Andrea Ruggiero, Principal, Andrea Ruggiero Design & Adjunct Prof., Parsons New School For Design; Spark Juror 2012

Who are you, professionally speaking?
I am a New York-based product designer with a multidisciplinary approach; I am also Adjunct Assistant Professor at Parsons, where I teach in the Product Design program.

How did you choose your design discipline?
I was interested in Product Design, but I wasn’t really sure until I studied it. I suppose I have always been interested in objects more than spaces, so it was only natural that I would gravitate towards Product Design.

What are some elements that make your designs distinctive?
I think that’s for others to say, but typically my work is idea-driven: I strive to be inventive and innovative. I am not interested in just designing beautiful objects.

Is your work international, or regionally focused?
My work is internationally oriented, with most of my clients based in Europe or North America. Who I work with is more important than where they are located.

What is your ideal project or commission?
Working with enlightened, environmentally-responsible and design-oriented manufacturers or entrepreneurs.

Who are your top 3 favorite designers?
That’s difficult as many designers have designed great projects, but few have produced a consistently excellent body of work. I would have to say Joe Colombo, Massimo Vignelli, and Josef Hoffman. Colombo was a brilliant designer, a visionary, and a truly innovative designer. Massimo Vignelli — whom I had the fortune of working with — and Josef Hoffmann are both multidisciplinary masters whose work is enduring.

What are you currently reading?
I just finished reading A Time of Gifts, by Patrick Leigh Fermor. A brilliant account of his walking journey through Europe in the late 30’s; fascinating.

What advise can you offer to a new graduate?
I would recommend that you work for others before starting out on your own. Try working in small, mid-sized, and large firms as you will learn much in each of these environments. This is important because in the professional world, you spend a lot of time doing things other than designing. Also, don’t expend your energy on being famous, concentrate instead on excellence in whatever you do: Fame is fleeting and pointless but quality is lasting.

How did you get your first paying design job?
My first real, paying job came out of an internship that I found posted on, when it was still web 1.0

What do you do for inspiration?
Observation is inspiration. This means getting out, going for a walk, traveling somewhere.

What’s the best thing about being a designer?
When you can accomplish the impossible: Delight the user, exceed the client’s expectations, and deliver a beautiful product that is inventive and sustainable.