Gum Design: when Design becomes a story


Today I am pleased to present an interview that brings me joy and pride. Who would have thought that I would ever have the pleasure to speak with Gabriele and Laura from Gum Design and be able ask them all of the questions I had been wondering about for such a long time? It’s true, because for me, it was a creative study with some of the most interesting poets of contemporary design.

gum design

Gabriele, Laura and me

gum design

A detailed study of Gum

Initially Gum had caught my attention for the aesthetics and form of its products. Then talking with the creative couple, I was struck by their attitude: I discovered a world of stories and thoughts. Of pure creativity. Of dreams! It was a meeting that has enriched me, both from a professional and human point of view. The enthusiasm and passion that they had while talking about their work was really contagious, as well as being great inspirations for creative people of all ages.

Video interview

ME > Tell us, who is Gum Design?

GUM (Gabriel)> Gum Design was founded in 1999, when Laura and I meet at a Goliardica event at the Salone Satellite in Milan. After a while Laura became my companion and then my wife. From then, from the Salone Satellite this experience began that always brings us closer and closer to the world of design, the graphics, the stands, and consequently to the world of fairs. Today, our studio deals with all of these issues.

ME > How did you know how to perfectly create this wonderful reality and how have you largely materialized?

GUM (Laura)> We come from very different realities, he comes from the world of architecture and I come from the world of design and graphics. Our different backgrounds gave us the opportunity of bumping into each other and meeting. What we really love to do for each project design that we face, is to create it along with a story. To ensure that it is a little bit like how to read a book and a bit like a story to browse, to understand and to speak about. We combine the part of a story to a more solid design.

ME > Were there critical moments when you thought, we can’t do it, let’s change our path?

GUM (Gabriel)> More than just critical moments, there were times when one of us would think about changing lives, not for the work, but because you think about changing. Then three years ago we had our little girl, which also changed a number of perspectives. But this is a job that we like and that occupies every day of our daily life, we can’t see ourselves doing anything else and this is probably what we will do for the rest of our lives.

ME > So how important is the love and passion for what you do?

GUM (Laura)> The key is: you must love and have passion and dedication for your work.. You must have all of this because besides just having to invent every day, you must be happy while you do it.

ME > Define design for me, what is design to you?

GUM (Gabriel)> Design is a thought, a reflection. There are those who have described our objects as “solid stories.” Behind every product there is an initial phase of research, analysis and above all, as we said before, there is a story. The shape, while it’s  important with its meaning and its logic, it becomes almost secondary. For us the most important part is that the narrative so that each object is a narrative.

ME > And this is precisely the philosophy of Gum.

GUM (Gabriel)> Exactly. In every project we try to find something that can tell more about the object and can extend beyond its pure physical representation.

ME > Definitely interesting. In my personal experience I knew about you for “Calici (Goblets)”, “Swing” in particular, which I find very attractive because it manages to combine form with function, and aesthetics and interaction without penalizing others spheres. With the collection of ” Calici Caratteriali (Character glasses)” I know you also won many awards for it, in which you became part of the permanent collection of MoMA of San Francisco. I was interested to know how exciting it is to have your own products in such an important museum.

GUM (Gabriel)> It is a great satisfaction. “Swing” which was created in 2007 and was later changed to ““Estroverso” (the Extrovert) in 2011 when the extensive collection of “ Calici Caratteriali” was created. They are part of the collection the ”’Estroverso”, the ”Introverso”, the “Rilassato”, the ‘”Altruista”, the “Passionali”, etc. Each of these glasses is an aspect of a character that is part of being human.

It is called the “’Estroverso (Extrovert)” because it offers to others, in a fun, humorous and spontaneous way. It depends on how you move the glass, on one side there is the decanting of wine, from another part it becomes a game of moment and encounter. Being at the table, an object of this type, initially generates a bit of astonishment, followed by fear to touch it out of fear of breaking it, but then, you start to play with it and it becomes a reason to smile, for dialogue, for a story, resulting in an animated table.

GUM (Laura)> For ” Calici Caratteriali ” it was a design stimulating the relationship between the crystal, a beautiful and fragile material, with man and their vulnerabilities. Each of the ” Calici or Glasses” stays true to the shape of the glass from the classic taste, but each character has a small stylistic transformation that characterizes the personality.

