Alessandra D'Alessio & Alyssa Vani

Professional in Toy Design.

About Alessandra D'Alessio & Alyssa Vani

  • Winner of Toy Design Award.
  • Specialized in Toy Design.
  • Original Design.
  • Creative, Diligent and Innovative.
  • All Designs
  • Toy
Braille blocks   toy

Braille blocks toy

Toy Design


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Interview with Alessandra D'Alessio & Alyssa Vani

Could you please tell us more about your art and design background? What made you become an artist/designer? Have you always wanted to be a designer?
Alessandra D’Alessio: I have always wanted to pursue a career in the visual arts ever since I was a little girl. I grew up with a passion for drawing, painting and designing as a child and could always be found drawing pictures or making crafts. School and summer art camps helped me foster my love for the visual arts and allowed me to excel in the creative field. Alyssa Vani: With myself, I never really thought that a design background would be a career that I would pursue. As a child I was always really good at math and the sciences, however I did always have a hidden talent for art. I was really good at painting and doing all kinds of crafts in Elementary School, but it wasn’t until High school that I truly realized that Design was where I wanted to go. Now I love any arts from hands on work and model making, all the way to advanced computer graphics. From there forward I’ve always been so happy with my choice, knowing that I would not want to be doing anything else.
Can you tell us more about your company / design studio?
Both of us have just completed our second year of studies at the Ryerson School of Interior Design. The Ryerson School of Interior Design is located in the heart of downtown Toronto and is one of Ontario’s oldest university degree granting interior design programs. The school first opened in 1948 and is focused on teaching young designers through experiential and hands on learning techniques. The Ryerson School of Interior Design has been named one of the top three design schools in the world, alongside Parsons The New School for Design in New York City and The Rhode Island School of Design in Providence. With emphasis on both studio and workshop courses, students learn to foster their creativity and passions through the rigorous curriculum.
What is "design" for you?
For us, design is about coming up with new and innovative solutions. It is about bringing fresh ideas to the table and exploring your creative train of thought. The way we are taught is to really focus on the concept of your design because the best work always comes out of many, many iterations of your ideas.
What kinds of works do you like designing most?
We are both very interested in Interior Design. Alessandra D’Alessio: I have a particular interest in product and graphic design as well. Alyssa Vani: I would say that I am also interested in product design as I love to build things with my hands, but I truly am interested in graphic design and the things that can derive as an outcome of our advanced technology.
What is your most favorite design, could you please tell more about it?
Alessandra D’Alessio: My favourite design is a pair of high heal sandals I created using only five pieces of white Bristol board. No adhesives such as glue, staples or tape were involved in the making of the shoes. This was a very challenging first year university project I had completed. It is my favourite design so far because although it was an extremely difficult challenge to overcome, the nature of the project allowed me to really think outside of the box and take my creativity to the next level. Alyssa Vani: My favourite design would have to be this series of models that we had to make for one of our classes in second year university. It consisted of four models of the same building, and each time we had to do our research and come up with our own interpretation of the circulation, sightlines, detail and parti, without having ever visited the space. It was fun to build models that were never actually literal of the building but to my version of it and then being able to compare it with others that had the same site. It was my favourite design project so far as it allowed me to put my own touch of creativity into a pre-existing design.
What is your favorite material / platform / technology?
Alessandra D’Alessio: My favourite material is a sketching pencil or paintbrush. My favourite artistic medium to work with is graphite or oil paint. Alyssa Vani: Acrylic and watercolour paints would have to be my favourite artistic medium. My favourite technology platform currently is AutoCAD, the Adobe Suite and a 3D modeling program that we are learning called Rhinoceros.
When do you feel the most creative?
Alessandra D’Alessio: I feel most creative when I am sitting outside in my backyard at home sketching, or when I am riding the subway every morning to school. The long ride in silence allows me to think through some of my designs and come up with ways to improve them. Alyssa Vani: I feel the most creative when I can explore the world we live in, and be inspired by everyday things. I also love to be in a creative environment like our studio at school, where I can constantly bounce my ideas off of other creative souls and think of new ways to improve my designs.
Which aspects of a design do you focus more during designing?
Alessandra D’Alessio: I tend to focus a lot of my time on the initial concept development stage through countless sketches and ideations. My ideas are best communicated through drawings. I also like to focus a lot of my time on the fabrication stage of the design project, where I get to take my sketches and turn them into a reality. Alyssa Vani: As we have stated before, we are taught to focus on the initial concept, and work through many iterations of it. So for myself as well I do put a lot of focus on the initial concept in addition to making mock-up models of the actual design, whether it is by hand or through a computer program.
What kind of emotions do you feel when you design?
