We had a chit chat with Sara and Benedetta, mostly known with their Instagram names @sarettasun and @serendella. Two experience designers born and made in Italy and currently living in Shenzhen, China. Founders of their own studio Wearepanglossian, their goal is to create meaningful experiences, whether they regard a design project or a crafted journey, to bring the Italian sophisticated touch to Asia.
How did two born&made Italian ladies land China?
Everything started when both of us won an exchange program for China through our University in Italy. Before then, we didn’t really know each other, and we thought was a good idea to grab a dinner together before embarking this adventure. The same night, after three drinks, we decided to go living together.
We arrived in Shanghai on February 2014 to start a Master in Tongji University. Funny thing is that it was right on S. Valentine’s day and, later on, we interpreted this day as a celebration of love for life and love for what we do.
Shanghai was a blast; however, the University course wasn’t giving us that kind of energetic vibes we were looking for. To get the best out of this experience, we were meeting with as many people as possible in our field, and by chance using Instagram to tell about our daily life in Asia, reading the environment with the eyes of an outsider.
Instagram has a big role in your job, how its use changed from the beginning?
The use of Instagram and the beginning of our company are closely related.
Originally, we were using the social platform to show and share the reality we were living in, and we found out it was useful also for ourselves to understand what was going on in our lives, like keeping a diary with real stories. One day, we had been selected as winners of an Instagram contest for a Café; with the excuse of going there to pick up the voucher, we decided to prepare a brand presentation... they loved it and eventually offered us the job straight away. This opened the doors for other collaborations and jobs.
Later on, a journalist who was flying to Shanghai contacted us through Instagram; she asked to make her experience the city and filter it with our eyes. This was something different from what we were doing before, however complementary.
After her stay, she wanted to write about us and so she asked for our company name catching us unprepared. We realized that what we were doing together, whatever it was, was becoming concrete. We started brainstorming about a name and ended up founding Wearepanglossian.
The meaning is “blindly optimistic” and it is extracted from a book by the French Enlightenment philosopher Voltaire, were Pangloss, the fictional protagonist, was teaching how to be optimistic.
After few times, we founded Delve, another side project that made us realize our full identity.
The meaning is “dive into”, as we want to connect people with similar interests and make them experience our reality with our eyes and touch, having a mutual flow between Italy-China and vice versa. While developing these projects, our main mantra is to keep flexible, trying to embrace every new challenge and to provide the most vary service.
How did you end up in the thrilling Shenzhen?
Between 2014 and 2015, we went back to Italy to graduate with the intention to return to Shanghai and legalize our studio, but life not always goes as planned. We got a job offer in Shenzhen and back then we didn’t know anything about the City itself and any kind of information was impossible to google.
Known as the Asian “Silicon Valley”, Shenzhen is one of the fastest-growing cities in the world between the 1990s and the 2000s. A booming young city, its modern cityscape is the result of its vibrant economy, exciting and brimming with opportunities, so we decided to give it a try. We opened our own studio and started a kind of interior design more focused on concept and research.
What we do is adding value to the project, giving the client the why, the how, the driver, the target and the emotions they want to convey.
Why they need it?
Because they are used to do things fast and to replicate them, with missing the basis.
When a project is a replica it has no subjective meaning, no depth, no substance behind. If you want to diverse your business, you need to differentiate, especially in a city like Shenzhen where the business competition is very high. When we are designing, it is good to think about the social environment and target specifically the audience, this is why our research before doing a project is so important to result with something meaningful.
How does the Chinese market interpret what you do?
China is so complex that is very difficult to find the main stream.
We lived in two big cities with two completely different stories. Shanghai has a colonial past, you find our level of architecture and layout, it has a European layer imprinted and this is important in the development of the society. In a way, it was a comfortable and easy landing place where we could find some familiar elements, although the market is very mature and pretty packed.
While Shenzhen was not even existing 35 years back; it quickly went from being a market town to become one of the leading global technology hubs. The fulfilling thing is that while the city develops, we take part to this change, trying to fit in it and find our place. Besides, the society layer is way more various and nobody is a local here, everyone is an outsider. What we called “the Shenzhen approach” is the will everybody has to collaborate, in order to grow and build something good, among private interests.
How did Italians change in conceiving China?
The perception, or we could say misconception, that average people in Italy have against China is just because they don’t know what it really is, and they still rely on the cloud of prejudices that hovers over it. On top of that, Italian society is itself conservative and we might find it difficult to interact with a culture which is far from our values.
And what about the way Chinese see Italy?
They also have some misconceptions about Italians, based on our soft power as a nation that is huge, recognized for culture, food and good taste. On the other side, there is the Chinese community in Italy which is very well integrated, already at the 2nd and 3rd generation; these people are good drivers between two cultures they know properly.
Can you share a curiosity about each other?
Our best thing is being complementary: Sara is the speedy one, while Benedetta is the thoughtful one.
What's your statement?
没有什么不可能 - Impossible is nothing