THE ITALIAN WAY
Italians, population of saints, poets and navigators. This is a definition that we often hear. Saints aside, in effect Italians are always distinguished by their creativity and their desire for understanding, all this is part of the artistic side inserted in our DNA in that it is really curiosity that has brought us to discover not only new worlds, but also to conceive extraordinary inventions in support of all fields including the important medical ones. A long time has passed since the definition was coined and the course of the world through the centuries has naturally been great and varied. In Italy, with its post–war industrial development, this evolution has been accelerated to allow enormous steps over a relatively brief time compared with those made before. The change is evident above all from the way people live and interpret life; it started at first in a less striking way to then gain ever more momentum. It came to pass by being assisted by a new way of thinking about production and creating a real industrial culture. This new culture has brought about a growth in industrial projects and therefore in the development of Italian design; the latter covered the 20th century leaving an indelible mark on the way in which the shape of everyday objects was perceived by contemporary industrial society. Thanks to this “Italian way”, industry has also innovated technologically developing an independent and many-sided design culture that married rich the craft traditions of the country with the desire for modernity along with a lively bent for experimentation. In this sense Italian design is the cultural phenomenon that has combined the synergies between artistic experimentation and innovative design that characterised all of the 20th century. To have concrete examples, it is enough to remember the names of some professionals that have created our design history, like Castiglioni, Mendini, Magistretti, De Lucchi, Scarpa, Sottsass and many others, who often worked with close links to other businesses for the specific development of innovative products. Projects that are still recognised for their value were born from these collaborations. The topic of innovation and experimentation is today a subject that is ever more important in that the key to success for the enterprises resides ever less in the control of production technologies, but always more in the capacity to create value through innovative aspects. Product innovation, not only technical but also stylistic, formal, conceptual, is in fact today the element recognised as providing greater results in commercial terms. Therefore, design at this historic time has a decisive importance not only in the results it produces in product terms, but also in the formation of business strategy. With the progressive extension of their own abilities from the field of industrial products to those of publicity, infrastructure and services, designers find themselves facing, even in these new sectors, the problem of the synthesis between function and aesthetics that has always been an intrinsic and recognised characteristic of “Made in Italy” products. Italian design, as we know, has had recognised success on the international level. Because of this interest, it has been necessary in fact to create well-constructed research facilities, experiments and training that involves university departments, faculties and courses for first degrees, specialists and masters dedicated to design. This cultural propensity for design is typically Italian for its specialist nature on various levels and its well-structured “disciplines” that are not easily found in other European and world contexts, and this is demonstrated by the growing presence of thousands of students from Italy and all over the world within the specialist academies. With such an important situation that id developing in many areas of the faculties that are considered historic in the discipline of design and represent a beacon that shines on the international level, I wonder: “Why not create now an important reference centre related to design also in Friuli-Venezia Giulia?” This can be done through university courses for achieving a degree in design that are not however only packaged dispensers of theories, even if these are of great importance, but implemented by contacts with industrial reality. It would suffice to involve entrepreneurs and other people who have created contemporary industrial history with their abilities, always reporting on the connection of their company’s production to research in the design sector. This relationship is important and necessary for also giving serious and targeted information to the student about the situation in the world of work for him to understand its problems and so be able to approach them with his own constructive contribution. In this way we can think of developing a new professional figure to perform the specific role of designer. I consider that, as just mentioned, it should have been already implemented long ago to give our young new work outlets with extremely useful specific skills in the design sector for planning the evolution of the production future of Friuli.
Fabio Di Bartolomei