Alessandra D’Alessio: When I am in the “design zone” I feel ready, concentrated and passionate. It is very exciting to be fully immersed in a project you feel passionate about and have to ability to improve it and watch it develop overtime. Alyssa Vani: Design makes me very happy. Everyday my interest in it grows more and more, growing my passion for design with it. It can be stressful at times when your desired outcome isn’t working as planned, but that’s just the way of design. When you go back to the drawing board and finally end up with this amazing proposal, all of the struggle in the process makes it feel like so much more of a success.
What makes a design successful?
We believe that hard work, dedication, persistence and patience are the key factors that need to come together to make a design successful. A design is hardly ever successful in its first few attempts. From experience we can say that the final outcome is always a product of countless ideations coming together at different times and the process of always going back to your work.
When judging a design as good or bad, which aspects do you consider first?
When judging a design as good or bad, we both think it’s important to look at the entire process of the project, from its early stages to its final ideations and throughout its fabrication stage. A good design will have a thorough story to tell when it comes to its development from beginning to end.
From your point of view, what are the responsibilities of a designer for society and environment?
From our point of view, it is the responsibility of the designer to find a way to make their designs environmentally friendly and environmentally conscious. This has to do with making the right choices for materials based on their properties and the effect they will have on the environment. It is also very important to design with the benefit of society in mind. It is best to start off by asking yourself “whom does this design cater to and how will it make their life better or easier?”
How do you think the "design field" is evolving? What is the future of design?
The future of design lies in environmental and sustainable solutions. The design field is moving greatly towards adaptive reuse projects and finding new ways to reuse old materials. We believe that the future of design is all about how to improve our quality of life through innovative and resourceful thinking.
When was your last exhibition and where was it? And when do you want to hold your next exhibition?
An exhibition of some of our work will be held at the Ryerson School of Interior Design Year End Show in downtown Toronto, which is an annual exhibition of the best works from students in years one through four. The Year End Show will open on April 21st 2016 and run until April 28th 2016.
Where do you live? Do you feel the cultural heritage of your country affects your designs? What are the pros and cons during designing as a result of living in your country?
We both both live right outside of Toronto in a city called Vaughan in Ontario, Canada. We live at home and go to school in the heart of the city so we believe that our daily travel of leaving our quiet neighborhoods and entering a loud, and busy city has influenced the way we design.
Can you talk a little about your design process?
The project began when we were trying to find a way to create a product that would enhance someone’s way of life. We had many different initial ideas however decided that designing a product that would improve a blind or visually impaired person’s way of life was the direction we wanted to go in.
Could you please share some pearls of wisdom for young designers? What are your suggestions to young, up and coming designers?
Our advice to young artists and designers is to work hard and have patience. Do not lose sight of your goals and follow your passion. Good things take time and hard work most definitely pays off. You will find your niche through many years of practicing and creating.
Which tools do you use during design? What is inside your toolbox? Such as software, application, hardware, books, sources of inspiration etc.?
We spend a lot of time working with just a pencil and paper to get our ideas flowing initially. Throughout the entire stage of a project and depending on the nature of the project itself, we use software programs such as: AutoCAD, Rhino, Photoshop, InDesign, Illustrator, PowerPoint and Microsoft Word to bring our ideas to life. We also spend a lot of our time in our Workshop at the university where we frequently use the laser printer and different machinery and hand held tools.
What type of design work do you enjoy the most and why?
Alessandra D’Alessio: I truly enjoy so many different aspects of design, from interior design to graphic design. However, my true passion lies in drawing and oil painting, as well as product design. I love projects that are hands on, where I have to chance to manipulate materials and make things on my own. I am most confident and effective with just a pen and paper. Alyssa Vani: The design work I enjoy the most is a mixture of interior, product, and graphic design. Each field has something that interests me and they always allow for me to mix things up once and a while. I also love to combine these fields together in every design that I create. I believe this hybrid platform allows for ample creativity, as I have a skill and passion for both the hands on and computer generated portion of all these fields.
What are your future plans? What is next for you?
Alessandra D’Alessio: After graduating from the Ryerson School of Interior Design in May of 2018, I plan on getting a master’s degree in interior design or industrial design. I am also thinking about getting my masters of Business Administration. From there I plan on becoming a certified interior designer. Alyssa Vani: Upon graduation after my four years at Ryerson School of Interior Design, also in May 2018, I plan to work the allotted amount of hours in the design field so that I can write the NCIDQ Examination to become an accredited Interior Designer. In the process of that, I may look into going back to school to master in Marketing or get my real-estate license.
How can people contact you?
Alessandra D’Alessio: I can be contacted by email at alessandra.dalessio@ryerson.ca Alyssa Vani: I can be contacted by email at alyssa.vani@ryerson.ca or alyssavani@hotmail.com

