Mauro Porcini Steps Into the Shoes of the World’s Best Designers

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Mauro Porcini famously has a passion for footwear.

“I’ve always found shoes to be a wonderful way to express myself,” he says. “They give me the ability to be daring; they are elegant, but courageous; they are sophisticated, but fun.”

So when he began pondering the title of his new podcast exploring the transformative power of design through the minds of its practitioners, the title was obvious: In Your Shoes.

The show—backed by PepsiCo, where Porcini serves as chief design officer—debuted in late May with an interview featuring MoMA’s Paola Antonelli. Future guests include Ravi Naidoo, Stefan Sagmeister and others, and episodes are set to be released every two weeks.

A few weeks back, PRINT caught up with Porcini to learn more about the show and what he has in store for its future.

Why a podcast—and why now?

PepsiCo is investing in the world of design with people at the center of all we do. Design is all about people. A podcast gives us the opportunity to explore the minds of people whose creativity, intellect and vision are inspiring and shaping the future. With curiosity, we put ourselves “in their shoes” and we are excited to share the things we learn. This podcast is a way to inspire our organization across disciplines, and of course, anybody willing to listen. And while we didn’t anticipate that we’d be releasing this podcast in the midst of a global pandemic, we are living in a time where creativity, design and innovation are more important than ever.

What do you feel is missing from the current design podcast landscape?

There are so many great design podcasts out there—we even feature the host of one of my favorites on the show: Debbie Millman of Design Matters. As someone who works for a design-led company and oversees a team of incredibly talented designers, I know the value that creative thinking can bring to any organization. But, to have a multinational corporation produce a podcast and enter into the design communication arena—with a point of view and a voice—is a new and wonderful endorsement for the world of design. My hope is that this podcast will help other designers build a creative culture in their own organizations.

Are you going to record in a fixed location, or visit the homes/studios of your subjects?

We filmed the initial six episodes in our PepsiCo Design Studio in Manhattan. We’ll be recording episodes virtually for the foreseeable future, which could be a great opportunity to get an intimate experience with our future guests in their homes and studios.

What do you hope to achieve with the show, in a broad sense?

By representing the corporate design perspective in conversations with individual, phenomenal thinkers, we hope to share the potential of creative thinking as a driver to reshape companies, communities, societies and more. I hope to inspire our listeners to get up, go out and change the world.

What have you learned from your guests so far?

I believe that the innovators of our world are people with an extremely high dose of curiosity, empathy, resilience and optimism, with an ability to think big, act fast and have fun. Each interview is a story in multiple dimensions—full of color, anecdotes and life. Each interview has inspired me in so many different ways. I stepped out of that studio each and every time as a better designer.

What are some of your favorite podcasts?

In the world of design, The Design of Business | The Business of Design and Design Matters.

Who is your dream guest for the podcast, living or dead?Leonardo Da Vinci, the design thinker by excellence.

You seek to explore the vision, values and experiences that drive your guests’ work. What vision and values drive yours?I am driven by generating value for the world. I am driven by understanding people, their needs and their wants, and crafting solutions that are meaningful and relevant to them. I am driven by creating products, brands, experiences and services that aim to be as sustainable as possible from an aesthetic, environmental, emotional, social, intellectual and financial standpoint. Each project that I run is a fragment of a broader meta-project: moving the world towards a better status. If each of us creatives of the world is driven by the same purpose, in every project, every day, then we will have the incredible opportunity of imagining, designing and producing a better world.

How have you kept your creativity alive during the pandemic?

Through my insatiable curiosity. Inspiration and creativity come from within. Even if we can’t physically fly around the world and meet people, we can still emotionally fly with our imagination, and we can still meet people virtually, through the multiple digital platforms we have access to. In this world of physical distance, human beings are closer than ever, and through that proximity we are inspiring each other. To benefit from this time we need to keep our minds, our hearts and our souls wide open, ready to receive, ready to grow, ready to fly.