Viva the Culture of Design

The title of our current edition immediately captured the imagination of the designers, curators and economists who wrote and were interviewed for this issue. Though Italy may not need saving, the idea that one concept, one export, might bolster its success, is an attractive one.

Italian design is an intangible and diffuse export. As Ettore Sottsass said, “design is a way to understand life” [designer Gabriele Pezzini quotes him in our interview on page 36.] It comprises furniture, cars, shoes, clothing and appliances. Its protagonists were educated in craft, often in a family tradition. Many were modernists before modernism, embracing
innovation without sacrificing “form”. Taken as a philosophy representing a culture, design can be understood as a kind of cultural ambassador.

Characterized by an indelible combination of aesthetics, wit, function and color, the products that are truly “Italian” never exaggerate any of these aspects, but exhibit them in an elegant balance. Ultimately, Italian design is friendly, humanistic in its functionality even while unpredictable in its form.

Can this cultural flair sustain the country’s well-being through economic stress? New Italian designers, as new artists, musicians and writers, have a substantial history in which to partake – perhaps overwhelmingly so. It is up to them to answer the question, with their creativity, in collaboration with manufacturers and producers who recognize their
relevance.

The articles, interviews, photos and quotes in this edition provide a basis for illuminating your own answer to the question.

Claudia Palmira Acunto

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