Extended Interview with Alessandra D'Alessio & Alyssa Vani

Could you please tell us a bit about your design background and education?
Alessandra: Visual arts is my greatest passion, it has always played such a defining role in my life and has had such an incredible impact on me as a person. My favourite hobby growing up was drawing and continues to be today. I am now currently studying Interior Design at Ryerson University in Toronto, Canada and am in my third year of studies. Alyssa: When I was younger I did not always envision myself in a career with design. I have always had a love and talent for it, but it was not until my later high school years that I decided to pursue it. Currently, I am enrolled in my third year at Ryerson University studying interior design and I could not be happier with my choice. I feel like I am doing exactly what I should be, drawing, designing, and creating graphics, while constantly finding new ways to be inspired.
What motivates you to design in general, why did you become a designer?
Alessandra: Throughout my childhood I experimented with painting, sewing and countless other mediums to express my creativity. Choosing an undergraduate degree that would lead me to a design related career was an easy choice, as it was something I always knew I would pursue. I became a designer because it is something I have always wanted to become. Alyssa: I've always had a love for interior design. I would always find myself watching the W Network and HGTV shows, eagerly waiting to see the final transformations. Working with my hands is one of my favourite things to do, whether it be sketching, physically making models, or anything computer related. Being an interior design student has allowed me to broaden my horizons and work on many projects using a variety of mediums to express my designs.
What do you design, what type of designs do you wish to design more of?
Alessandra: I design a variety of things, especially now that I am Studying at the Ryerson School of Interior Design, which has allowed me to try out woodworking, advanced model making and 3d computer modeling as well. Mainly I design interiors for school, in addition to wood, or laser cut models that have to do with special relationships, overall concepts and the interaction of different materials. I wish to design more products, such as the braille blocks. I have become more and more interested in product design since I began my studies at Ryerson and hope to pursue the product design feel after my undergraduate degree. Alyssa: As an interior design student, the majority of my designs are of the interiors and exteriors of spaces. These designs include a wide range of things such as floor plans, sections, 3D renderings and models. In addition to this I have designed some products including a light modulator and Braille Blocks, as well as some posters for graphic design. I wish to design more products as well as some furniture as I have a strong interest for them both and believe that it would provide me with more experience and insight in the ever-growing design field.
What should young designers do to become a design legend like you?
Alyssa: My best advice for young designers would be to stick with it. Find what inspires you and try to work that into your designs in order to keep yourself motivated and interested. Concentrate and put loads of time into it. When you throw all your time into a design, you want it to be the best it could possibly be, causing you to produce some fantastic work.
What distinguishes between a good designer and a great designer?
Alessandra: Anyone has the potential to go from being a good designer to a great designer. You must be dedicated to your work and love the project! If you are passionate about your work it will speak for itself. Put your heart into it and revise it as many times as necessary. Be dedicated to it and put in the time that it requires. No great project is an easy one, and no great project has a quick solution. Your proudest creations will take the longest to create.
What makes a good design a really good design, how do you evaluate good design?
Alyssa: I believe that a good design is a well thought out design. The concept is the most important stage in any design project. Figuring out what the design is intended to do, who it is intended for, and all the problems that could be associated with it, is the best way to start. Once a design's thought process has been broken down, the design concept can then begin to grow, as solutions arise and ideas flow. In order to evaluate if a design is "good", the main things to look at would be: Does it do what it is intended to? Does it cater to the right target market? Was it executed in the most efficient way? Any design that can say yes to all of these points would be considered good design to me,
What is your secret recipe of success in design, what is your secret ingredient?
Alessandra: My secret recipe for success in design is definitely my left hand. My ability to draw has helped me communicate my ideas in every project I have ever created. Sketching out the project countless times is what helps me work through design complications. Drawing out the project in stages and understanding how each piece will work with another to create something. Sketching out the game plan has always been my secret weapon.
If you hadn’t become a designer, what would you have done?
Alessandra: I always wanted to pursue a career in the design field and truly do not know what I would be doing if I did not go to Ryerson and find the creative, design program that I am currently in now. Alyssa: If I hadn't become a designer, by back-up career would have been something in mathematics or even a teacher. Ideally a teacher in the creative subjects would have been the best choice. Thankfully, I made the right choice pursing the career path that I did, as I could not see myself doing anything else.
How do you define design, what is design for you?
