Elena Marengoni is a Design Researcher at Frog and she is collaborating with us since 2015. Let’s find out a little bit more about her!

1 – How did you know about PACO and why did you decide to participate on the first design collaborative?

I found out about PACO when I was still a student. One of the founders of PACO, Fabrizio Pierandrei, was my professor at the time. I asked him to mentor me during my graduation project. I knew I wanted to do something in the field of ‘service design for children’ and I knew he was expert about it: when I explained my idea to him, he told me about PACO, the first design collaborative. I immediately liked the idea that, at PACO, people get together to develop projects that spawn from their own passions and interests and once, the engine starts running, it is up to them to find ways to make things real. I liked PACO’s truly collaborative approach and supportive environment and the fact that PACOers are driven by the idea that what we do as designers and the way we use our critical thinking can have a tangible impact on people’s lives. These reasons and many more positive aspects of being a PACOer made me decide to join the collaborative.


2 – In your opinion, what is social innovation and why is it important?

I think of social innovation as a way of expressing one’s creativity or critical thinking for the common good, taking into account something much broader than the needs of an individual person or organisation. I see it as an enlightened form of design that aims at transforming the society as a whole and gives us a chance to build partnerships beyond the design community to generate more social impact.


3 – When did you decide that you wanted to be who you are now?

I am most likely still in the process of defining who I am, but I would for sure say that the last 2 years of university significantly contributed to determining what I do today. It was especially by immersing myself in different cultural contexts and professional environments and by spending my time with a truly diverse community that I discovered how much I enjoy doing research and mixing my competencies to many others. Also, these different experiences helped me to develop a deeper understanding of the word ‘design’ and this is what still helps me to transform and evolve the way I am.


4 – Could you describe one of your typical working day?

My working schedule is quite dynamic and unpredictable at times, which is one of the things I like about my professional life because it can never get boring! Most of my time is spent working as a design researcher at frog. A ‘typical’ (or should I say atypical?) working day can involve desk work, but I’m very often out in the field doing research or collaborating with clients. In parallel, I manage my collaboration with PACO, especially focusing on projects dedicated to children and I occasionally lecture at a couple universities. The remaining time (yes, there is some spare time in between all of these things!) is dedicated to friends and family and to my other two great passions, reading and illustrating!


5 – If you could have two superpowers, what would they be and why?

If I could acquire two superpowers, I would like to develop a sense of empathy so deep that I could almost read people’s mind. I think it could help me a lot during interviews but also while collaborating with others. Also, I would like to be a super-maker, meaning being able to easily transform raw materials into prototypes that represent my ideas.


PACOER: Elena Marengoni