Can you tell us a little about yourself?
My name is Riccardo Belli, I am a 23 years old product designer based in Maastricht. Last year I graduated from the Maastricht Academy of Fine Arts and Design, with a graduation project which involved food and a chef. Here in Maastricht, I started developing the project with the chef of restaurant Derlon.
I designed a menu based on my childhood memories, together with a poet who first rewrote my memories into poems. Afterwards, they have been given to the chef, who used them to make new dishes and an unique menu. In order to complete the whole project I designed special products made especially to taste the different courses, in the perfect way.
The reasons behind my fascination for food are my Italian roots. Food is really something intimates, and universal. By being a designer I want to tell stories; stories by using a language that could be universal. There are two universal languages, one is music and the other is food. Thus, if I can tell something that can touch and be understood by everybody, then, I really reached my goals as a designer.
What would you consider your distinctive achievement?
During the Dutch Design week in Eindhoven 2013, I received the Good Industrial Design award for my Bolea –Lounger. It was my first product that came to the market, thus it was really cool to see that the commission saw in it the perfect match between creativity and design, and gave Bolea the prize.
This year I was nominated for the Talented in Munich. It was nice to see how other ‘outsiders’ got some “warm feelings” about my philosophy and products.
What are you looking forward to?
I am really looking forward the next Design Week, because I have three projects going on. Recently, with few colleague designers I initiated an open design collective, DRUKVAT, and I am really enthusiastic about it. It’s not a traditional way of people working together but it’s like empowering each other, stimulating each other creativity, thanks to the mix of designers involved. You’re really trigger to break the boundaries thanks to this sort of ‘pressure cooker’.
It’s really a fast cross-over, and by being an open collective, it would be nice to always welcome other designers and see what they can bring in.
Which advise will you give to other professionals?
Always be passionate about what you do. No one has always achieved something by being lazy, so you have to do stuff, be proactive. Be confident in yourself, I believe that everybody has a story to tell, but if you want to be heard, then you have to work hard and connect with ‘the others’.
Nowadays, your network and knowledge are far more important than 10 years ago, so try to connect to each other and present your ideas and projects.
What are the challenges that we need to overcome to make cultural entrepreneurship more accessible?
It’s really important for young graduated designers to exhibit their work and have the support of institutions that could facilitate this stage. It’s really important to stimulate the opportunity to have a physical space, where you can work but also meet people. It’s important to have this in Maastricht, especially in the early stage of a career as a designer.