Meet Sara Bignardi, Design Director at Skew

Sara’s path to becoming Skew’s Design Director began in Italy with a BA in Media and Communication and a Post Grad in Graphic Design. She worked on type design with Viktor Baltus in Utrecht and then founded her own agency, MOOI, in her home town of Salerno.

A whirlwind introduction to British culture at Skew saw her taking a leading role in the development of brand extension projects for The R&A, Paddington, Oxford University, and The National Trust. But music is her first love and so her career highlight? Being in touch with Abbey Road Studios!

Question and Answer

with Sara......

How did you come across Skew

I saw your Ascot work and the British Museum and that caught my attention. I thought ‘if you never try, you never know’. I was very lucky, basically.

So, three and half years later and you’re Design Director. How does that feel?

The first month was scary. It was the first time I was hearing about licensing and brand extension and the first day at Skew I was working on Paddington! Honestly it was like - mind blown. I felt I wasn’t good enough for the team but I’m happy that I wasn’t scared, I kept going. I feel very proud because I feel like a different person, I’ve learned a lot.

What does being Design director mean to you?

It means trying to inspire, always trying to be better, to lead by example. I want this never to change - keeping the focus on talking, encouraging discussion, sharing ideas and inspiration and trying to be a better designer than you were yesterday. That’s the goal.

In that first year you had an extraordinary introduction to British culture, what was that like?

It was insane! The British Museum, The National Trust, The National Portrait Gallery gave us a private tour with the curator of the Tudors. And then at Oxford as well, at the Ashmolean, the Museum of Natural History, behind the scenes at Pitt Rivers was amazing. Wow! Visiting St Andrews! Remember that? The sort of things that you only get at Skew.

Tell me about your background, where does your creativity come from...

I come from a family that has a tradition in Millinery and Haute Couture. My family started their bridal atelier in the 1860’s. I can remember when I was very young with my mom at three or four, at the atelier going there with my mom already sketching, designing dresses and putting my monogram on top of it.

You hail from Salerno in southern Italy...

Salerno is near Naples but it’s not Naples. Salerno is much smaller city, the first town on the Amalfi Coast, so I basically spent my whole like in front of the sea. When I used to… (what is the for skipping school and not telling your parents?) we were just going on the beach and swimming all the time.

What is it that you miss about London when you visit your family?

Italians talk about the monuments, the big sights. But living here you enjoy simple things like the parks and going to the pub and you can feel free to be whoever you want.

Why do you think someone should choose to work with Skew?

One of the things about Skew that makes me very proud is that we always question things. I think this is really important - asking the right ‘why’. We’re genuine, the questioning, it’s a way to always give client the best they can get, better than even they know, better than their expectation.

What are the common features of your ideal project?

We think we are called to design products. But the truth is…as designers, we are designing relationships (between brands and their users). So, it comes down to the client themselves. Clients willingness to share part of their culture triggers our understanding, understanding triggers better solutions, right solutions lead to stronger relationships. With a good match, when they are excited as much as we are, then it works!

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