I had gone for the day to see friends at Campagnolo in Vicenza and photograph the factory after visiting their 80th birthday party the day before, but Valentino and I talked about Italian design classics and the importance of design in products which strayed all the way from architecture to Lancia Delta Integrales and Fiat Multiplas and he suddenly jumped up and ushered me into his office where he rummaged in the safe and produced this box, the original prototypes his father Tullio had designed and had made for the original quick release he effectively invented.
And so, naturally out came my camera again.
As I had walked up the stairs ten minutes earlier I was told he was ready for his interview now, and I hadn’t planned one and therefore prepared any questions! So I quickly thought up some things to ask and then off went the design conversation out of the blue and all was rescued as the awkward silence i feared didn’t happen in the end.
Here’s the interview we made on the spur of the moment…
Valentino Campagnolo Interview.
1) We know the importance of the past to Campagnolo, but what part does the future play now?
VC – There is a mandatory loyalty to heritage here. A kind of self respect of our history. But an understanding that performance is priority so cutting edge technology is also deeply regarded.
2) Of all the champions that have sat in these rooms, is there a particular one you regard personally as a champion of champions?
VC – Eddy Merckx and Miguel Indurain. They are both down true champions, and yet down to earth. They are both nice with a capital N. Super champions that were always ready to talk to people.
3) Of all of your achievements, which are you most proud?
VC – When somebody recognises the uniqueness of Campagnolo. When they make the connection, share the same pride and passion and feeling about a component we do. When they share the same ideal.
4) To be cutting edge but in balance with tradition without compromising performance is quite an achievement. How on earth do you make it look so easy?
VC – For Campagnolo the priority is performance. Not innovation in design or complexity for the sake of it, but how can we improve the performance of a product? Small or large improvement, but no rules of having to be modern or traditional, simply the least complex route to improvement, that is often utilising modern technology, sometimes looking to the past.
5) How important is working with the pros on development of your components?
VC – It doesn’t matter if it is a high level Super Record product or a more affordable one like Athena, we give the prototypes to racers to test, they are the best resource for true feedback. Any component may be raced and this is the best way to make it as good as it can be.
6) Do you have a component or group of which you are most proud?
VC – What I am most proud of component wise is that we try to make every component servicable. So we design a product to last a long time and be repairable not throwaway. I am proud of that.
7) What would you like to see people feel about Campagnolo in the future?
VC – I would like Campagnolo to be respected for the passion we put into the company. The way it has been and the way it will be.
©Augustus Farmer 2013