Alessandra: Design is everything! It has no limitations. Every aspect of our lives has been designed by someone and that is what I find so inspiring about the field. It is endless and it is universal. Design is its own language. Alyssa: I have to agree with Alessandra here. Design is endless. Limitations do not exist as the number of possibilities are constantly growing more and more as the world evolves.
Who helped you to reach these heights, who was your biggest supporter?
Alessandra:My biggest supporters are my parents. They have always encouraged my artistic dreams and have helped me along the way. They bought me every art supply in the world. Thank you Mom and Dad for providing me with the most extensive art supply collection, I love it. Alyssa: My biggest supporters would definitely have to be my family, especially my parents. Through every late night and minor panic attack, my parents were by my side asking how they could help. Allowing me to participate in every great opportunity that has come my way has allowed me to evolve into the designer that I am today and I could never thank them enough for it.
What helped you to become a great designer?
Alessandra: My ultimate goal, I don’t even know where to begin. The goal is to create amazing things always. I want to start my own firm that focuses on a variety of design projects.
How do you think designers should present their work?
Alyssa: The presentation of designs will always vary depending on what the design is. I am a huge supporter of graphics when it comes to explaining a design and how it works. As a visual person, I enjoy being able to see the design and it's concept first hand. For others who may not be used to understanding projects like other designers would, it helps to have graphics that break down the concept with diagrams that illustrate the process.
When you have a new design project, where do you start?
Alessandra: Any design project of mine begins in my notebook as a basic sketch. I work through my ideas on paper with words and a variety of drawings, which always help me come up with solutions and ways to move forward. Alyssa: The first thing I do is sketch out my ideas, whether it be something quick or a drawing roughly to scale. I am a huge fan of computers and the graphics that can be created with them, but I will always be a physical person. I need to have a paper copy that I can touch, manipulate, and scribble my ideas all over.
What is your life motto as a designer?
Alessandra: I have a few life mottos as a designer. These are words that I live by: 1. Don’t go to bed until you have worked it out, or until it is done. I am never the person that takes a break or goes to sleep if they are stuck. I always stay up to do the work; this does not work for everyone, but it has always worked for me. 2. Let the project take over your life. Any great design project will require an extremely large portion of your time. It will inevitably take over your life with all the work it will require, so embrace the crazy and let it take over. 3. Never get your heart set on your first design. Revise it three times before you fall in love with it. Anything I have ever created has always turned out better because I took the time to revise it. The first draft is never the end result. 4. Believe in your work, develop a thick skin. Have confidence in what you have made, it is a reflection of who you are. Some people may not appreciate your work, that's normal. 5. Love it or you will hate it. Love the project you are working on, otherwise you will not be proud of the outcome. Spend the time making something you will be proud of.
What is the role of technology when you design?
Alyssa: When I design, I always try to involve technology when it comes to my final drafts. There are so many programs these days that allow you to do things that you would never think of with just a pen on paper.
What kind of design software and equipment do you use in your work?
Alessandra: I always switch between the following programs to make diagrams, plans, 3d models or computer models. AutoCAD, Rhino, Photoshop, Illustrator, Indesign. However, pen and paper are just as important. Alyssa: Some of the programs I use are AutoCAD, Adobe Creative Cloud (Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign, Acrobat), Rhino with VRay, and SketchUp.
How did you develop your skills as a master designer?
Alessandra: Practice! I spent my entire childhood drawing pictures. Strong skills take years to perfect. Drawings is something you need to work at, it requires dedication and a love for it.
How do you feel about all the awards and recognition you had, is it hard to be famous?
Alessandra & Alyssa: We are overjoyed and grateful. We are so happy to be recognized for a project that we absolutely love.
What is your favorite color, place, food, season, thing and brand?
Alessandra: Favourite colour: Red Favourite season: Summer. Alyssa: My favourite colour would have to be navy blue. I dream to travel to Greece and my favourite season is Fall.
Please tell us a little memoir, a funny thing you had experienced as a designer?
Alessandra: I cannot tell you how many times I have cried over projects when I was stuck. This is a common event, which is quite funny to think about looking back. Alyssa: Late nights in the design studio at school will always be something that I'll remember. When everyone is stressed, tired and brains/eyes feel like mush from staring at a screen for too long, the funniest things can happen.
What makes your day great as a designer, how do you motivate yourself?
Alyssa: My main motivator is my excitement for my current projects. When I love what I am designing, I see myself always finding a way and time to work on it. I also love looking for inspiration on sites such as Pinterest in order to give myself that extra boost.
When you were a little child, was it obvious that you would become a great designer?
Alessandra: As a child, it was obvious that I would pursue design. I always hoped it would continue to be such a relevant part of my life and who I would become.

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