A Design Studio to the Faculty of Design - Polytechnic of Milan

Conference: 

Discipline: 

Product & Industrial Design

Keywords: 

  • design history, design knowledge, handicrafts

In order to understand the origin and the development of the Italian designer's training, it is crucial to show the industrial and cultural context of this country, which made the 'Made in Italy' successful.

Products nature is certainly what has mainly contributed to such success, but product is only the output of an original industrial structure, as Italy was different from other countries with the same economic development: it has taken up a production system going by routes different from the big industry - economies of scale, standardization, serialization.

The reasons for this difference depend on handicraft shop tradition, typical of Italian economy until the second post-war period, in which a shop started to expand, becoming a small 'firm' with a family management. These firms, thanks to their nature, were characterised by high specializations in several production divisions. Peculiarities that brought a production area to success, but reductive if they were not linked to other specializations/production systems. It was thanks to this reasoning that a network of firms came out, joining several specific competences to obtain highly innovative products.

The traditional handicraft skills, besides leaving a high specialization, contributed to the origin of Italian industrial sectors. This was due to the development of Italian handcraft culture, according to which requirements, raw materials and geographic characteristics of some specific areas, as a result of some specialized sectors, turned into industrial sectors like furnishing, footwear, textiles, machine tools, household appliances, mechanical engineering and so on.

After the second post-war period, Italian industry developed, thanks to the demand of goods that the middle class, very careful of their image, requested. The kinds of goods requested are related to house, as furnishing and household appliances, fashion, specially footwear and clothes, transport - we can mention, as regards this period, the creation of Vespa Piaggio, as a symbol of Italian design. These examples, characterised by an evident relation among project, technique and production, came out and developed in industrial contexts with different production and market structures, are the origin of the 'Made in Italy'.

Please note: This paper was not submitted to a Peer Review process after the conference.

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