Valeria Zerbo

Specialized in Accessory Design.

Valeria Zerbo

About Valeria Zerbo

Valeria is an architect who worked for award winning practices in Venice and London with a passion for design. She is the founder of the start up Pinapple New York that put all of her heart and countless hours of design time into helping women carry functional bags in a fashionable way.

  • Winner of the A' Design Award.
  • Specialized in Accessory Design.
  • Original Design.
  • Creative, Diligent and Innovative.
  • All Designs
  • Accessory
BLunch Lunchbag

BLunch Lunchbag

Accessory Design

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Interview with Valeria Zerbo

Could you please tell us more about your art and design background? What made you become an artist/designer? Have you always wanted to be a designer?
When I was attending high school, I was very focused on design and I loved the city of Venice so I went to the University of Architecture in Venice. I have always loved to sketch and I really enjoy all of the creative, artistic, and technical aspects of designing.
Can you tell us more about your company / design studio?
Pinapple New York put all her heart and countless design time into helping women carry functional bags in a fashionable way. It was founded in New York and went online in September 2019. BLunch is just the very first collection of bags produced in Italy and blending leather with a high performance and very durable Italian fabric. Just few words for the name choice as many may get confused with pineapple. The name Pinapple merges the words Pinup and Apple. This name strucked me as it is notorious that New York is the Big Apple hence the use of apple and pin or pinup because with its different meanings was blending great!
What is "design" for you?
Design is a form of art expression that allows to create an item which is functional to everyday specific needs and also visually attracting.
What kinds of works do you like designing most?
I like designing bags, BLunch is my very first bag for production.
What is your most favorite design, could you please tell more about it?
BLunch reached the production stage for its versatility. Cleverly organized, it is a dual compartment bag in one to help all women who fit a lot in their day: commute, lunch plus late events.
What was the first thing you designed for a company?
BLunch is really my first design and its production signaled the birth of Pinapple New York.
What is your favorite material / platform / technology?
The materials used for BLunch have been selected very carefully at the very beginning of the design process and the combination of fabric and leather, in particular, represents the essential nature of all bags from Pinapple New York.
What kind of emotions do you feel when you design?
I need to be very concentrated when I am sketching an idea and I do not like to be disturbed. I also feel the necessity of drawing it on a piece of paper. When I see that the design works, I am very pleased.
What makes a design successful?
Quality, materials, attractiveness, multiple purpose functionality.
When judging a design as good or bad, which aspects do you consider first?
The idea behind needs to be very clear, it is not just about attractiveness.
From your point of view, what are the responsibilities of a designer for society and environment?
The designer needs to consider, since the beginning of the design process, sustainability issues. I feel of the utmost importance the respect of ethical aspects involved with the production inside factories.
How do you think the "design field" is evolving? What is the future of design?
I think we will see the use of high quality sustainable materials and, beyond function and aesthetic aspects, we will see the integration of technology to value the customer experience.
Where does the design inspiration for your works come from? How do you feed your creativity? What are your sources of inspirations?
I usually start from everyday needs that I experience myself. I realized that inspiration comes from the different lifestyles I find in different cities. New York, in particular, has inspired BLunch. I then merged it with the memories from Italy where I was born.
How would you describe your design style? What made you explore more this style and what are the main characteristics of your style? What's your approach to design?
I am also an architect and I made mine, or at least I try, one of Leonardo Da Vinci quotes “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication” and from Mies van Der Rohe “God is in the details”.
Where do you live? Do you feel the cultural heritage of your country affects your designs? What are the pros and cons during designing as a result of living in your country?
I was born and educated in Italy and I have lived for a long time in London. From Europe I learnt the importance of our heritage and my studies really focused on the beauty of the Rinascimento in Italy. It was New York, though, that inspired my passion for the fashion design that led me to develop BLunch. So, yes, I think this Bronze Award is the result of living in New York!
How do you work with companies?
I worked for a long time as architect in award winning practices and I think the relationship you build with other members is very important.
What are your suggestions to companies for working with a designer? How can companies select a good designer?
I think that the portfolio speaks more than a thousand words. I also think that all aspects of the design process up to production are important and, as they entail different skills, it is important to valuate management and interpersonal abilities.
Can you talk a little about your design process?
As I love sketching, I carry a little black notebook with me all the time and I take notes on it whenever I am attracted by some details. I then developed the idea with sketches and I research other examples, this can be about colors, materials and more technical areas. The mood boards get enriched with all different options but usually it is just one in particular that is explored in detail.
What are 5 of your favorite design items at home?
Some of my favorite design items are Saarinen side table, Bertoia chair from Knoll and the Flos Arco lamp. I also love kitchens and cutlery pieces.
Can you describe a day in your life?
Just after waking up I have my breakfast, brioche and cappuccino with my family, then school run with my kids. I reach my office to do all my business tasks and whatever needs to get done. I usually try to have a morning each week for researching so I can collect all my ideas for design.
Could you please share some pearls of wisdom for young designers? What are your suggestions to young, up and coming designers?
I think it is extremely important to establish good relationships with people working on each stage of the design and production process.
From your perspective, what would you say are some positives and negatives of being a designer?
Production stage is very rewarding as you can see your idea coming to life, I think managing costs associated with some design choices can be frustrating sometimes.
What is your "golden rule" in design?
I come from the architectural background and I enjoy designing things to help people. When I moved to NY, I found another way to help people, in particular women on the go.
What skills are most important for a designer?
I think creativity, empathy, awareness. You need to able to make the best use of people criticism.
Which tools do you use during design? What is inside your toolbox? Such as software, application, hardware, books, sources of inspiration etc.?
Hand sketching is the very first part of the design process so I keep my desk very tidy to reach all my pencils and paper easily. I also have a good collection of books that also look great in my studio. I then use CAD, Photoshop, Indesign a lot to develop organized drawings.
Designing can sometimes be a really time consuming task, how do you manage your time?
I set goals for myself. When I see that I am not reaching a good result I usually do not waste time on it, unless I get a fresher idea at a second time.
How long does it take to design an object from beginning to end?
The design of Lunch is my first one taken to production and it took more than one year. Starting from my sketches and choice of materials, I had to learn about prototyping, sourcing, costing, production. The choice of the factory has been particularly challenging as I knew I needed not just a person who could produce it but a partner who could understand the mission behind it.
What was your most important job experience?
I worked for many years as an architect for award winning practices and learning managing skills have been very useful.
What type of design work do you enjoy the most and why?
I enjoy designing bags for the moment, I start from everyday life needs and I like to think that I can help people feel better.
What are your future plans? What is next for you?
Hopefully my BLunch takes off and I can add more products to the line.

