“Mauro loves the first product he designed for 3M. When he joined the company in 2002, it had plenty of industrial designers but no one like the then 26-year-old prodigio who had made his bones creating goods at Philips and with his own online design outfit. Antonio Pinna Berchet, 3M’s head of corporate marketing in Milan, was eager to make its office wares stand out. The company was relying on functional excellence, but Italian consumers value aesthetics. “We wanted to create more impulse buying with more attractive products,” Berchet says. His long-term goal was “more institutional. My thinking was design would be part of research and development.”
After just a few months at 3M, Mauro showed the brass that he was bilingual in more than one sense: He can talk business as well as design. (Six Sigma has never sounded so sexy as when Mauro riffs about his love for process.) He convinced the projector team in Austin to let him compete for a redesign that was already under way. He tapped his Milan network and brought in Pininfarina, the Italian firm renowned for its work with Ferrari and Maserati. Mauro’s group made the overhead projector striking, with the sleek, inviting lines of a luxury car. “Always our projectors have been very industrial and very standard,” says Berchet. “This was absolutely new.”
“You wanted to touch it,” says Mauro.
What got the attention of pragmatists throughout 3M was the bottom line: Sales doubled. The S10 Multimedia Projector showed what design could do for business.”