Featured Designer

Cecilia Melli

March 2019

We chat with Art Director, Brand Strategy Consultant & University professor Cecilia Melli about her fave books, podcasts & blogs — which includes “The Dissection” high up on the list — and we deep dive into some stats from the World Economic Forum, such as the 'Top 10 rising skills' which include complex problem solving, critical thinking and creativity.

Where did you study and what were some of your first jobs?

I studied “Graphic Design” at “Facoltà del Design” of Politecnico di Milano. The Master’s Degree included an internship as condition to complete the degree, so that was my very first work experience. Since I was totally in love with magazine design (as I’m still now: I’m a true paper lover), I applied for doing my internship at Urban Magazine. At that time, it was one of the coolest publication in town and couldn’t have asked for a better start for my worki experience.

Did you have a plan for graduation and what actually happened?

Sure I did! I had few friends living in Los Angeles at that time, and I was dreaming to go and visit them. Crossing the Ocean. Exploring a new big, huge, city. Having my very first “americana” experience. Since I planned to go to L.A. after graduation, I had a clear goal to achieve as soon as possible. And I did it: I wrote my thesis in three months, working hard day and night, seven days a week. And then it worked out perfectly: I got the highest grade and flew to L.A. the week after!

How did you name your practice and what does the name represent to you?

Back in the day when I decided to start working “solo”, I did a few brainstorming sessions with friends and professionals that I truly admire. And in the end, we came up with the simplest option on the table: just title my business with my own name.

I always introduce my self as Cecilia Melli, an independent Art Director working as a consultant. As the next step in my career, I’m now dreaming about launching my own studio.

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You don’t need to define your Job Title the moment you step out the University.

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What are your three must-read design books/blogs/podcasts and why?

I have plenty of magazines, books, catalogues in my place. Honestly, I don’t have a top list… But talking about design books, I can say that my latest crush is about this one: “Typodarium 2019”, a calendar that serves as font book and typo trend radar. It’s a brilliant idea and also an inspiring book. While talking about podcasts, on the top of the list I have “The Dissection” a collection of stories of designers and their creative processes. Then basically any podcast from "New York Times", from the ones about news and politics to those about music or random topics inspired by daily-life as “Still Processing”.

What advice would you give students graduating in 2019?

Here my pieces of random advice!

Being as creative as possible and always open-minded.

Never give up and always give it a try.

Experiment a lot with your profession to find your own path. You don’t need to define your Job Title the moment you step out the University.

And, very last one: keep on studying and researching. You will always find new sources of inspiration reading books, meeting people, listening to stories, attending events.

Where do you think design is heading in the next five years and how will you adapt?

According to the “World Economic Forum” when talking about “The Future of Jobs”, by 2020 “over one-third of skills (35%) that are considered important in today’s workforce will have changed”.

Along with my job as Art Director, I also teach in a couple of Universities in Milan. I always mention this report to my students, inviting them to embrace the change brought by the Fourth Industrial Revolution with no fear but flexibility! And if you check out the “Top 10 Skills” that WEF is listing as rising by the 2020, on top of the list you will see the following ones: complex problem solving, critical thinking and creativity. It seems to me that they are basically talking about our own profession. Being a designer is a lot about being flexible and always switching weaknesses into opportunities of design or re-design.

Website: ceciliamelli.com

Instagram: @ceciliamelli

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