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Francesco Furno

About me

My journey has taken me from designing flyers for Erasmus parties (so I could get in for free) to workplaces and companies in two different countries. Today I head my own world-renowned design studio called Relajaelcoco, and I’m a professor of the Bachelor in Design and the Bachelor in Communication and Digital Media at IE University—in many ways the culmination of a lifelong passion for creativity. I hope to instill in my students the same passion for challenging the status quo that has been so central in helping me achieve personal and professional fulfillment. When I’m not using my creative skills in the workplace, you’ll find me experimenting with new recipes in the kitchen.

Challenge yourself tackling unexpected situations

After finishing his undergraduate degree in his native Italy, Francesco began his professional journey as a designer at a local newspaper, where he was largely self-taught and learned on the job. He then moved to a small agency, and finally to designing art books with a local editor. Beginning the next chapter in his life, he moved to Barcelona to study art management and design at Istituto Europeo di Design—a move that he calls the best decision he’s ever made as it set the stage for him to found his own creative studio with his best friend.

With almost two decades of experience in the field, he’s learned a lot of lessons: to never blindly follow advice, be self-confident but keep your ego in check, base your work on conceptual analysis, and of course, be patient. Today, as a professor and business owner, he shares these insights with students, challenging them to tackle unexpected situations. To do so, he puts lateral thinking strategies at the center of his classes and encourages his students to focus more on reaching a creative mindset while not stressing about productivity.

Francesco comes from a long line of educators. His grandfather and both of his parents were teachers, so having the opportunity to continue a family tradition while gaining professional fulfillment at a world-class institution like IE University has been icing on the cake. In fact, he counts teaching as one of his passions, and is very excited to watch this year’s graduating class receive their diplomas.

Now, as the school year comes to a close, Francesco is eager to welcome the incoming Bachelor in Communication and Digital Media class. He says it may sound obvious, but his one piece of advice to these students is to not be prejudiced—commit yourself to finding the best way to communicate with diverse groups of people for each situation.

Professionally and academically, Francesco went on to share that in his eyes the recipe for success includes a careful mix of confidence, self-criticism, new perspectives, good planning and a strong work ethic. But when it comes to his personal hobbies, he says that his favorite recipes involve those which allow him to experiment with new techniques. His latest culinary experiment involved spherification—a type of molecular gastronomy. He is particularly proud of his crispy risotto with three textures of Parmesan cheese: melted, crispy, and spherified. Indeed, cooking is Francesco’s biggest passion. For him, it’s an outlet for creativity, an activity that creates vibrant connections during relaxed moments.
At the end of the day, Francesco has made it clear that the lessons he’s learned as a design professional—taking bold approaches and being innovative and creative—are equally important for his free time in the kitchen. IE University prides itself as an environment in which students and professors alike can thrive academically, professionally and personally.

Want to know more about the Bachelor in Communication and Digital Media program?