Diego on Diego
Am I a designer? I don’t know. I like to be an ‘in between person’, part designer, part artist, part maker. I’m fine with everything.
Diego on the bucket list
My hair is long. A few years back I shaved it off because that was on my bucket list. Now I’ve grown it again. I didn’t like it, but at least I tried it. A few other things that are on my bucket list: covering a urinal with clay and, hopefully, a caravan or a house as well.
Diego on studying
I studied design in Bordeaux, and I did not like it. I did not like the school, the attitude of the teachers and even what we were being taught, because much was irrelevant, like math classes. The French education system in general is very strict and hierarchic. Or as our teachers liked to put it: I am the master, you are shit. When I discovered the Design Academy Eindhoven, I knew I wanted to go there, because it felt like the opposite of the Bordeaux academy. Of course, I was a young and naive boy and did not know what I was getting into. If I would have been fully aware of what has been revealed recently [sexual intimidation, drug abuse and discrimination according to the Bezemer & Schubad report in April 2021] I would not have chosen to go there, although there always have been rumours. At Man and Leisure I was in an ‘okay department’ of the academy, so I was not struggling as much as some other students from other departments. Looking back at my time there, it is a blur. There were great moments, as well as awful ones. I was both bashed and lifted up.
Diego on life lessons
The most valuable lesson I learned at Design Academy Eindhoven is to enjoy what you do and not to care what other people think. Everything I do, is justified by myself.
Diego on efficiency
My dad is obsessed with efficiency and routine. To illustrate this: my mom can spend a whole afternoon in the kitchen, making a pie for dinner. It will be a good pie and my father will enjoy it. However, when he makes a pie, he does it as fast as possible, so he can present a 60-minute pie. He has been showcasing his efficiency for ages, also when I grew up. It did not affect me to be honest, because I am a slacker, always late for appointments and taking things easy. But with the project Minute Manufacturing, I am approaching my work like my father would do.
Diego on famous artists
I discovered proper art quite late. I forgot which artists triggered my imagination. They must have been obscure, probably contemporary artists from the 1960s.
Diego on crafts
I have always been bad at painting, sculpting and photography, to name a few disciplines. I don’t want to offend true craftsmen by trying to be good. To be honest, I am bad at a lot of things because I have no interest in them. I am decent – not brilliant – with Playdough, that’s it. For readers who want to work with Playdough themselves, I have a few pointers: always apply 3 layers. 1 layer is never enough and 4 will cause cracks, I learned that the hard way.
Diego on success
I don’t like to put pressure on anything: let things develop as they come. That is why I am now making Playdough furniture for a living, which makes me laugh sometimes. It is a bit absurd that my business is doing so well. I have already sold a few 100 products and it allows me to eat and pay my rent. I guess it’s because my work is so funky and colourful [Diego’s favourite colour is magenta]. Some like to compare it to the work of Keith Haring. The project has enabled me to do some crazy things. I even covered an ugly staircase in an old Viennese building as a part of the Vienna Design Week. If people get tired of my Playdough objects, I will figure out something else. I don’t feel pressure, I am very good at rebounding.
Diego on China
In China I discovered Playdough. I was there in 2016 with my painter friend, getting lost in a strange city with 12 million people. By accident, I got involved in an exhibition. I went to an art shop and saw big bags of coloured clay. I bought some and started to cover a chair with the clay and immediately thought: this makes sense. I was happy to discover the procedure because the furniture I was making back then looked like crap. I am a terrible furniture maker.
Diego on Minute Manufacturing
The project was inspired by my side job in a metal factory, during my studies. I had to count each piece of metal and the number of minutes I was allowed to work on it. The pressure to do things within a given time, making products identical and perfect, is the reality for many people. Minute Manufacturing is my reaction to mass production and the value of labour. The modern way to produce objects is repetitive. All products are identical. Any iPhone is an iPhone. That bothers me and that is why all my objects are unique. Am I providing a solution? No. Making objects of Playdough is not a viable solution. I don’t think I will live long enough to witness the solution. I am not an optimistic person at all.
Diego on business
My concept is getting paid by the minute. I think that is a fair price, but if inflation kicks in, I will be completely screwed. My business plan is not very good either, because the time I spend to clean up waste material or to ship products is not covered by the ‘one euro for one-minute’ concept. So, an object I worked on for 600 minutes costs 600 euros. I don’t do discounts. A gallery that wants to sell my 600-minute product for 1200 euros, has some serious explaining to do to their clients. To me, that is hilarious.
Diego on the Diegoscopy
This is the name of my website. It was basically a prank for my internship. I made a microscopic portfolio, size A9, combined with a magnifying glass, and I send it to several people. I imagined that the addressee had to open the whole thing like a surgeon, so I called this operation the Diegoscopy. Putting my own name on this prank, but also on the clay and the currency, is something one of my teachers taught me: people will be more willing to accept you when you put your name on your designs and make fun of it.
Diego on the future
Recently, I was asked to participate in a pop-up store called ‘9,99’, so I am now trying to create objects in just under 10 minutes. For that purpose, I got a lot of waste material like plastic swords, toy cars and vases that I will cover with Playdough. What the near future will look like? I don’t know. I have no plans. My parents would very much like me to get a job. I am an instinctive person, and I can be reckless. Within a week, I could come up with a new project. Maybe this interview will trigger something, who knows.