Extended Interview with Valeria Zerbo

Could you please tell us about your experience as a designer, artist, architect or creator?
I am an experienced architect who has worked for award winning practices in London and Venice with an inherent passion for design, architecture and interior design. While still working as an architect, I am using my design skills to develop new bags for PINAPPLE NEW YORK. No matter which scale I am working in, the attention to detail, the understanding of proportions and the critical approach to quality is the same.
How did you become a designer?
I decided to dedicate my time to the design of bags after moving from London to New York. I believe that designing bags enables me to help people on a different scale, while as an architect I was using my skills to provide well designed areas where people could thrive, with the design of functional bags I am actually helping women when they are at work or during commute with an item that is designed on purpose for that experience.
What are your priorities, technique and style when designing?
Definitely I chose it. It was a natural progression from my studies first and then I realized that I was enjoying very much the creative and also technical part of the design process.
Which emotions do you feel when designing?
Currently I am focusing on bag design and at the same time developing my startup that I founded since the launch of BLunch. It is very challenging but also very rewarding.
What particular aspects of your background shaped you as a designer?
“Design legend” is a little intimidating as I feel I am still very fresh to this world but I take it as a reason to keep working even harder than before. Hard working is the essential skill in general for all industries. In particular a young designer needs to focus on the experience people have of the item. A designer has to define since the beginning what type of experience, emotions people feel when using the product, this drives all projects choices, colors, materials, details.
What is your growth path? What are your future plans? What is your dream design project?
A great designer makes his items unforgettable and they stand out for different reasons, a particular detail, a distinctive color, a particular emotion or a particular combination of textures and materials as examples.
What are your advices to designers who are at the beginning of their career?
A really good design is always a combination of aesthetic, function and successful experience by people using it. When a designer is able to find a sensible balance of these three aspects, I think we can speak about really good design.
You are truly successful as a designer, what do you suggest to fellow designers, artists and architects?
I love the idea that I can help people by designing great neighborhoods or by designing an item that can solve specific issues we experience every day. Good design lets people have a better experience of everyday life and for this reason has a great impact on society and environment as well. I believe that all designers need to consider sustainability issues for the impact the production process may have on the environment and in particular I am sensitive to ethical aspects that need to be considered inside factories.
How do you know if a product or project is well designed? How do you define good design?
From my experience of designing BLunch I can easily say that this was made possible thanks to people that believed in me and also offered to help with their outstanding craftmanship in the factory.
Would you tell us more about your work culture and business philosophy?
My mum run a store that she inherited from her dad in the little city where I was born, I possibly would have helped her.
What are your philanthropic contributions to society as a designer, artist and architect?
Design is a form of art expression that comes with the ability to create a piece which is functional to everyday specific needs and also visually attracting. Its success depends on the experience people may have with it.
What positive experiences you had when you attend the A’ Design Award?
I admit that I am persistent. As I have worked as an architect before deciding to start this experience, people were a little skeptical. I think the change happened when I found a factory willing to help me and understanding the mission of the project behind it. I need to say thank you to the owner of the factory in Italy who believed in me.

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