Swinburne industrial design graduate, Kennyjie Marcellino, recently won the Emerging Designer category at the Alessi Design Awards, judged by the renowned Philippe Starck. His Rotolo shopping bag design was a perfect fit for this year’s brief to design ‘objects on the go’.
Kennyjie was inspired to enter the competition when he met Rebecca Caratti, editor of Vogue Living (a part of the awards) and Anne Sullivan, CEO of Alessi, during their visit to Swinburne to promote the competition in his final semester of study.
“Caratti and Sullivan are two incredible women. I remember sitting at Swinburne that day thinking ‘wow, this is real’. Knowing that they cared really helped ground the competition for me and inspired me to put my mind and heart into it,” says Kennyjie.
Kennyjie with design sketches of his Rotolo Bag, photography by Eleisha Kubale
“Designing, like any creative task, is really an act of being aware. When I deconstructed the brief to design for ‘on the go’, it was obvious that sustainability is very relevant and urgent at the moment. Today people are now willing to make sacrifices just to be more sustainable. It’s going to get even more important going forward with our increasingly mobile and disposable culture,” he says.
Kennyjie said in his entry, “I think there is an urgency for an elegant solution for sustainability, one that replaces sacrifice with joy, delight and beauty”.
The rolled up Rotolo looks like a small ‘tablet’ and easily rolls out to become a bag, images by Kennyjie
“The Alessi brand has always been associated with elegance. I believe this comes from extremely well-executed simplicity. Their products provide childlike clarity and sophisticated solutions to complex problems and that’s what I worked to achieve with Rotolo,” Kennyjie explains.
His first idea didn’t look that different in form to Rotolo but it was more complicated, with a spring mechanism and lots of tiny plastic parts. It was too far away from Alessi’s sophisticated simplicity. He found folding ideas frustrating, then settled on a roll-up idea.
“Maybe I’m just not the smartest human being because I just couldn’t figure out, or find the patience to figure out, how to fold a shopping bag. Most of the solutions for reusable shopping bags on the market involve folding. I thought if the core goal is to create a bag that’s compact for portability, then rolling is a more intuitive gesture to achieve this. We roll our chargers or earphones all the time. This action is just more practical and relatable. This made the design stronger,” he says.
Kennyjie in the studio, photography by Eleisha Kubale
Kennyje worked for months to develop Rotolo, sketching on paper and modelling in the Swinburne workshop.
“The staff at Swinburne were so supportive and accommodating. They gave me enough time and resources to solve a lot of technical manufacturing challenges over the Christmas and New Year period,” says Marcellino.
Kennyjie hopes to eventually travel to Milan to meet Alberto Alessi and discuss how Rotolo might be produced. His plan is to keep creating and bringing to market solutions that solve problems, and tell narratives that inspire. He is now working at Orbitkey, which he says is a first step in the right direction and he’s excited about the future.
Kennyjie feels it’s important to understand the factors surrounding design, that bring good design to life like sustainability, engineering, sales, marketing, and supply chains.
“I’m passionate and curious about materials, technology, sustainability and human psychology. I love exploring new ways to combine those aspects together. My final year project, Quito, is a high-tech mosquito trap that uses natural material like rattan and ceramic, very different to Rotolo,” he explains.
Read more about Quito
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