Mario Helmut Gagliardi is designer, thinker and teacher. He designed the fastest growing cosmetics brand in Asia, created the strategies for the cultural industries of Qatar, and designed the digital education ecosystem of Austria. He was appointed professor at Aalborg University (Denmark) and at Hongik University (Korea).
Working across the areas of design strategy, digital design, graphic design, spatial design, product design and branding, Mario was named ‘internationally acclaimed design strategist’ by the Danish Design Center. He delivered keynotes and speeches at the Rat für Formgebung (Germany), the Product Development and Management Association (UK), Innotown (Norway), the 8th European International Design Management Conference Trends/04 in Barcelona 2004, the 5th Marketing Conference of Management Centre Turkey in Istanbul 2004, the Era 05 World Design Congress (Helsinki, Gothenburg, Oslo and Copenhagen), the Tasmeem Doha design conference in Doha, the International Council of Design Week in Doha 2009 and the European Academy of Design Conference at Sapienza University in Rome 2017. Mario held lectures and gave workshops in leading universities such as London Business School (UK), University for the Creative Arts (UK), Kaospilot (Denmark), Bogazici University (Turkey) and Tsinghua University (China).
Mario was a master class student of design legends Alessandro Mendini and Richard Sapper at the University of Applied Arts in Vienna. Mario’s “philosophical cupboard” in the class of Alessandro Mendini was published in Alchimia: Contemporary Italian Design by Kazuko Sato (ISBN 3892680337). He started his career as industrial designer at Philips in the Netherlands. In 1989, he was awarded the design prize of architecture magazine Domus with the first digitally designed textile series for one of Italy’s most prestigious textile manufacturers, Somma. In 1990, he was awarded the first three prizes at the Austrian Post Shop design competition was selected for the Austrian national design award. Mario then designed highly successful lifestyle goods for clients such as Takashimaya (Japan) and Bergdorf Goodman (USA).
In 1995, Mario worked as consultant for the Korean Institute of Design Promotion to help building the new Korean design sector. He then led the first class of industrial design as professor at the newly founded International Design School of Advanced Studies at Hongik University. Finally, he was appointed as chief designer and head of design strategy at the LG headquarters in Seoul.
As the first non-Korean in a senior management position at LG, Mario developed a range of radically innovative product lines including Whoo, Korea’s most successful luxury brand. Boldly defying Western stereotypes in the global cosmetics industry, Whoo was received enthusiastically by Asian women and redefined the cosmetics sector in Korea and China. Whoo is Korea’s fastest growing high-end brand, in the meanwhile generating a yearly revenue of 1.4 billion US$ in the Asian market. Mario’s work was awarded the Good Design Mark of the Korean Republic.
Mario also worked as analyst and instructor for the Innovative Design Lab of Samsung, where he developed future technology scenarios and worked with Samsung Design Membership on speculative design projects to shape Samsung’s future design strategies in the early 2000s.
Upon returning to Europe, Mario joined a summer workshop led by Andra Branzi at Domus Academy in Milan. He then moved on to London, where he graduated with an MBA at the University of Westminster. From 2000, he worked as advisor for the Austrian Federal Ministry of Education, Science and Culture. With a strategic focus on educational innovation, he designed a transformative digital ecosystem for online learning and collaboration. This ecosystem increased e-learning usage in Austria from below 10% to over 90% within 5 years. In Austria, he also inspired the design efforts of glass crystal manufacturer Swarovski to help defining its global presence.
In 2007, Mario taught as professor at Aalborg University and lectured at Kaospilot in Aarhus. With an article series for the Danish Designers Association, he contributed to shape a new understanding of design by defining the new fields of experience design and generative design. From 2008, Mario served as CEO under chairperson HH Sheika Moza bint Nasser at Qatar Foundation in Doha, where he developed the core strategies for the cultural sector in Qatar. These strategies laid the groundwork for national initiatives such as the design-driven company Qatar Luxury Group and the Firestation artist in residence program.
In 2012, Mario created the non-profit culture sharing platform penccil to promote knowledge and reflection on creative expression, design and the arts. The platform has currently over half a million subscribed members in the creative sector. Since 2014, Mario curated a range of publications on penccil, including Superwall, Design DIY and The Elements in Design, and he consulted visual arts publisher Thames & Hudson towards their new online publishing platform.
Among his theoretical contributions to design, branding and innovation are the cultural analysis framework for branding and design (Design Management Review, 2001), metaphors of brand management and touch-points for brands (Identico, 2005), the concurrence of design integration and economic development stages (Danish Design Center, 2005), the first definitions of experience design and consumers as co-creators (Danish Designers, 2007) and the analysis framework for transformations, territories, frames and uses in the Digital (The Design Journal, 2017). He also wrote the monthly columns “Mario Gagliardi On Design” for Danish Designers (Denmark) and “Design Observations” for Korea’s Monthly Design.
Mario lives and works in Vienna, Austria and Seoul, South Korea.