Jazz­ing up Fer­rari de­sign


This is not his an­swer to a women’s mag­a­zine-style ques­tion (“What in­spires you dahh­ling, what’s your muse?”) but a re­sponse to the fact that he cites mu­sic as an in­te­gral part of his de­sign phi­los­o­phy.

As in­spired as he is by sculp­ture, art and ar­chi­tec­ture in his work – which in­cludes La Fer­rari, the 488 GTB, the FXXK and the GTC4 Lusso he un­veiled while in Syd­ney – Manzoni is equally moved by mu­sic.

Indeed, he reg­u­larly in­vites mu­si­cians to visit the Fer­rari De­sign Stu­dio, which he per­son­ally es­tab­lished in 2010, to play live for his team of more than 70 beau­ti­fully dressed Ital­ians.

“We re­cently had Ce­sare Picco – a fa­mous pi­anist, es­pe­cially in Ja­pan – come in and we in­vited him to teach us how to cre­ate in real time, start­ing from a lit­tle idea and ex­plor­ing the way to evolve it and trans­form it,” ex­plains Manzoni, a keen pi­anist him­self.

“This is what we ac­tu­ally do with cars; when we start the pro­ject, have an in­tu­ition about a par­tic­u­larly artis­tic so­lu­tion to an engi­neer­ing prob­lem. Then the ques­tion is how to ap­ply it to the car, in an artis­tic way.

“It’s a kind of dis­ci­pline, mu­sic. When I play the pi­ano I try to cre­ate a nat­u­ral con­nec­tion be­tween my soul and the in­stru­ment. It’s not easy; you have to find the per­fect state of mind to do that.

“Mu­sic rep­re­sents the most in­stant way to trans­fer your vi­sions, your feel­ings, into a creative object. The re­la­tion­ship be­tween man and ma­chine – the pi­ano and the pi­anist – is not so far away from the re­la­tion­ship be­tween a driver and a sporty car like a Fer­rari. There is a sim­i­lar sym­bio­sis be­tween the two.”

And the mu­sic that most in­spires Manzoni and his team is the fid­dly, tricky and seem­ingly un­struc­tured world of jazz.

You can’t imag­ine a Ger­man car com­pany us­ing any­thing but Wag­ner’s Ride of the Valkyrie (aka the he­li­copter mu­sic from Apoca­lypse Now) or the Kore­ans any­thing but god-aw­ful K-pop. Indeed, Manzoni re­cently gave a copy of a book about jazz – “Har­monic Dis­or­der it’s called; even the name is so beau­ti­ful” – to each of his staff.

“Jazz re­lates to the way our team works,” he en­thuses, his foot tap­ping in his ex­pen­sive Ital­ian shoe.

“It’s beau­ti­ful how, in a jam ses­sion, all of the mu­si­cians in­ter­play and they play around a theme, a har­monic struc­ture, and the in­ter­pre­ta­tion of each one can be com­pletely dif­fer­ent. Even if one mu­si­cian makes a mis­take, it’s no prob­lem be­cause this can just lead some­one else to go off in a dif­fer­ent di­rec­tion and rein­ter­pret the piece in a whole new way.

“There is a fan­tas­tic sim­i­lar­ity with the way we work. We, the de­sign team, are a fam­ily that share the same pas­sions, and when we start a pro­ject there is a struc­ture and ev­ery­body can ex­press his idea, his way to in­ter­pret it, and the fi­nal re­sult is a team re­sult.”

Manzoni, of course, has plenty of free­dom to be chaotic and crazy – look at La Fer­rari, for ex­am­ple – be­cause of the com­pany, and the coun­try, he works in.

But he de­spairs at the lack of courage shown by his com­peti­tors, par­tic­u­larly those lean­ing heav­ily on retro styling or what he calls the “Rus­sian-doll ap­proach” to de­sign.

“You know the ones, it’s just like look­ing at dif­fer­ent sizes of the same thing,” he frowns. “I don’t per­son­ally like this.

“It’s a prob­lem of the car in­dus­try glob­ally. Peo­ple end up think­ing that the con­sis­tency of a brand comes from the rep­e­ti­tion of the same el­e­ments, but I don’t think so. For me it’s the wrong ap­proach. It’s not a creative ap­proach.”

Nor is reach­ing for retro, he be­lieves, dis­miss­ing it as “an ef­fec­tive way to com­pen­sate for a loss of im­age”.

“It’s too easy, and it rep­re­sents a de­crease in the risk fac­tor. This is a very dan­ger­ous thing. It’s a part of science; if you don’t risk, you don’t in­vent any­thing.

“The prob­lem is the rip­ple ef­fects, be­cause there are now so many ex­am­ples of retro. So many air in­takes and grilles now are fake, but this is not de­sign, this is styling. It’s a to­tally dif­fer­ent ques­tion.”

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