Uses This

1213 interviews since 2009

A picture of Pierluigi Dalla Rosa

Pierluigi Dalla Rosa

Creative technologist

in designer, developer, mac

Who are you, and what do you do?

I'm Pier, and I usually find it hard to put myself in a box, but I generally fit under the creative technologists' label. I studied Cinema and Media Engineering and Interaction Design, and since studying I've been constantly at the intersection between design and technology. In my every day life I create in code and atoms, I build things with behaviors, I dress spaces with interactivity, I solder, I make pictures, I teach and sometimes I sail as well.

You can find some of my work at www.pierdr.com.

What hardware do you use?

I have a 15-inch MacBook Pro (Late 2013, 2.6Ghz i7, 16GB, NVIDIA GeForce GT 750M), my everyday companion that still works quite well and so I'm delaying the switch to dongle life. I use plenty of things that are wired and I kind of like them :) I go quickly through them. I have an unexciting LG 24 inch display, and I use a 1999 lime iMac keyboard (M2452) and a Phillips SPM4900 mouse with 2 buttons and a scroll wheel. The mouse is one of my best friends because it works great with a lot of software that still has that configuration as the main paradigm. I also have a Bamboo pen tablet that I use when playing with graphics. Often I connect my laptop directly via Ethernet, for nostalgia and reliability.

I do write the firmware of some physical computing devices, particularly Arduinos and my own embedded boards like the Z-One board or the tramontana board. I also have a Raspberry Pi 4 that is connected to two speakers and works as an AirPlay receiver, where I can send music while I work.

On my desk I also keep an oscilloscope, the Siglent SDS 1000X, a non-glamorous frog designed 3D printer, the MOD-T, an Apple eMate and a 1986 512kb Classic Mac. The two latter are part of a wider collection of old computers but are particularly iconic for me and I believe many interaction designers, as they are the "first" ones (not starting a debate here...) to embrace interaction metaphors, respectively the Notebook and the Desktop, and I found them inspiring to look at.

Under my desk I have boxes with all sorts of electronics, but my favorite devices are Raspberry Pi Zeros, ESP32 based microcontrollers, and old PS Eye cameras and Microsoft Kinect v1 (rigorously model number 1414). With these, I build sketches of installations, drawing robots, home sensors and more...

In my bag, I always keep with me an Apple AirPort Express that I use to create a custom network when I need to prototype interactive spaces or connected objects, and I carry with me a Canon 550D, with few fixed optics: Canon 50mm f1.8 and SMC Pentax 24mm F2.8 are my favorites. To complete the photo setup I have a bunch of lightweight tripods, like the Ravelli APLT4.

My phone is an iPhone 6s (16GB), which is my everyday phone, but my development phone is an iPhone SE (128GB) that almost always follows me as well.

Despite my fascination with the digital world I have plenty of physical notebooks, all of them from Muji, and I write on them with Muji pens as well, black ballpoint with tip size 0.38mm.

And what software?

A good part of my work happens in code so I use a few IDEs - Xcode is my favorite. I use also Processing, Sublime Text, Arduino IDE and Eclipse.

I can't not mention two of the creative coding frameworks that I use and I'm a proud contributor of, openFrameworks and Processing (that is not just an IDE but a full environment for creative coding).

I use the Terminal embedded in macOS quite a lot - for version control, mostly git and for dependency management, mostly CocoaPods.

Another part of my work is done in Illustrator, Photoshop and InDesign - I use these to create UI, vector images, and documents to be printed. When visualizing ideas Blender is my go to tool!

When it's about creating mechanical designs for manufacturing I mostly use Fusion 360, and to create electronics I use EAGLE. My utility companions for electronics are CoolTerm, AVRFuses, and graphMe.

I'm a big fan of small utilities, so I use Spectacle, f.lux, and SelfControl.

On iOS I use the usual apps but I really like the experience of the SoundCloud app. I'm also quite an experimental photography geek, and almost every day I use my own artgram and tramontanaCV apps to capture the world in unexpected ways.

What would be your dream setup?

After Apple release the new Mac Pro, I would definitely like to have one of those with the Pro Display XDR. I think I will pair that with an Apple HomePod for an improved audio experience.

I think the list of tools related to digital fabrication could be almost infinite, but I wouldn't mind a new 3D printer, and I'd go for an Ultimaker 3. In my wishlist also lies a ceramics 3D printer, probably the VormVrij LUTUM 4. With ceramics and electronics, I would need a couple of ovens, specifically a kiln and a reflow oven.

Of course, I would like to have everything solar-powered and hooked up to a Tesla Powerwall.

As these tools occupy quite a little bit of space, I would need a large room, and in my dreams on one side I'd have the digital fabrication lab, while on the other I would have an inspirational display of old technologies.

When talking about photography and video I would love to have two more cameras: a Blackmagic Micro Studio Camera 4k with Arduino Shield to create experimental custom controllers and, clearly, some fixed focal length Micro Four Thirds lenses, from wide-angle to zoom; I would also like to update my camera, and I would probably fancy a newer Canon DSLR or a Leica M-D. With these two additions, I would mod my seasoned Canon 550D to become an infrared-only camera, and it would be a great one for outdoor photography.

All of this is quite a bit of dreaming and budget, but who knows what the future holds!

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