“Design culture. No one in the world is like Brianza”

Architect, designer, entrepreneur: Giulio Cappellini was awarded the Compasso d’Oro for his career at the Adi Museum in Milan

A personal reading of the phenomena of design and support for many young talents are the reasons for the prestigious Compasso d’oro for Lifetime Achievement received by Giulio Cappellini, architect, designer and entrepreneur, last Monday at the Adi Design Museum in Milan.

An award for a work that has some of its roots in Brianza and is projected out into the world: Is there really a uniqueness in the territories on the border between Milan and Como?

80% of the design industry belongs to Brianza, which is Como, Cantù, Meda or Lentate, does not change. This is a basic pool for the skills and ideas developed here. The main industries are in this field. In the world there are other important realities, in the USA, Germany, Japan and Northern Europe, but it is no coincidence that for young foreign designers, the dream is to design for an Italian company, yes, Brianza.

The Made in Italy flavor continues to exert a strong attraction in the world.

We must, of course, thank the industry, but also the craftsmanship that must be cherished and in truth is the factor that characterizes our products. A machine can work in the same way in Tokyo as in Cantù, but the human hand is a very high value that must be preserved.

What is this set of talents that can only be found in the Italian furniture district?

There is a culture that one breathes into Brianza from an early age, an atmosphere of a shop that makes you grow as an entrepreneur, worker or advertiser, but it is an “infection” that unites the people who grow and working these places. In fact, between Como, Cantù, Monza and Milan there is a very high density of artisanal and industrial production: within 10 kilometers it is possible to solve any technical problem related to wood, aluminum or plastic. It is an extraordinarily productive substance and a common, very practical approach to problems. We can also design a project, but then there must be someone who understands it and who knows how to prototype it. We need specialists who are able to interpret the designer’s ideas and translate them into a product. It is an important role that requires expertise, sensitivity and experience.

Dissemination of knowledge, generational change of workers and the search for new staff are topics on the agenda and difficult to solve, how do you make crafts attractive to young people?

The wooden furniture training center in Lentate sul Seveso promises well because it has a significant number of members. Of course, designers and architects are important, but it is above all the craftsmanship that must be preserved, also in its specializations. Previously, the choice was to introduce young people to subjects that did not require manual knowledge and now we lack the art of the subject because a carver, for example, is not a simple worker, he is an artist.

Precisely to extend the education to all profiles in the sector, an address is being opened for upholsterers in Lentate, because it is a very important area for Brianza and it seems to me that among the very young at the moment there is a different attention and interest than a few years ago. I see in them a great desire to learn and great professionalism.

Salone del Mobile in Milan has just finished, what interest trends have you recognized?

I followed the preparation of the Ceramica Flaminia booth and I noticed that this edition of Design Week had a higher response than expected. Italian creativity was rewarded.

We have seen the market change geographically: if the reference for exports used to be Europe, they are now Asia and America, and the products manufactured for these markets are on a larger scale. In fact, we have seen large living rooms for important spaces. In Europe, an average table can be 1.50 meters long, in Asia 3.5 meters. There is also great attention to the use of materials, for finishes with new textures, from textiles to wood. But in general, as today, everything from pure forms to the most ornate never works, also because the end customer is freer and likes to mix.

What are the reasons why you have been awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award?

I prefer to work on the company’s global project, moreover I like working in a team and over time I have sought collaborations all over the world with little known and new young people who have become important. I was recognized as a talent scout, and it is perhaps this element that made the difference, as an art director who likes to stimulate talents and make them grow.

What is the project that is now on your table?

The pandemic has accelerated profound processes of change. Smart work has changed the home, but also the offices that used to be black and white boxes and today are an extension of living spaces with natural materials, warm colors and flexible spaces. Travel has also changed and hotels are no longer just the place for vacations but also where to do business. It is a moment of great stimulus for those who design.

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