FUSE 2011 Speaker Spotlight: Mauro Porcini, Head of Global Strategic Design, 3M

In the weeks leading up to FUSE 2011, we're going to be hearing from the speakers! This week we have Mauro Porcini, Head of Global Strategic Design, 3M, who will be presenting the keynote address "Becoming a Design-Sensitive Company: How to Extend the Influence of Design Across the Organization" at FUSE 2011. To learn more about FUSE, download the brochure here!

1. Tell us about a project you are working on or recently completed that you are proud of?

There are many exciting projects that I am working on at the moment, in a variety of different categories, and many of them are classified as confidential, but if I have to pick up one that I particularly love amongst the recently launched then I would choose the design of our Filtrete® Water Station. The world is inundated by plastic water bottles and this is a renowned problem for our environment. Yet, plastic bottles are convenient, ready to use, portable, accessible anywhere. And, last but not least, in a branded world, they carry a pleasurable branded experience. People hates them and love them. Leveraging innovative 3M technologies, a careful analysis of user behaviors, needs and wants, and a deep understanding of the market dynamics, we came up with a simple elegant solution: a device that quickly filters water directly into four 16.9 oz. reusable bottles. The device and the four bottles can be placed all together inside the refrigerator and be ready for use any moment. A convenient, enjoyable, eco-friendly solution that blends the practical and emotional benefits of the two experiences into one, saving up to 3,000 bottles of water, over 100 lbs. plastic and more than $400, per year per family. And it seems people are appreciating the innovation we are proposing to them.


2. Think ahead 5 years, what major changes for design do you see?

Design will be embedded strategically into any organization, no matter the market place, the nature of the business, the geography. From the bottom to the top of the organization hierarchy. We live in a society where
- The WorldWide Web has increased Awareness,
- The Global Market has increased Accessibility,
- Social Networking is acting as Filter and Amplifier of relevant information in communities of peers
- Four Different Generations are co-living for the first time in history, with different drivers and different backgrounds, into the same society

This hyper complex, hyper accelerated scenario has generated modern consumers that are getting more and more spoiled, self-aware and smart: corporations need to provide solutions that are holistic, they need to generate products or services that can enable the enjoyable fulfilling experiences that people are seeking. If your company won’t do it, that’s not a problem: somebody else will do it for you.

Design therefore is becoming not a choice anymore. It’s a must and it will keep expanding into corporations simply because it is the best discipline to act as interpreter and catalyst of the different variables to be considered when you are called to invent and execute holistic solutions.

3. What inspired you to get in the field? What keeps you motivated?

I have grown surrounded by the fascinating smell and sound of Italian old wood, paper, erasers and pencils in the architecture studio of my father, in a small court in the charming city of Gallarate, out of Milano. My grandfather has passed the last 20 years of his life painting, with all kind of techniques and my house as a kid has been always filled with his art and the one of my own father. This background, blended with a visceral love for creativity, invention, beauty and art, has been the driver for my initial choice. And I have to admit, it has been a lucky intuition, as at the time I was only partially aware of the real charm of this fantastic discipline.
What keeps me motivated is the vision. I always aim for something bigger, smarter, better. In my life, in my projects, in my work. Always. Without rest. A life without a vision, without a dream, without the passion that everyday drives me to get to a better condition, to generate a better solution, to craft a better world, is not a life that I can even consider. Both in the professional and in the private field. Who knows me, knows it well.

4. What is one thing you’re excited about for this year’s Fuse?

Having the pleasure to open the conference with the first speech and doing it just before Karim Rashid, a friend, a partner and a professional that I admire for how has been able to design hundreds of products and environments appealing and accessible to the masses, yet unique and sophisticated, transforming his own name in a valuable brand. You can count the individuals that have been able to do all of it together, at worldwide level, on the fingers of your hands. I am sure there will be a good karma in that first hour of the conference….

5. What is your favorite brand?

I would say Steve Jobs: a man that definitely has reached the status of a brand thanks to his vision, to his passion, to his personal history, to his achievements. I will never forget his Commencement speech at Stanford. Each designer should be thankful to Steve, as he was able first of all to show to the business world that design can generate value for corporations beyond beauty and coolness.

The second one is Prada: elegance, class and innovation magically blended in perfect balance. Prada creations are music to see, harmony for your eyes. The brand is never showed off, and even when exposed is an accent of class stitched in a corner, in a delicate way, there to remind you and others the belonging to a superior world of charm and exclusivity.


6. If you could invite 2 people to dinner (dead or alive) who would they be?

The first one would be Plato. His theories about Love as the driver of the universe, as a process of pursuing the good by creation through both body and soul, as desire to create (and procreate), stimulated by any contact with beautiful things and deadened by the encounter of ugliness. Love as a driver to create in the body by generating children, or in the soul by creating works of art and philosophy, Love as a process and a bridge between the mortal and the divine each of us aspires to, a gateway toward attaining immortality.
Love as Design! What a wonderful dinner I would have with Plato! I wouldn’t need a second guest actually. He would be enough…..

7. What is your dream project?

Design a system that can establish the Happiness of People as the new most important metric for business analysts to judge corporation’s performance and stock value. Reward the stock of corporations that produce happiness in the society and happiness for their own employees. I would love to design a system and its related metrics that would ignite the corporate war for happiness.

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