ME > Are the glasses the product that represents you most or is there something else that you are more emotionally or conceptually related to?

GUM (Gabriel)> It’s hard to say because all of our projects contain all these narrative paths that are difficult to build and elaborate on. For this, they are all emotional. The glasses are, however, perhaps the product to which we are more tied to because it marks the beginning of a new design for the company. With “Calici ” we started to design with that philosophy of storytelling that characterizes us. They are a bit like a first child, the beginning of a mature design process. And it is an object that gives us satisfaction, both having been acquired in the permanent collections of the MoMA, the Glass Museum in Shanghai, the Triennale, and because it is a product that works well commercially.

ME > Since the beginning of this adventure, to this day, and then in the future, how is it that Gum Design adapts to changes in lifestyle and to what people want?

GUM (Gabriel)> Our firm, being one small studio, is able to be very flexible and this flexibility enables us to adapt to social needs. Often we create events that later turn into real business projects. We think that this can be a smart solution to address the market that is constantly changing. For  this reason, we design objects, houses, and graphics, but we also design containers inside and insert a series of representations of different design approaches, involving other designers, and people that we value.

Our latest project of this type is “Biloft”, which was presented for the Fuori Salone del Salone del Mobile Fair last year, which is a container that is still continuing to be transformed, becoming a shared business project.

With “Biloft”, after the fair, we made a stop in Riccione and in September we will make a stop in Venice for the Biennale of Architecture, there we will be in a large space of about 200sqm near the Arsenale.

ME > You are very connected to the future.

GUM (Gabriel)> It is a way to feel close to the real changes. Besides that, for about a year and a half we have undertaken the self-production experience with the project ” La Casa di Pietra (The House of Stone).”

“La Casa di Pietra” was made for the Marmomacc fair in Verona and an initial exhibition with 12 of shown product collections, today we are working at 31 ° and in July we will be in Rome for Altaroma in Via Margutta.

“La Casa di Pietra” has thus become a real business project that involves only selected Italian craftsmen in Italy. We started to build a real catalog which now contains about 120 products that speak about joining stone and other materials.

ME > What do you wish for the future?

GUM (Laura)> Happiness!

GUM (Gabriel)> What everyone wants … peace of mind … but you are saying from a professional point of view?

ME > Yes, anything ..

GUM (Gabriel)> Yes, the most important thing is to be happy. Happiness influences, also in a professional point of view, happiness must be present to be able to plan well, along with harmony and balance. In our studio, we have a lab, which is a kind of studio within the studio, where we welcome young designers who want to experience Gum Design. The Lab for us is very important, a constant stimulus that keeps us close to young people and gives the studio an increasingly dynamic aspect, always changing, in fact, the only ones who are there are me and Laura. We keep college courses at the lab too, but also in other schools, and all of these make very interesting meetings.

ME > How long do young designers stay for who are interested in having an experience in your Lab?

GUM (Gabriel)> 3 to 6 months usually, in some cases,  even more but with a different ratio. 3-6 months is the minimum time to be able to understand, learn, and develop our design process, which is not as fast and simple to acquire. The first month is usually a month of study, after the second and third month you start to work and they then assimilate our creative process. Then they will either make their own or not in their future, but it’s still an experience. Some are established and have already started their path, others who were with us have started working together and this also gives us a sense of satisfaction, because we see that they are motivated to move forward and grow.

ME > Do you have any tips for a young designer emerging who wants to start their own business?

GUM (Gabriel)> Of course, do it!

ME > Take action then!

GUM (Gabriel)> Yes, and never lose heart.

GUM (Laura)> Always believe in yourself; you must always try.

GUM (Gabriel)> Then we also need luck, we want many things, but to believe in it is essential.

ME > To  conclude, summarize Gum Design in three words.

GUM (Laura)> Always made by a dream, a story … and I want to leave one with you.

GUM (Gabriel)> Hugs and kisses.

GUM (Laura)> Four…


Gabriel and Laura have an approach to design that is so fresh, dynamic, and versatile that it is impossible not to want to be involved.
Was I able to inspire  you through this interview?

gum design

I wear the bracelets from “La Casa di Pietra” project by Gum Design

Useful Links:

Gum Design

The “Character Wine Glasses”

The “La Casa di Pietra” project


Art Direction by Giulia Grilli

Photos and Video by LSDP Creative


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