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Paolo Trevisan of Pininfarina: “Research on innovations and materials is in constant evolution”

There has been a big acceleration of trends and innovations due to the pandemic. However, above all, we see that there is a big focus on improving the quality of our spaces for our wellbeing. To accomplish this goal, we need not only focus on technology and innovations for the end-user but also on innovation […]

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There has been a big acceleration of trends and innovations due to the pandemic. However, above all, we see that there is a big focus on improving the quality of our spaces for our wellbeing. To accomplish this goal, we need not only focus on technology and innovations for the end-user but also on innovation in the process of design and manufacturing. For instance, technology during the design process can help us test and implement the right solutions for anything, ranging from material selection to build. Research and user generated feedback can also help predict what solutions will be the best.

There are also many ways of improving the quality of our spaces using “low tech” solutions such as biophilic design, increasing natural light, and using natural materials. Greenery has the power to create moments of healing and tranquility for the mind, body, and spirit as well as to brighten and freshen a space. In addition, greenery can impact our smell and this can enhance one’s connection to the natural world. It can also improve our air quality through plants.


As a part of our series about “Homes Of The Future”, I had the pleasure of interviewingPaolo Trevisan.

Two-Three Sentence Bio: Paolo Trevisan is Head of Design and Architecture at Pininfarina of America. Working closely with Chairman Paolo Pininfarina and the Italian headquarters from the firm’s Miami base, Paolo is working to cultivate a multidisciplinary design team in the United States — responsible for managing and delivering projects that span industrial design, architecture and interiors, graphics and packaging, nautical and aeronautical design for the American continent. Paolo has managed more than 100 initiatives, including projects for The Related, Cyrela (the result of which was the firm’s first residential tower), Pasqualotto & GT, AECOM, The City of Miami Beach, Coca-Cola, Bovet, 3M, Magic Development. Paolo also served as a Jury member of the ADI — Associazione per il Disegno Industriale and recently sat on the board of jurors of the 2019 American Architecture Awards hosted by the Chicago Athenaeum.


Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would like to get to know you a bit more. Can you tell us a bit about your “backstory”? What led you to this particular career path?

My fascination with architecture was born from visits to construction sites with my father, from a very young age I was interested in what I would one day learn was the creative process of design. I was compelled by the concept of putting pen to paper in order to bring to life a completely abstract idea, so I eagerly pursued design as a result. Even so, the path was not linear -– living in multiple countries, studying a number of topics in school — occasionally pivoting during the early years of my career as new or intriguing opportunities caught my attention. Working across disciplines of design from transportation to graphic design for advertising, I learned that what inspires me the most is the ever-evolving relationship between the individual and society- a topic that is very much on our minds today given the current situation.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?

When I was in high school, I used to work on different summer jobs. One year, I was hired to help in the demolition of an apartment that was going to be completely renovated. One day, upon arriving at the job site, I noticed a few sketches of the new layout of the residence taped on a wall. I was immediately inspired and could not resist sketching my own vision, which I drew and left on the wall by the original drawings. A few days later, I received a phone call from the owner of the apartment who, as it turns out, really liked my sketch. He asked me to put the drawings into a plan, which I did and even got paid for! It was actually the first time that I ever received money for design work. A few years later, I was invited to see the apartment as I had designed it … it was a really incredible and rewarding moment.

Are you able to identify a “tipping point” in your career when you started to see success? Did you start doing anything different? Are there takeaways or lessons that others can learn from that?

I find myself in a constant evolution of seeing, experiencing, and learning. I do not define success as a specific moment in time — what is success really? I am excited and motivated by new challenges and inspired by always delivering the best.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person to whom you are grateful who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

I have to say that working side by side Paolo Pininfarina has been an invaluable experience. Following his family heritage, Paolo Pininfarina is a true visionary. Learning from the past and looking into the future to find the present’s solution is a motivating force in our design philosophy. Pininfarina’s expansion from the automotive to verticals including industrial design and architecture and interiors has been a natural one, and I am lucky to work at Pininfarina with our talented thinkers and designers with multidisciplinary backgrounds.

Do you have a book, podcast, or talk that’s had a deep impact on your thinking? Can you share a story with us? Can you explain why it was so resonant with you?

Over 15 years ago, I saw a very simple sketch by Stefano Marzano, then a designer at Phillips. The sketch depicts a living room with a few frames on the wall and a TV and some remote controls on a coffee table. It was simple, but it truly marked me in a deep way, as I saw the sketch representing the past, the present, and the future. It’s a reminder that as the years go by we evolve, technology evolves, and the world changes but as humans, we stay the same. We can learn from our behaviors and instincts, while using technology to help us and make our lives easier. This is still a philosophy I use today. If we place the human at the center of any experience, we can ensure that the experience is a positive one.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

My grandmother used to tell me this and it has stuck with me all my life: we have two eyes, two ears, and one mouth — you understand.

Ok super. Let’s now shift to the main part of our discussion. Homebuilding in the US has grown tremendously. We’d love to hear about some of the new trends and techniques that are being used to build the homes of the future. Can you share with us a few of the methods that are being used to make homes more sustainable and more water and energy efficient?

