Friday Five with Francis Bitonti

We head to New York for this week’s Friday Five, spotlighting Francis Bitonti who received his Masters of Architecture from Pratt. The multidisciplinary designer founded Francis Bitonti Studio in 2007 and has since been a driving force in the design industry by using computer techniques paired with innovative manufacturing technologies. Last year he launched a collection of leather belts with 3D printed hardware with American fashion designer Katie Gallagher and then went on to create a jaw-dropping, 3D printed dress for burlesque icon Dita Von Teese as part of a collaboration with designer Michael Schmidt Studios and Shapeways. Next up is his first ever commercially available collection that will debut in Fall 2014. Here, he reveals five things he can’t live without.


1. White Paint
I always keep buckets of white paint in my hall closet. I paint most things I own white. I don’t like to be surrounded by noise. I don’t like things to get old… degradation is distracting and depressing.


2. Contractor Grade Garbage Bags
I don’t keep things long. I am always giving things away or throwing them out. I wish designers would design products that die so I wouldn’t have to throw them away. I don’t think our stuff should live longer then we do. I don’t want to haunt the next generation with my things.


3. My Fathers Hammer
I have a distaste for nostalgia, and I particularly dislike memories that are tied to physical things, but every now and then something creeps into your life. My father was a builder and he used this tool for as long as I can remember. I can’t get rid of it because I feel like it’s too much of him. It’s funny how such a humble object can become a monument when we are gone. I can’t use it to save my life, it’s useless except for its memory. It’s a ghost, but it’s a friendly ghost. I make every effort to eliminate these hauntings, and I hope to never inhabit such an object myself. But in the end everyone has a few ghosts with them…


4. Air Plants
I have lots of these in my apartment. I don’t own any art or knickknacks, I like plants, they are alive and always changing. I especially like these because they don’t need a pot or soil, they don’t bring anything with them when they move in. They grow or they die if you don’t take care of them. I wish everything I owned was like this; I would never have any excess and I wouldn’t need those contractor grade garbage bags.


5. Concrete PH by Xenakis
This song changed my career; it was a very intense experience. I have spent my career trying to capture this solid form, and I expect I will spend the rest of my life trying to do this. I think it reflects contemporary culture perfectly. It’s nonhierarchical, it’s undergoing complex but subtle transformations. It’s internal organization is too complex to understand but you know it’s there. It’s like listening to the Internet. I listened to it the first time when I was working for Vito Acconci. He always played music in the studio. It was a big part of working in the studio. It’s a big part of my studio now. Music has everything to do with design but doesn’t look like anything, it doesn’t feel like anything, it engages a different set of senses. It gives you just enough information to get started without getting in your way.

Caroline Williamson is Editorial Director of Design Milk. She has a BFA in photography from SCAD and can usually be found searching for vintage wares, doing New York Times crossword puzzles in pen, or reworking playlists on Spotify.