I’ve been a long-time Audio Research fan. As part of my research on the brand, I came to know Livio Cucuzza, their designer, through a cyber friendship and also by his sublime design work of Sonus Faber, McIntosh Labs, and Audio Research projects. But I had never met the man…until Munich. I had asked Livio if I could do a short interview at Munich and he agreed. On Saturday afternoon, I rambled into the ARC/McIntosh press room and to my surprise our very own Dr. Pan was at the table already talking to Livio! I’d been scooped! Nah, it turns out that Dr. Pan speaks fluent Italian and went to medical school in Italy. These are men of many talents. ARC had quite a presence including David Mascioni, a senior marketing manager, and premiere German retailer Audio Reference led by Mansour Mamaghani, a true gentlemen who had a huge corner space that included the ARC, Sonus Faber, D’Agostino, and Krell brands among others. It was probably a long day for Livio but we finally got a chance to sit down, talk about his background, and take some photos. I just want people to get to know the man who designs some of the beautiful products for the World of McIntosh brands.
Lee: Livio, i’m curious how you got started. Can you tell me a little bit about your background?
Livio: Sure, I went to design school in Italy for three years, graduating in 2002. I did some work with Lego after I graduated then left in 2005. I then worked for an independent Milan agency, after I started my own design consulting dedicated to audio brands. Then I joined Sonus Faber as Senior Designer then later became Chief Designer. Then I created the design center for McIntosh Group that now encompasses ARC, Sonus Faber, McIntosh and Wadia. We have a team of 7 based in Vicenza that works across all brands.
Lee: What product designs have you worked on recently?
Livio: Quite a few. ARC Ref160, Ref-6, foundation line, Sonus Faber PALLADIO collection, Electa Amator III and Minima Amator II, McIntosh 70th anniversary, Rs-200 and MTI-100.
Lee: Wow, those are all gorgeous designs. On our Fans of Audio Research facebook page, many of us were envious when you ordered the Ref 160 monoblocks in a beautiful red. Where did your love of Audio Research begin?
Livio: ARC were always favorites. My father had an Hi-Fi shop back in the days, I grew up surrounded by hifi and when I received the first salary I bought a pair of Magnepan with Audio Research pre/amp.
Lee: I love the Sonus Faber design. The top of the speaker is tailored to look like a wooden boat.
Livio: Yes, that’s the Riva boat, an icon of 60s Italian luxury.
Lee: Makes me want to visit Lake Como and hang out with the Clooneys, lol. What’s McIntosh doing to get new customers?
Livio: I think we see it going into new markets. Of course, we are trying to maintain the existing audiophile market but we to bring hifi to and build interest in the “real world” market that involves both individuals and families. We truly believe hifi must be part of the everyday lifestyle of majority of people as it was one time.
Lee: What about the design? How do you bridge both worlds of audiophile heritage and more practical, modern design?
Livio: There has historically been a laboratory feeling of ARC and we need that functionality and we don’t want to be a complete lifestyle focused brand like B&O. We are trying to find that happy point where they will meet, elegance in form and function.
Lee: How do feel about Audio Research’s historical design?
Livio: It’s always had some root in the Bauhaus school. Bill Johnson created a design that was highly functional but always pretty nice in ergonomics. You can see it in the proportion of the front panels, symmetry and rigorous graphics. Form follows function in these designs. Often we focus on just the buttons you really need, no more, no less. It’s classical in a beautiful way.
Many thanks Livio for making time for both me and Dr. Pan. I had very high expectations and you exceeded them. Your product design is beautiful and speaks for itself. I cannot wait to see your future designs from World of McIntosh!