The role of design from the post-war period to today

To have the ability and strength to move forward and imagine the future. An effort that is so much the harder in times of crisis (and war), but so much the more important to get out of it quickly.

Achille and Pier Giacomo Castiglioni, Cesare Paolini, Mario Bellini, Gae Aulenti, Ettore Sottsass, Gaetano Pesce, Alberto Rosselli, Marco Zanuso and Richard Sapper, Archizoom, Superstudio, Ugo La Pietra, Gruppo Strum and 9999. They were the authors of the works in the catalog for the exhibition ‘The New Domestic Landscape’ at MoMA in New York, curated by Emilio Ambasz. That was 50 years ago. It was 1972. Italian design was born. Consequence of the desire to respond to the post-World War II economic depression, the result of the ability and courage to innovate and move forward. Today, the situation is different, but not unequal in some respects. A pandemic and a war at the gates, which we inevitably perceive as ‘at home’, an energy crisis that sees few precedents in history, makes us embrace a new transition phase, where design is called to give a new shape and voice, to beauty . . The Symbola Foundation, Deloitte Private and Polidesign, in collaboration with Adi, Logotel, Cuid, Comieco and AlmaLaurea, outline the situation.

First of all, it must be said that the sector in Italy has 30,000 companies capable of generating 2.5 billion euros in added value and employs 61,000 people. 60.4% of the design companies are located in Lombardy, Piedmont, Emilia Romagna and Veneto, which generates 68.5% of the added value and absorbs 64.7% of the employees in the sector. The brother part is made of Milan and Lombardy. In addition, the capital of Lombard is also home to the Salone del Mobile and Fuorisalone. Most design companies and professionals are located here. Milan is allocated 14.8% of the total number of Italian companies in the sector. From the value point of view, companies in the province of Milan are able to generate almost a fifth (18.4%) of the wealth that the sector produces on its own throughout the country. Turin, Rome and Bologna follow from a distance.

Having crystallized this rapid picture, it is easy to imagine the role of companies in the ecological transformation path that the country is going through, if nothing else for their ability to not only innovate (process and product), but to look beyond and move a slightly beyond the horizon. He explains it well Ermete RealacciChairman of Symbola Foundation, and notes that “design is again called for to give shape, meaning and beauty to the future. Many aspects of our lives, as well as many sectors, will change, from the transformation of mobility into shared, interconnected and electrical models. “to the decarbonisation processes and the circular economy that are changing industrial and supply chain conditions and arriving at products that, in a context of increasingly scarce resources, will necessarily have to be redesigned to be more durable, repairable, reconditionable, reusable”. He does not hesitate to remember, Realacci, the “new European Bauhaus” launched by the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, in 2020. our economy and our society more on a human scale and therefore more capable of the future ” . Now that the Italian industrial structure consists mainly of SMEs, it is easy to imagine the limits and advantages of this industrial model in relation to the energy transition and the role of design in imagining the future. On the one hand, small and medium-sized enterprises are characterized by a structural lack of economic and financial resources, but also by knowledge. Now the challenges of decarbonization, renewable energy, waste management, development of new circular business models require strategic capacity, specific investments and specialized skills. However, the authors of the research point out that Italian small and medium-sized enterprises are aware of the field and are stakeholders in the companies operating in it. And here lies a central passage: “Italian industry has a circularity rate of 50%. In the typical sectors of made in Italy, and therefore fashion, food and furniture, what has been the source of a competitive advantage for years, namely a quality production , able to combine tradition and innovation, today may no longer be sufficient to meet the new needs and demands of the market from new generations of customers “. In short, Italian SMEs in the sector must learn to process the transition.

In particular, there are three recurring words that represent the pillars on which all future strategies, including communication, must be built: sustainability, reduction and recycling. Looking at the next three-year period 2022-2024, the weight in the design of the durability component will remain almost unchanged (+0.3 percentage points in the three-year period), attention to reduction and recycling will grow by 5% and possibly. regeneration will exceed 8%. It is an awareness that responds to a global attitude towards the issue of repairability or regeneration of products, which has become a clear focus in the communication of all brands and in particular of those who are most aware of design (also because it is a direct consequence of well thought out). Even Apple, whose products have always been synonymous with non-repairability (if not through repurchase and resale of the brand itself), has recently changed course, which has obviously given in to pressure from users who are most interested in the environment. From 2022, anyone will be able to repair (some items) a group of Apple products using original parts sold by the parent company. Even recycling is seen with less and less suspicion by companies. This is done with the low end with second hand (with the Second Life program, Ikea buys back its furniture and gives in exchange coupons to buy new ones in its store), but also with the phenomenon Pre-Loved for the most well-known brands (such as Artek 2nd Cycle, which involves the discovery and resale of historical parts of the brand).

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