SOPHIA BERNINI

First question- why are Italian cars better than American?

Firstly, How do you like being in Paris?

Ahh, I see you’re starting off strong. Italian cars are nothing short of works of art when it comes to design. There’s a certain kind of natural beauty that comes to designing cars with the Italian flair…American cars always look nice, but there’s so much more to it than that, you know? Being able to think ahead and see what kind of innovations would most benefit the car and the driver…there’s something very beautiful to it.

What was the first car that drew you to the business?

I would say a 330 1965 GT Ferrari. People seem shocked when I tell them that since this car is not very well-received by enthusiasts. I never hold that against them though. If anything, I sympathize with them. The car is not as refined as others bearing the Ferrari name…but there’s a nostalgic charm to it that reminds me of my youth. I’ve always wanted one of these cars. [laughs] My love for these beautiful machines goes back even further, though.

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JESPIONNE

Around when, if you don’t mind me asking?

Oh, even farther back, when I was a little girl. Nothing made me feel more at ease than taking long drives with my father. I was a very nervous child, you see, and the feeling of being in a car flying along the road and getting lost in whatever was on the radio…it just relaxed me. My father would see me starting to feel anxious, and would enact his perfect remedy for me and tell me to hop in. The place we lived in was surrounded by gorgeous sights, so the paths we took were never dull. I have so many fond memories of being in one of these beautiful machines…and honestly? I’d argue and say that most of us do, but a lot of people take it for granted.

It says here that you worked with Pininfarina. When you first started, what did you expect?

Maybe it’s silly to word this way, but I expected not to know as much as everyone else there, and I was so correct. Working with people who share my passion has allowed me to learn so much and hone my design skills even further. There’s a balance that comes with design, a study to see how to stay the most relevant and work towards future innovation, and I try to do that while also not, how do you say, compromising the beautiful style of each car. I want to preserve the classic touch Italian auto is known for.

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Do you try and follow that idea for other areas of design?

It depends on the area of design, I’d say. For my students over at Marangoni I tell them you need to be willing to be flexible based on what is around you and how fast things change, but sometimes, it’s the designer themselves who has to be the force of that change. That is okay. I guess that’s where the idea that design is a selfish path to take comes from, but it’s okay if you ask me.


Do you consider design something selfish?

There’s no way around that, honestly. Through selfishness in design, you can force yourself to go all kinds of places you would never have gone before.

How did you feel about your time at Bocconi?

It taught me a lot, but honestly, I feel like where I now have ultimately lead to the most positive change in my life. Teaching and doing the kinds of design I’m doing now has given me an insight I’ve never had before. Don’t get me wrong though…Bocconi was definitely a stepping stone for me, though.

What separates Italy from the rest?

I am very proud of where I am from. The country itself houses a kind of beauty that bleeds into and lives in the work of the Italian people. We have some of the best of the best when it comes to food, fashion, design…and despite the unique flavor we all strive for, things manage to stay contemporary and fresh. I want to live and die here.

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Did you get into cycling at a young age?

Honestly, I think it would have been far stranger had I not gotten into cycling at such a young age, you know? Some of my earliest memories are of me being hunched in front of that television, eyes peeled on the Tour de France. There’s an Italian dream of wandering around, and my parents must have known I was no different. They bought me a bike shortly after I started grade school and everything just clicked from there. I wore the hell out of that horn, enjoying a kind of unique power that came from cycling. I loved flying past all of those quaint little shops and enjoyed exploring to see what kind of routes to take and which were the hardest. I never meant for it to happen, but through my childhood and where I came from, I accidentally became incredibly good at cycling. Something tells me there’s others all over the world who can relate. [laughs]

Did you ever think you would become part of Tour De France?

Hell no! When I was younger, I would put on some false bravado and brag that I could just to see how jealous I could make my peers around me. Maybe I joked too much back then, and my own full ego as a little girl signed some pact that eventually brought me to that point when I was older. You never really know where an inflated ego and some jokes as a child could take you in your future…despite my nervousness that could cripple me if I was not careful, the competitiveness that came along with cycling outweighed it by a huge margin. Practicing cycling was such a good way to help channel that, as well as give me a way to hone my competitive streak and relieve any kind of nervousness I might have. Now that I have to travel so much, it’s a lot harder to practice cycling…but the thrill of finding all kinds of new paths is too good to pass up. I find time to make it all work.

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So, bikes or cars?

Ha! Don’t make me choose. Guess it depends on the where and the destination since each has their own benefits. Bikes are obviously better for the environment cars also have their own place in the future, and are like works of art all their own. I cannot say if I have more bikes or cars at this point if that gives you any idea of how torn I really am.


What’s the one car you wouldn’t be caught dead driving?

Any Chevy. I can’t understand those brutish things. Smart cars, too. Ugly little things, aren’t they? The size is kind of funny though like a clown car…can’t say I’ve been in one yet.

What do you find the major problem in the world of cars today?

When you start to place emphasis on business, you start losing a lot of the heart and artistic integrity of the vehicle, and that makes me sad. There is such a battle between commerciality and artistic integrity in the auto industry when it comes to the bottom line. Does that really matter, though? Yes…and no. I want to combine the methodology to produce reliable cars cheaply, but I also want to keep the beauty of the design intact.


How do you plan to do so?

I want people to feel like such beautiful cars are within their reach, even if they are not the richest of the rich. It’s very hard, though. Despite my love for it and all its successes, I feel like the industry failed in this way.

What are some things you want to tackle next?

There are so many things I would love to take part in and master. The idea of being an elegant, amazing chef is so appealing to me, and my background definitely has me well-prepared for that. Does not really help that I love wine. You see people, famous actors and actresses, and even everyday citizens all trying to fight for their share of the pie, and culinary arts has become such a huge industry. It would be foolish and close-minded to say that such popularity worsens the industry though since everyone has their own unique skills to bring to the table. It really makes me wonder if I could do something like that. A lot of people don’t see it as such, because the results are only as temporary as the audience’s appetite, but cuisine is an art form too. And like all other kinds of art, we need to let all kinds of people from all walks of life to create their own works. You never know how something humble can turn into something great.

Twould be foolish and close-minded to say that such popularity worsens the industry though, since everyone has there own unique skills to bring to the table.

LIVE FEED

PHOTOS

Autohaus / Wayne Baker / Alamy / Getty Images / Viale Bligny / Pixabay / Alex Whitehead / Mercedes-Benz Photography / Pininfarina SPA / Mr. Jean-Philippe Charbonnier / Gamma-Rapho / Ferrari Photography / Charles Orrico / Lothar Wolleh


TAGS

Gardena Pass / Lake Garda / Bocconi University / City Bicycle / Prades, Haute-Loire / Tour de France / Mercedes-Benz Electric Car / Smart Car / Bicycle Racing / Sophia Loren / Lucio Fontana / Battista Farina / Enzo Ferrari / Adolf Hitler / Benito Mussolini / Mario Batali / Amalfi Coast / Italy

February 12 th, 2018

INTERVIEWS