Stefano Casanova is a designer we have known for many years. Like many Italians, he has a passion for bikes of all sorts, designing as well as riding them. When not sketching the new generation of Benelli motorcycles, amongst other things he can be found pulling manuals all the way down the hills of Pesaro near his house on his mountain bike burning up the brake pads! He recently designed one of the stars of the 2015 EICMA show in Milan, the Benelli Leoncino so we asked him a bit about his thoughts behind the bike.
*PSP*: Tell us about the new Benelli Leoncino.
*Stefano:* My idea was clear since the beginning.
When you are in charge as a designer for an old brand like Benelli, with more than 100 years of history, you can not forget or ignore what was made in the past.
The concept was born whilst observing the Benelli Leoncino from 1956. This model lifted up the brand in the postwar period, where after the destruction left by the Second World War the Benelli brothers and theirs guys found the will and the strength to restart everything with the Leoncino.
The first Benelli Leoncino distinguished itself from an aesthetic point of view with a combination of ‘sportiness’ and ‘elegance’ which was found in it’s balanced forms, and on the technical side, for the use of a refined 4-stroke engine.
More than anything else, the Benelli Leoncino was also a race winning machine. My concept starts from these memories. From what has remained. From what is still unforgotten. It is not a replica of a classic bike but an attempt to retrieve the stylistic features that makes this motorcycle fascinating and charming even today. I wanted to bring these features back to life in a modern design language. There are no frills and there are no decorations, no useless parts. Everything is strictly honest, but at the same time the cleanliness that remains is not cold, it is not Teutonic. The forms are massive but graceful, the proportions extremely compact. The design of this bike is minimal, using smooth volumes and sleek surfaces. It is clean but it also still retains an emotional aspect.
*PSP*: How would you define the Design language behind the Leoncino?
*Stefano:* I would like to see it as being honest. This bike is not a design show off. It is a way back to the essence of Benelli.
*PSP: What lies in the future for the Leoncino?
Stefano: The Leoncino for me is not just a model name, it is a new family of bikes that has been reborn under the Benelli Brand. I say reborn because we need to know and to understand our own history first in order to make our own future. In a complicated world we need more that ever ‘Simplicity’. Simplicity does not mean old, corny, boring. There are so many ways to be simple. Today to be simple and different to the others is not easy, but this was our goal with the Leoncino.
*PSP*: What does style mean to you?
Stefano: Style is a language of communication. That’s’ why for me this language has to be direct, clear honest. If is not, the style will end up confused, busy, overdone. A clear statement helps you to focus on what you need and clean up the things you don’t. It let’s you go straight to the point of the motorcycle. I like to speak simple. I want my style like that.
*PSP*: Tell us about yourself.
Stefano: It may sounds strange to hear it but I have always been a designer. It started as far back as primary school. My teacher Enrico, was a great sketcher and an incredible sculptor, with a huge passion for racing bikes and cars. I spent a lot of time with him to ” study” racing magazines, and to make sketches and models in DAS of them. I remember those days with joy. This made rise in me a deep interest for all that is fast on wheels and it was natural for me to apply my love for drawing to motorcycles.
After that I studied in a techincal high school, then Industrial Design at University and a Masters in Transportation Design. I have worked in many fields as a designer. In footwear, sporting goods, automotive and then finally to my home now, designing motorcycles for Benelli.
*PSP*: One final question, when can we buy the new Leoncino and do you have a rough idea what the price will be?
Stefano: The bike will be available around October 2016 and will cost under 6000 euros.
*PSP*: Thank’s dude, we want one, see you soon for a ride!
Stefano: Yes sure!!