Interview with Patrick Abbattista, from DesignWanted

04/07/2018 | Digital


Under the July sunshine, the #SMDAYITONTHEROAD starts again! This week, we stop in Milan to meet Patrick Abbattista, CEO of DesignWanted, our media partner for the next edition of Mashable Social Media Day Italy!

Today Design Wanted is a platform with a community of over 300 thousand followers. Let's take a step back in time, how did the idea come about and what were the first steps you took to make it happen?

I came to Design totally by accident. In 2008 I re-met a childhood friend who I was in kindergarten with and hadn't seen in about 20 years. He told me about his design blog, I fell in love with it and decided to help him out on the marketing side, which was then my background.

After 7 years, I decided to start from scratch - October 2015 - leaving the project to him and reinventing myself with a new reality: DesignWanted.

Unlike the first initiative, which focused on design project selection, DesignWanted combined my fledgling passion for design with my marketing skills. The basic idea was and is to support designers on what they are least skilled in: the marketing and business aspects.

What are the main difficulties you faced in growing the platform?

Given that leaving the previous project I took a partial leap of faith, the very first concern I had was to rebuild the community I had previously and the network of international collaborations I had built up over 7 years.

In the beginning, besides my name and the new brand, I couldn't count on much else. I was looking for leverage that could bring me back to the attention of the design industry bigwigs.

How much needs to be invested in terms of resources and energy to create a successful platform?

From a monetary point of view, I did not invest much. With about a thousand euros, I managed to build a community that now has over 400 thousand people. I applied what they call growth hacking techniques in Instagram's prime.

Skills side, on the other hand, I spent entire nights studying, while the day was dedicated to practice. Courses upon courses, tests upon tests, to turn Instagram into that leverage I was looking for, discovered thanks to a friend, Stefano Mongardi.

I was at home with a broken knee, bedridden. I took his course, was convinced, and decided to go from there.

I could not afford to make a mistake, so I devoted my heart and soul and cultivate both the channel and the community. I had to catch up with what I had left behind.

Who is behind DesignWanted? Introduce us to your team!

In addition to myself, there is one person who is fundamental to all the projects I have done so far, so not only DesignWanted: Giovanni De Carlo, co-founder, who follows all the technological aspects.

John, in addition to being a developer, is a formidable problem solver. It is thanks to him that we have managed over time to evolve the platform and respond to the needs of our target market, while remaining lean and scalable. Our philosophy, which is then typical of designers, is 'keep it simple'.

Which three Italian designers/creatives do you think stand out for their marketing and communication strategy?

I have to be honest. When I think about young people, I don't see a lot of dynamism on the communication front. This is, in part, because of what I was saying earlier that prompted me to create DesignWanted. Designers are very good at...designing, but they often forget the other aspects, the ones that would put them in the spotlight.

Having said that, I would like to mention a company, rather than an individual, namely LAGO, which, in my opinion, is among the best on the Italian scene at leveraging the digital side of communication.

Another example is a designer/creative designer who is actually more of a manager: he is Mauro Porcini, currently head of Design at PepsiCo. I like him both for the boost Pepsi has given since he has been in his role, between design and experience design, and for the kind of personal communication he does. Able to communicate the mood, the creative stylethat characterizes him.

The last one I mention is Virginia Di Giorgio, Sicilian and author of the brand Virgola, which I find splendid in its creativity and consistency, as I have been following it for several years. Thanks to the beauty of her work, she now has a following of 130 thousand people on Instagram alone, and she sells her creations and collaborations worldwide (

What motivated you to become a media partner of an event like Mashable?

To date, it represents the most important event in the Italian digital world. It brings together different realities, gives space to very interesting case histories and is a prestigious stage. In Italy, we hear a lot of talk about Digital, but very few deal with the subject in a serious and effective way. I met Eleonora Rocca and the passion she puts into this project convinced me to be part of it.

DesignWanted is a channel about Design. But in a broad sense, it's a digital marketing project rooted in an event like Mashable. I thought it made sense to be part of it for that reason as well.

A special space will be dedicated to bloggers and influencers at the next edition of #SMDAYIT + #DIDAYS. How useful can it be for a creative/designer/architect to collaborate with influencers to make their business known? 

I think it is essential, and not only because the Influencer generates visibility, but mainly because it qualifies the work of the designer or company. If the Influencer is credible, and this is also measured by the collaborations he or she has under his or her belt, then it is essential that he or she is part of the communication strategies of any business, whether it is micro or a multinational.

I see it daily on Instagram. I collaborate with pages of over 1 million followers. In total, we are an Instagrammer group of over 13 million aggregate followers. We almost all know each other. When one of us posts a project, it is very easy for others to pick it up on their own pages. Clearly, if the idea is good. You can't work miracles J

Designers and creatives, more generally, should take advantage of the tremendous opportunities offered by spaces like Instagram. A valuable idea can change the author's fortunes in a matter of very few months. In some cases, weeks. When they work and like it, it takes a moment to go viral.

Lastly, an Influencer has his finger on the pulse of the situation in his target niche. If established, he or she instinctively knows the sentiment of his or her community, knows how to direct the company to the content that works best, helps it turn them into catalysts of attention and leads. Without ever losing sight of the data, that is.

To give you an example, I am often in contact with Sarah Wayne Callies,Hollywood actress (co-star of Prison Break and others), who from time to time asks me about published projects. In several situations, I have pointed her to designers or companies in line with her tastes. And I am more likely to point to realities that I already know and collaborate with, for the simple reason that their name is already in my head.

What future do you dream for DesignWanted?

A one-stop shop for those in the design business. A must for understanding how to structure a design business and how to grow it, to learn from those who have already done it. An indispensable source of resources and opportunities for anyone in this field.

I want it to become an ecosystem that can actively support both designers and companies, on an international scale, creating mutual opportunities.

My ambition is that even the designer who lives in the most remote corner of this planet should have the same opportunities to express his or her talent as one who lives in Milan, London or New York. I believe in talent no matter what. And the thing that fascinates me most is the social impact that good Design has. It is not self-referential, but it actually improves people's lives.

To conclude: is there any question you never get asked that you would like to answer?

Eheh I usually surround myself with people who ask me everything or make even uncomfortable observations. I love the confrontation.

However, should I find one before the event, I promise I'll do it right there, a bit Marzullo-like, come on.

Thanks, see you in Milan!

Ilenia Dalmasso


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