage an on-line business ( in addition to the canonical one) with a website called “progettodigitaleonline.it” where I provide customers with low cost design ideas without being blind to the quality of the project. Such an intuition enabled me – after the first difficulties- to cross the regional border and to work all around Italy.
CoContest: How do you think CoContest can be improved?
Marco Grassi: I think Cocontest is already a good global shared platform, nevertheless I believe that it could achieve its full potential through a better supervision of the supplied material and of its feasibility, even though I know it deals with ideas and not with final design.
CoContest: Have you seen any projects you admired on CoContest? If so which ones and why?
Marco Grassi: As an architect, I obviously look on other projects, especially the ones in the contest I take part to. Many of them were stunning but I definitely believe that the proper judge is the customer .
CoContest: What is your advice for young architects trying to make a name for themselves?
Marco Grassi: Although I don’t come under the category of young architect anymore, what I feel to suggest even to myself is never to give up at the first sign of trouble, and always to try new ways of thinking. If you try and try and you believe in what you do, you will probably succeed…or at lest you will be satisfied with your own effort. “Ever tried, ever failed: no matter. Try again, fail again, fail better”