On the occasion of Italdesign’s 35th birthday, Automobile Magazine’s editor-in-chief, Jean Jennings, chats with Fabrizio Giugiaro about his life, his work, and his famous father, Giorgetto.
Automobile Magazine: The world has high expectations for you. How does it feel to be in constant competition with your father?
Fabrizio Giugiaro: I’m doing it a little bit different from my father. He likes just design. I like to design cars and houses. My hobby is to design houses. We designed together the industrial design department.
Our approaches are different. My father is doing everything with an incredible mental discipline. He designs everything you touch—the mirror, all the views that you see. The sketches you see from my father are of everything, every detail.
I do less detail. I don’t like to go so deep. I prefer to work on the model, to have a general idea of the shape. But going so deep… Sometimes it makes him really upset, because you waste a lot of time when you don’t do everything on paper, then you have to invent on the model and then do modifications and cost becomes a problem. Then again, I see that when the car is made, he changes it completely. And sometimes he forgets that! I think that at a certain point in the design of the model, if I’m not sure, I leave it. I wait to see the model. In some ways I’m more open than my father. Sometimes you waste a lot of time changing it later.
In the Alfa Romeo Brera, I have to say he designed everything and we didn’t change anything. Incredible. He made two or three different rear views and we decided which one. The only thing we changed after the sketches was the door. He made a normal door, and we made a different door on the other side. And said, look this is a show car. Let’s do a flashy door. So we changed that and nothing else.
AM: Are you more of an emotional designer?
FG: My father is really an artist. Sometimes I see things on the paper that I don’t understand. Like, one time I was doing the Scighera and I was doing the front headlights in a certain way. My father arrived and said, ‘Why don’t we do it this way?’ And he did this strange line and everyone was puzzled. It was something we had never seen before. Something amazing. My father said, ‘I am not a genius. I’m working everyday on this point with a pencil and in the end it’s logical that we do a different thing, a strange thing. Because you try a thousand different things and sometimes in the end you invent things.’
My father’s approach is like a child’s. It’s difficult to work with him, because he destroys you. You don’t know. You are in a problem and you try, try, try in a certain way. My thoughts are more like a normal guy’s. He is doing things really, really different.
AM: The world expects you to be an artistic genius.
FG: Because I know myself and I know my father, I can say my father is a genius. He doesn’t like to be thought of in this way because he thinks genius’s have ideas like [he snaps his fingers]. He’s working a lot. He works on the paper for hours and hours on one sketch. He says, ‘Look I’m not a genius.’ Of course, he has incredible ideas. I don’t understand where they come from. But father says the most important thing at the end is not to invent, but we have many designers here. Everybody is doing everything. The important thing in the end is to choose the right one. Not to invent, but to choose which is right. My father says I can teach you everything but taste. This is you. But there is maybe one trick. It’s the good quality of the surface and the good balance. To do things you see mathematically. Proportion is number one. Good taste. To invent is good, but you either have good taste or you don’t.
AM: Are there cars you wish you hadn’t made?
FG: Most of the time my father is not satisfied. I’m much more settled than him. But he sees things and says, ‘This is shit’! He was too close to the Brera and was sure no one would understand. There was another car, right before a show, he said, ‘Give me a hammer. I want to break the front!’ Very often, very often.
The Buran, every day. ‘This corner in the rear! Let’s change it!’ My God, it would take a million dollars to change it. The side is fantastic, but the rear.
All prototypes are a problem for him. The only car that he’s never made a comment about it is the Fiat Panda. For him, the Panda is perfect. And the Medusa. But the Medusa is an old car. The Panda goes out of production in June after 25 years.
Born on March 7, 1965, in Turin, Fabrizio Giugiaro specialized in the arts at his first school, the “Liceo Artistico,” and went on to study architecture at the “Politecnico” University of Turin. In 1990, he was appointed to the Italdesign-Giugiaro Board of Directors and, in 1991, took up his first operating role as coordinator of all research vehicles. He didn’t become full-time until the end of 1994, due to a two-year interruption during which he attended the “Unione Industriale di Torino” Business School where he got a Master’s degree in Business Administration. He holds a pilot’s license for both helicopter and light aircraft and enjoys all motorsports. Since joining Italdesign, his list of prototype projects includes the BMW-engined Nazca, the Alfa Romeo Scighera, the Volkswagen Syncro and Roadster, the Structura, Bugatti EB118, the Aston Martin Twenty Twenty, and the Moray.