At the Istituto Marangoni Degree Show 2012, we at MouthLondon had the privilege of interviewing Francesco Draisci, architect extraordinaire and co-founder of the Architecture Design course at the institute.
Francesco has worked with the likes of Richard Rogers (the man behind what was then the Millennium Dome, the Canary Wharf South project and Heathrow Terminal 5), as well as Ron Arad (who has had exhibitions in the MOMA, the Barbican and the Pompidou Centre). However, Francesco’s own résumé is equally impressive: his Studio’s work has been exhibited at the V&A, his practice won the 40 Architects under 40 competition in 2005, and in 2009 Draisci was awarded the Design of The Year Award by The Design Magazine. All this, and he still manages to teach a course at the Istituto Marangoni, situated on the appropriately named Fashion Street in East London.
…influenced by a variety of different cultures and styles…
In conversation with Francesco, we asked him what had inspired him to help shape the Architecture Design course at IM, and with a twinkle in his eye he pronounced that it was “the adventure”. He went on to say that he had chosen to settle in London because it is an “international stage” that has been influenced by a variety of different cultures and styles. I commented that East London in particular is host to a variety of architectural mega-structures, for example The Shard. Asking Francesco what he thought about this new addition to the London skyline, he told us that he “love[d] everything about it… the design and the concept”, and explained that its architect, Renzo Piano, had been a colleague of one of Francesco’s reference figures, Richard Rogers.
As well as Richard Rogers, Francesco told us that he also looked up to Ron Arad as an inspirational architect and designer; it’s amazing that Francesco has been able to work with both of these men in the past, before setting up his own studio. However, Francesco stressed that it is difficult to answer such questions as “who is your favourite architect?”, comparing the question to “what is your favourite song?”: if you’re a music lover, it’s almost impossible to pick one, and you will probably have many favourites.
…the course is constantly evolving and changing to cater to a variety of interests…
I also asked Francesco about the nature of the course that he teaches. This year Francesco teaches one class, whereas last year there were four classes. Francesco also revealed that the class atmosphere varies depending on the interests and influences of the students. The international make-up of the students means that the course is constantly evolving and changing to cater to a variety of interests; Francesco’s willingness to go with the flow seems to be a testament to his teaching abilities and his passion for the ever-progressing world of architecture and design.
Our interview was interrupted by some of Francesco’s students, who were eager for him to meet their parents. However, Francesco graciously stayed to finish our conversation, and we wrapped things up; I asked him what gives the Architecture Design course at the Istituto Marangoni an edge – in other words, what is he most proud of? Francesco replied that he is most proud of the “generosity… in design terms” offered by not only him but by all of the teachers at the institute. He explained that the teachers are not afraid to “give away the tricks of the trade”, for the benefit of their pupils. Things that took the lecturers years to learn are imparted freely to the students, all for the love of design.
I could see from the enthusiasm of his students what a wonderful teacher Francesco must be; I can imagine some of them being interviewed in the future and citing Francesco Draisci on their list of inspiring architects!