How to Talk with an Architect

Interview with Sergio Vicenzino, Estel's Sales Director

Which are the skills a company has to leverage in order to best interpret and implement the work of an architect? How does one relate to the work of a designer, especially in the case of large-scale and complex projects? We asked Sergio Vicenzino, Estel’s Sales Director, to share his prospective as a way of understanding what goes into building a solid link between those who design and those who manufacture.

To meet an architect’s request with reliability and experience is a skill that is universally recognized only to very few manufactures. And, among them, the names of Italian design have been able to aptly leverage the virtues and qualities of the country’s production chain. Estel is for sure one of those companies with vast and deep experience in this field, having tested its production capacity over the last twenty years with complex and customized Italian and International orders.

Case History

When did the transition that enabled your company to meet complex demands start?

“Our first project of this kind was for the Italian Postal Service (Poste Italiane), at the time when this institution began a thorough restructuring, a process involving 14000 offices and branches disseminated across Italy. It was the year 2000, and Michele De Lucchi’s project hinged upon a revolutionary layout, in terms of criterion and format: it focused upon the Agency’s ability to better relate to the public, which translated into designing a reception area requiring a careful study in order to adequately render the designer’s concept. Our important contribution was to identify technicians and companies able to deliver a particular detail that involved the peculiarly shaped stainless steel supporting surface. In the end, we were able to find the solutions we were looking for, with the constant guide of our technicians and experts from the kitchen production sector. This project lasted three years.”

What team should be leveraged in support of projects?

“Estel’s team comprises technicians and sales executives who are in constant touch with suppliers and designers. This triangulation has allowed us, over the years, to manufacture products that aptly render the designer’s concept, always ensuring cost control and production on an industrial scale. When the numbers truly matter, production must be scaled, and timing, both in terms of financial objectives and production schedules, is of the essence. And these are aspects that very often only we have the “courage” or “ambitions” to pursue."

Case History

Case History

So, there is a dose of personal involvement in the project…

“For sure – for example, Architect De Lucchi worked with us on another very engaging project in 2003, when he re-designed the layout concept of Banca Intesa. In this case, we engineered some prototypes to better define the standards of this commission. It was the bank itself that asked us to develop facilities to manufacture products designed for its agencies. In this case, it was our expertise, our ability to interpret the design concept and provide answers addressing regulation, functionality and budget that made the difference and ensured a perfect articulation of the product on an industrial scale”.

 “Another project we recently completed across Europe, for all 3000 Alfa Lancia dealers, and which was designed by the GTP Studio, required us to interpret the architect’s concept turning it into product and working it with a diversity of materials, from aluminum honeycomb panels, either lacquered or padded, to special curved glass for exhibition modules and 3M adhesive films. It was a great challenge for us, but we derived much satisfaction from our ability to manage all parties involved and assemble different materials with which we generally we do not work.”

What potential does your knowledge carry, if aptly leveraged in the workplace?

“Today, with the advent of Smart Working, we can multiply types of work environments ad infinitum. It is interesting to note how the architect, at times, may find it difficult to juggle a variety of furnishings from different manufacturers. Very few people, if any, can guarantee a product from A to Z, and this complicates and magnifies the administrative management of the commission and the delivery timetable. Furthermore, one runs the risk of losing uniformity of design and style, just like one may lose the ability to communicate on a one-on-one basis.

As in the example of the BNL project in Rome, signed by Architect Paolo Mantero, or the Banca Popolare in Milan, commissioned to the Gensler Studio, we respond to challenges by assuming full management of the project and its requirements. In the case of the two projects I mentioned, we leveraged our collections and, where they could not support us, created customized solutions for the designer to rely upon, adding external research, the scouting of special supplies, and the possibility of producing internally what was needed.

The ability of assist designers becomes even more important, when it comes to Smart Working projects, since architects can hardly find a single company capable of bringing to fruition drawings that incorporate the new areas and functions required by this new employment concept”.

Case History