Tuesday, December 29, 2009

CR&S Designer Donato Cannatello

In this article I interview Donato Cannatello, lead designer at CR&S, about his work, his approach to motorcycle design and the development of the DUU.

What is your educational background and work history in industrial design?

I started with graphic design (that’s the basis of all the design), entertainment software development, some studies in engineering, a degree in industrial design and a lot of hand made jobs/projects/prototypes all of which lead me back to my earlier passion: motorcycle design.

Do you have a design philosophy in general? Regarding motorcycles specifically?

I have an “industrial” design philosophy. Industrial design is not Art. Art is something made in one piece, Industrial design is produced in more than one. So, as opposed to Art, design needs to respond to some important rules.

For sure, design in motorcycle production is strictly connected to the function of the part in drawing, but generally the first thing you need to consider about a design project is the target, so design rules need to follow market rules. Then I like to take what I have, and apply it throughout the job; starting from the capabilities of the producing company, ending with the functionality of the part I’m drawing.

Who and what are your influences/favorite designers?

In accordance with my age, my influences are strongly lead by ’80s & ’90s motorcycle production. These were not the happiest years for motorcycle design, plastic was everywhere, but it was the birth of modern industrial design in the motorcycle field. Later I discovered values such as “strength” and “feeling” in design, and so plastic was substituted by more noble and durable materials such as iron, alloy and carbon fiber. So I can say I have no influences from any single person, but from their work and the materials and shapes they used.

Can you give some examples of what you consider to be great design?

I think the design of an object is as difficult as it is useful. This is why, the more it is useful, the less it needs aesthetic design. So the best for a designer is to produce something useful, appealing, cost-correct, extremely durable, and revolutionary (if required). For example in the field of industrial design I love my Motorola S9 bluetooth earphone, it’s minimal, very well working, great sound but revolutionary and cheap. Yes… No design is the best design.

What was your role was in the design of the VUN? And the DUU?

Other than some minor restyling and additional parts I did not work on the VUN.

On the DUU I started from the drawing of the first concept based on the X-wedge engine. Later my first job was focused on the layout and distribution of the components. Then I lead the entire process, for sure under the leadership of Roberto (Crepaldi), but was even busy with the 3D modeling of some parts of bodywork and of mechanical components.

Can you share some insight into the design philosophy that was applied to the DUU?

The whole motorcycle (the DUU) has been built and conceived around the know-how of CR&S and its target, so expressing the maximum possible between those two parameters. According to this, the final design of the DUU respects at the best the function of each part, and going on, no “useful” parts are covered but are instead exposed. The engine, the suspension, the frame, and wheels are naked and we made a great effort to fit all the rest around, not in front of, those components.

What is your favorite part on the DUU? Why?

Generally about the DUU I like all the component layout. I think the motorcycle works very well in this field, and this is confirmed by the modularity aspect. The motorcycle works in any configuration and this means the base project was correct. Anyway, in detail, my favorite part of the DUU is the fork clamps and risers group, I think they look strong but light, modern but classic.

Can you describe the design process at CR&S, who are your main collaborators and how do you work together?

Experience with the DUU was very interesting because it lead us to a more modern way of building a motorcycle. In the design development we have applied some new technologies allowing us to have processes that avoid scale modeling and reverse engineering.

Everything began with Roberto (Crepaldi), he gives me the basis to work on. Then I made the first drawings on the general volumes, structure and design. Later I built a more deep step in 3D, and the engineer Beppe (Bulla) started working on the possibilities to make such a frame and structure. We made a complete 3D model of the motorcycle (even internal bolts), so Domenico (Lavorata) and Nicolò (Koschatzky) built the first prototype following our drawings. Then me and Stefano (Destro) worked on the bodywork surface parts and other mechanical details, and built them directly with CNC technology.

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