Some of the trends we’re seeing include an increase in spaces with abundant natural lighting, higher air quality, and outdoor access as we are seeing a stronger draw toward spaces that support health and wellness. The most popular design trend we are seeing is a minimalist aesthetic while utilizing sustainable products to further this commitment to healthy materials and wellness.

The long-term effects of this global pandemic will be evident in the design of residential spaces for years to come, which will see a greater demand for homes to be versatile, functional, modular, and adaptable to sudden lifestyle changes. The purpose for many spaces in the home will cease to be static, renters and buyers alike will seek spaces that serve multiple purposes. A living room may seamlessly convert into a gym and an office may transform into a bedroom, all with a great deal of ease — versatility in this sense translates to sustainability, because you need to power less space while serving a myriad of functions.

There is a lot of talk about Smart Homes. Can you tell our readers a bit about what that is, what that looks like, and how that might help people?

A Smart Home is a home equipped with technology that allows a user’s experience in the space to be easy, simple, and safe. It is one that removes barriers and makes them appear only when necessary through the help of technology and automatization. Whether we are talking about wellness, health, safety, a Smart Home has the power to optimize the experience of the inhabitants of a space. In addition, thanks to the data collection of many Smart Homes, this technology can help to identify potential security threats and can even assist with home maintenance by detecting and even predicting ahead of time faults and possible malfunctions of appliances, etc., all with the goal of optimizing the living experience of the inhabitants. Smart Home technology can also mean better management, in terms of sustainability, by monitoring things such as energy and water consumption, which can not only benefit a user’s wallet but can be environmentally positive.

Aside from Smart Homes, can you talk about other interesting tech innovations that are being incorporated into homes today?

There has been a big acceleration of trends and innovations due to the pandemic. However, above all, we see that there is a big focus on improving the quality of our spaces for our wellbeing. To accomplish this goal, we need not only focus on technology and innovations for the end-user but also on innovation in the process of design and manufacturing. For instance, technology during the design process can help us test and implement the right solutions for anything, ranging from material selection to build. Research and user generated feedback can also help predict what solutions will be the best.

There are also many ways of improving the quality of our spaces using “low tech” solutions such as biophilic design, increasing natural light, and using natural materials. Greenery has the power to create moments of healing and tranquility for the mind, body, and spirit as well as to brighten and freshen a space. In addition, greenery can impact our smell and this can enhance one’s connection to the natural world. It can also improve our air quality through plants.

Can you talk about innovations that are being made to make homes more pet friendly?

We are seeing a global trend of people treating their pets as family members. Pet products and services are on the rise, and pet friendly establishments and residences are becoming a must. Millennials and Gen Z are more likely to own pets, and this is creating a strong demand for curated and personalized experiences. Experiences that create a sense of community and offer support to pet owners will be key, especially in residential design. For example, dedicated areas for dog care in buildings, and even offering services such as dog day care, will be more prevalent as the market finds ways to cater to younger generations.

How about actual construction materials? Are there new trends in certain materials to address changes in the climate, fires, floods, and hurricanes?

Research on innovations and materials is in constant evolution. We work in different verticals from automotive design and engineering, to industrial design, and architecture, and we stay at the forefront of research in each field to ensure that we offer the best solutions as technology advances. We are able to transfer knowledge and know-how from one vertical to another easily, as well, which allows for innovation and creative solutions no matter the project type. Data and research, as well as knowing the regulations of countries, geographical areas, etc. are key in staying current about the latest trends.

For someone looking to invest in the real estate industry, are there exciting growth opportunities that you think people should look at more carefully?

Generation Z has had quite a bit of influence within residential design over the last few years as the generation is beginning to move into their own spaces. This generation favors easy accessibility, meaning they often seek an all inclusive “live, work, play” model. Incorporating amenities such as gyms, in-unit washer and dryers, pools, co-working business centers, and dog parks are ideal. Cycling has also grown to be a popular activity and mode of transportation among this age group. This phenomenon has been accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic, amplified by the desire to avoid public transportation. Catering to these residents, we’ve seen an increased demand for bicycle racks and storage.

Ultimately, we feel that a lack of amenities such as gyms, outdoor space, in-unit washers and dyers, etc. will likely deter this emerging generation from renting in a particular building or location. Location and accessibility is key for this demographic. Proximity to coffee shops, shopping centers, restaurants, and schools is also an important factor when considering where to live. All of these factors should be important to the real estate industry, as that is where we see the market moving.

Let’s talk a bit about housing availability and affordable housing. Homelessness has been a problem for a long time in the United States. But it seems that it has gotten a lot worse over the past five years, particularly in the large cities, such as Los Angeles, New York, Seattle, and San Francisco.

Can you explain to our readers what brought us to this place? Where did this crisis come from? Is there anything that home builders can do to further help address these problems?

Back in the day, cars were exclusively used by the nobility. With industrialization, cars became more affordable and more available to the mass market. We are very curious and exploring how we can learn from the evolution of the car industry for the housing industry — specifically, design for manufacturing. How can we minimize construction time and usage of materials? We are in active pursuit of a way to standardize and take advantage of the features of modularity with the end goal of reducing costs.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

This is a wonderful question worthy of a full essay in and of itself! Our goal is design that inspires emotion and creates memorable and enjoyable moments for those who interact with it.

How can our readers follow you online? 
Linkedin 
@Pininfarina_USA

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