2. Being a country with a naturally developing agriculture, it was difficult for Italy to keep up with the industrial development of its northern neighbors. The Italians chose to strengthen their industrial north, to improve the infrastructure, to set up communication with the adjacent countries and to promote Italian culture and fashion. And the strategy is paying off very well. Today, Italy is among the market leaders in the production of machinery, household appliances, cars, motorcycles, scooters, yachts, motor boats and other means of transport, along with construction and finishing materials, from ceramic tiles to ultramodern polymeric materials, from aluminum structural shapes and glass facades to door, windows and architectural hardware. And, of course, Italians are acknowledged trendsetters not only in prêt-a-porter, but in our everyday wear too.
5. Even in process of training the students enthusiastically offer themselves to potential employers, they save up experience and authority by participating in various exhibitions and contests. The second step of Italian design promotion is the active demonstration of the abilities of the talented new generation. There are many student contests and events where the audience can see the works’ high level of professionalism. Italians always take the leading positions.
6. International exhibitions are a whole different topic. Italians organize them in Italy and in many other countries. The industry of the country was not always well bested, for example in the middle of the last century the furniture manufacture was noticeably behind the northern colleagues, the Scandinavians in particular. The perennial traditions were a heavy burden and stopped this field from developing. The skilled craftsmen weren’t eager to produce modern fashionable furniture, holding to the classical styles. The founder of “Domus” magazine, a well-known architect and designer, Joe Ponti put an end to this stagnation. He said: “Scandinavia could reach the same heights in design as Switzerland in the production of watches because its manufacturers forge ahead and keep up with time. As long as we keep producing the past or copying the present, Italy will never get out of the depression. To make a statement, our fabrics should turn to modern design and collaborate with architects. Only together they can achieve anything”. The call was heard and very quickly perspective, bright and bold ideas occupied the minds of designers and manufacturers. The number of fashionable furniture fabrics increased and they participated in many international exhibitions, demonstrating their opportunities and the daring approach to the challenges. So, Italy made a huge step forward from past to future without hesitating in the present. In 1961 the first international furniture exhibition “I Saloni Milano” took place on the territory of “Fiera Milano”. In the past similar events took place only in Paris and Cologne. It was the thin end of the wedge and after a while the exhibition was divided into two parts, for the first time. The first part was given to examples of the classical style; the second one was dedicated to the experimental search for new forms. The latter attracted most of the visitors, journalists, critics, young designers. In the end it became the symbol of the new epoch. Today “I Saloni Milano” is a peculiar tryout of new ideas and tendencies, a search of new ways of development, a means of defining the level of the models’ applicability. What we see on the stands today, is what will be on-sale at best in a year or so. But the items are guaranteed to be popular and style setting.
9. Unlike the objects that are collapsing under the influence of time and becoming outdated, a brand can exist for a long time and may be passed on from father to son. Recently the world has been seized by brand-mania, the logos of manufacturing companies and fashion houses have moved on from the informational field to the area of decor, often covering the surface of a product entirely. And a very big role in this process is played by the Italian concerns. For example, leather products and accessories are an Italian trademark. The centuries-old traditions allow the local experts of the trade to name themselves the best in the world, and it is indeed so. A whole set of factories is engaged in tailoring of modern leather bags of the highest manufacture made exclusively in the countries of Europe (it is considered that that the conditions of animal cultivation in Asia are insufficiently comfortable and, as a result, leather from Turkey, for example, is of low quality). But very few foreigners know such brands like «Francesco Biasia», «Tosca Blu», «Mazzini», as the make products for internal use only with accurately verified price-quality parity. «Gucci», «Stefanel», «Krizia», «Etro», «Prada» are intended for export and their cost either does not correspond with quality, or is astronomically high. But they are a brand, a symbol of the owner’s success and prosperity; people pay three times the price for the logo on the surface of a piece. It is an example of another way to sell «the Italian design». The Italian manufacturers involve professionals from all over the world to strengthen brands’ influence on the buyer and to expand the sales area.
11. The formula «historical cultural heritage + education + competitions + exhibitions + mass-media + manufacturers and brands» has been created for prosperity of a great country. It is possible to say a lot more about the phenomenon of Italian design, one may study each link of this chain separately, to search for fine, almost inaudible signs of destiny, luck or something intangible that surrounds this romantic image, but in the heart of it lies the accurate understanding that all of this is serious laborious work. The Italians achieve their common cause together, and go on with this selfless and sincere labour.
Mezonin Magazine, OCT 2006
DP Furniture Magazine, NOV