What does Italian Design Mean to You?: The design world answers the Italian Journal’s question

compiled by Laura GIACALONE

“I believe that, in some respects, the great fortune of Castiglionis’ work, and of Italian design in general, was that we had a very free, disenchanted relationship with technology. Experimenting was quite affordable, which probably helped our research, whereas today it requires the support of large manufacturing companies, and needs huge investments. Luckily there still exist, within large companies, very talented craftsmen with whom it is easy to work, and that surely helps the research a lot.” Achille Castiglioni

“Italian design, and the one in the furniture sector in particular, is something really special. Something still able, 50 years after its first acclaim, to excite people from all over the world. This is possible thanks to the great passion of the Italian entrepreneurs together with the designers, who face the preparation of an industrial product that is studied not only from a technical-functional point of view but also from the expressive one”. Zanotta

“Ours is a kind of design culture that has not confined itself to this country but has actually expanded out to every single industrialised nation. We have been copied a lot, but what does that matter? This is the best compliment we could have received, because our limit and our dream is to design archetypes.” Vico Magistretti

“Most of my work was inspired by machines, rather than by cars. The mechanical component is in fact the pulsing heart of the object, it is what makes the object work.” Carlo Scarpa

“Carmina Campus does not refuse goods consumption, it rather consumes refused goods. Its research is towards alternative ways to promote a new economy in which every product is created and regenerated in awareness of a planet to be respected and saved from irrecoverable sickness. Each piece is one-off and it is made with reused materials by skilful Italian craftsmen with the same care and attention dedicated to precious materials and to high quality items. Promoting the onset of a new approach to production means first of all changing the way of thinking, which is the only possibility we have to foresee a positive future.” Carmina Campus

“Design is a word with many meanings and misunderstandings. We can better capture the nature of Design in the word “progetto,” especially if we talk about Italian design, because progetto is a word related to life, a word open to people with different skills and dreams, people able to manage details and global processes. Progetto is also a way to say that creativity is everywhere in our life, we just need to follow our intuition and emotions. That is what Italian design is and does, with commitment and hard work. Italian design is the way to better understand life, always looking at the quality of it, trying to make people grow up and feel happy.” Gabriele Pezzini

“In this global society, it is difficult to talk about design as an expression of “Made in Italy” as it was intended in the past. Today, Italian companies work with designers from all over the world. “Made in Italy”, in a strict sense, can still be referred to those artisan realities that are disappearing, realities where design was the result of the work and care of skilled Italian craftsmen. In this respect, we are pleased to mention the work of Pierluigi Ghianda, a cabinetmaker of exceptional talent. In the past, Italian design established a connection between designers and craftsmen, and the relationship was extremely tight. Today, instead, this relationship is lost. Designers such as Castiglioni and Magistretti, who are among the greatest masters of “Made in Italy”, used to design their products thinking about their use, drawing on the shapes that could be found in nature and turning them into icons, conjugating beauty and usefulness.” De Padova

To me, design is not so much the project of a chair, a table, a lamp, a car, as the thought, the corporate vision driving the company through original paths, in search of an element of distinction for its own products. Design means to work in tandem, with the manufacturer and the designer working in harness, side by side, in perfect synchrony. However, the manufacturer always needs to be at the helm, because there can be no successful designer if the manufacturer does not know where to go. “Made in Italy” means a project conceived and realised in Italy. Today, many manufacturers develop their projects in Italy, but have them produced abroad, and yet they label them as “Made in Italy”. I don’t think this is fair. It should be more appropriate, in this case, to say “Created in Italy and Made in…”. Magis, for its part, conceives its projects in Italy and there it produces them. An authentic “Made in Italy” product only should be as such when it brings about distinctive elements and qualities of its own, which can hardly be reproduced elsewhere. This is, to me, the sense of the real ‘Made in Italy.’” Eugenio Perazza – President of Magis

“The winning feature of Italian design is the ability to be “contemporary”, to keep up with the times and also be an example of the times, so that every object becomes an icon and a manifest. The value of Italian design, and of the Italian spirit, lies in the perceived quality of Italian products, which respect a balance between form and expectations: the real goal is to produce an object that “promises a lot” (perceived quality) and “offers still more” (objective quality).” Roberto Giolito – Head of Style Fiat & Abarth Brands

“Evergreen donates character to all environments. Thanks to their sober and elegant design, these five “classical” pieces have survived intact all the changes in fashion and taste of the last fifty years and can be inserted harmoniously in ever-changing – and often distant – surroundings such as the home and the office. The P40 armchair (Osvaldo Borsani, 1955) furnishes all kinds of spaces, homes and museums, private collections and galleries. D70, the divan with movable wings (Osvaldo Borsani, 1954), was designed to satisfy the needs of a customer wanting somewhere to sit and admire the panorama from his window and also to rest in the evenings in front of the fire. Versatility is guaranteed by a mechanism that allows movement of the wings. And the D70 (X Triennale – Diploma d’onore), is still chosen for its beauty and functionality. The PS142 armchairs (Eugenio Gerli, 1966) and Tlinkit (Gae Aulenti, 1991) can be integrated perfectly in the home or even the most modern executive offices. Just as in the new Tecno spaces where the PS142 with Nomos tables (Foster and Partners, 1986), while the shiny lacquered T335 is accompanied by natural rattan Tlinkit chairs. The T1 and T2 side tables (Osvaldo Borsani, 1949-50), are ideal for meeting areas or for the sitting room at home, and are an up to date solution thanks to their clean and modern lines.” Tecno

Laura Giacalone is the Associate Editor of the Italian Journal.