How does a genius build a Monster?
As I turn onto the freeway in my Ducati Monster I can’t help but think that even after eleven years and thousands and thousands of miles my ride is still perfect. I hit the gas and pass a couple of cars as the road flows fast under my wheels. The man who invented my ride, Miguel Galluzzi, is a genius and I’ve always wondered what he’s like. I’ve wanted to meet him since the first time I turned on my Ducati and finally, after eleven years, I have the chance: he recently moved in Pasadena, California.
I stop by Miguel’s place and find him standing on the patio. He has an energetic handshake and says “c’mon in!” in a warm voice as leads me to his studio.
Miguel, give us your definition of design…
Well, design doesn’t mean anything to me! I mean, design isn’t just about products, it’s something born into us.
So, how would you define yourself?
I am a design-enthusiast rider! I’ve been lucky: my passion became my job, and allowed me to well live. I attended the Art Centre during the 80s: in those days, everyone was designing cars, so I decided to focus my efforts on motorbikes. If everyone was designing cars, I had to design motorbikes if I wanted a job. I had some hard times: no one paid me the attention I deserved because the motorbike market was seen as a second-class market.
Pablo Picasso said: “a good artist copies, a great artist steals.” What do you think about that?
Picasso was cool! As I’ve said, today designers don’t produce anything new, they’re inspired by 20th century original creations. Consider the brand new Ducati “Panigale”: it may seem original, but it’s no more than a modern – and more technologically advanced – version of the 1936 “Vincent.” As Picasso said, we are just stealing ideas form the past! Well, steal is a harsh word. We get inspired by the past, we take old ideas and we modernize them for the 21st century.
Who is a person who really changed your career? Someone who has been important to you?
Claudio Castiglioni, definitely. He was unique: one of these characters that really changed history. In 1978 he bought a company that was dramatically close to failure, and totally re-created the motorbike market in Italy!
Look, I owned a Ducati in 1989, and when I first went to work in Cagiva, everyone made fun of me because of my motorbike. Even the Ducati employees themselves did the same. They used to tell me: “did you really pay for that shit?”
In less than ten years Castiglioni reversed this situation. In the end, he was my guide. We were friends and colleagues for 18 years. We did everything together: we worked, we argued, we travelled. There were no limits to what we did, in what we thought, in what we created.
Gift, skill or discipline: which makes a designer a great designer?
In my opinion a great designer is about 99% sweat and 1% talent! This means that a lot of discipline is required, even when you feel like you’ve hit the wall or reached the limit. This is something that I learned from Castiglioni: always push yourself!
Who is the designer you respect the most?
I would say Pininfarina. He led me to get started in design. He was great! Once when I was in Turin I had the chance to meet him, but I didn’t: myths should remain myths.
And what artist or band do you prefer while you are working?
Well, it depends…Music is fundamental and every moment we live has its own music. For example, when I worked on the Cagiva Raptor the Nine Inch Nails were in the air. I was listening to Guns ‘n’ Roses when I started working on the Ducati Monster. When I was a kid, Led Zeppelin was my favorite band! And I listened to Pink Floyd and Miles Davis too. As I told you, it depends on the moment: you can quickly switch from the Nine Inch Nails’ madness to Miles Davis’ genius.
Which motorbikes do you have in your garage?
Well, right now I have a couple of Rupus, a Guzzi V7 Racer, a 1993 900 Supersport, and a CB750 F that I was forced to buy, but I must tell you the truth: there haven’ t been bikes in my garage in a while. The one you see over there is a gift I gave my wife for our 30th wedding anniversary.
There’s been a lot of talk about electric motorcycles. What is your opinion?
I was completely against electric bikes until 2010, but last year I went to the Isle of Man for the first time and I realized that electric motorbikes could be the future, but manufacturers can’t see that yet … Electric motorbikes won’t replace traditional ones, they are just something new, a novelty that will be produced for the next 100 years. I mean, it’s the same with books: some people appreciate the new iPad and Kindle formats, but on the other hand, there are a lot of other people who will never read a book on an iPad!
What about the batteries? They are not so green…
You are right, but the point is that no one, so far, has ever put real effort into developing that technology. No one has done research either! I think that during the next twenty years things are going to change, however.