Spanish Design for Italians: Anna Caterina arrives at CEU Valencia

She has just arrived from Venice although she is originally from Bologna, “the city of lasagna and tortellini”, as she points out to us. Just with that geographical input we could already imagine that she had to know something about design. Because if Italy is known for something – other than the lasagna, of course – is because of design. 100% Made in Italy. That is why we wanted to meet her on this her first day at our uni, to chat a little about how she understands design and what her learning expectations are.

Her name is Anna Caterina, she studies Product Design and today she starts her adventure as an Erasmus + student here at University CEU Cardenal Herrera University, benvenuta! ??

Anna Caterina, has just landed in Valencia for her Erasmus+ experience.
Anna Caterina, has just landed in Valencia for her Erasmus+ experience.

You know, Anna Caterina, one of the great advantages Italian students have is that when they arrive in Spain, they feel almost at home. Are we right, are we as culturally similar as we think?

The truth is that, as soon as I arrived in Valencia, the first thing I thought was… that my life until now had been a big lie! The sun exists, it is there even in February! The truth is that I was pleasantly surprised by the good temperature you have here because back home in Italy winter is usually very cold. And what else to say about Valencia: it is a beautiful city where it is very easy to meet people and enjoy life. But above all, the sun. That is what is making me fall in love with this city.

And not only the weather, but also the people are warm and very welcoming. I feel that here I can approach people, talk to them; which is great, because that way I can improve my English and learn Spanish. I want to take advantage of my Erasmus+ stay to improve my level of Spanish, which is currently a B1.

You will see that we, people from the south, understand each other perfectly. By the way, tell us a little more about Product Design: Could you give a definition to those who, just like us, are not familiar with that field?

That is a very complicated question to answer, even in Italian. What a product designer does is basically, to plan. We want to create objects, so we study how to plan them so that they are functional, beautiful and have a special something to them; something symbolic that identifies that product and differentiates it from the rest. That is design.

The difficult thing is not so much to define design as to make other understand design, because people usually do not understand it or they have this impression of it as something superficial. As I have just told you, it is pure planning. And what we try is to create objects which have a form, function and meaning.

Venice, one of the most beautiful cities in the world.
Venice, one of the most beautiful cities in the world.

And coming from Italy, home to a cutting-edge design industry… what do you hope to learn here in Valencia during your Erasmus + stay?

First of all, I think design is in everything. And to study design and to actually learn how to design, you must travel to other countries, know other cultures, even other cuisines! In short, a designed object is nothing more than the result of your interactions with other people, with other visual inputs, with different cultures. Because, in the end, designers create objects for people and, if we do not know them, we can never create those objects for them.

Designers are normally open-minded, liberal people… even a little bizarre! So what I expect from the ESET is precisely that: a relaxed atmosphere where learning through interaction with classmates and teachers.

And tell us, do you have any reference in the field of design?

I really like the work of Achile Castiglioni for example. The classics have always been the best designers, in my opinion. I like simple projects, the simplest ones. For example, BIC pens: they  simple, yet very effective. And, in our society, almost evryone uses or has used BIC pens, but we are not all aware that these are a design piece because they seem to be pretty very simple. As I was saying, people think that design is something eccentric, colorful and useless… when in fact it is just the opposite.

You come from the Università Iuav di Venezia, so it will not be difficult for you to convince our future designers to get to know your city better…

Of course, visiting Venice is something unique: it is one of the most beautiful cities in the world. And it is also a great destination for a designer because, wherever you look, you will always discover some eye-catching building, sculpture or perspective. It has a lot of history, many historical bridges, it’s like an open-air museum! There is even a bridge designed by a Valencian architect, Santiago Calatrava.

So there you have a connection between Valencia and Venice and, if you like his work, you are just in the right place. Grazie for your time Anna Caterina, and enjoy the rest of your stay in Valencia.


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