1 February 2007

In Turin, design becomes supreme [La Repubblica]

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Torino World Design Capital 2008
Next year, Turin will be World Design Capital. Yesterday, the event was officially presented. Below is (my) translation of an article/interview, written by Marina Paglieri and published today in La Repubblica newspaper. If you want to find out more, you can download an English press kit (pdf, 64 kb, 5 pages).

In less than a year, Turin will be the first World Capital of Design. The countdown has started. Mayor Sergio Chiamparino said during a crowded presentation at the Sandretto Re Rebaudengo auditorium that the event will be a “precise and concrete metaphor for the future opportunities of the city.” An opportunity but also a challenge, because Torino will be the inaugural city of the event, that thereafter will be awarded every two years to cities around the world. Presenting it yesterday were Peter Zec, president of ICSID (International Council of Societies of Industrial Design, the organisation which promoted the initiative and the nomination of Turin), Carlo Forcolini, president of ADI (the Italian Industrial Design Association), and the members of the Advisory Committee, who met yesterday for the first time to discuss goals and programme plans. They are the acclaimed designer Gillo Dorfles, the architect and critic Enrico Morteo, Guta Moura Guedes, founder of a Lisbon-based association that promotes design culture, and Michael Thomson, future president of BEDA (Bureau of European Design Associations). Also speaking was Giuliano Molineri, former right hand of Giorgetto Giugiaro, general manager (for nearly twenty years) of Giugiaro Design, and currently board member of ICSID and the “spiritual force” behind Turin’s year of design.

Giuliano Molineri, why is Turin World Capital of Design?
“One has to go back a bit. In 2003 our city presented its candidacy, as did 35 other cities, to host the ICSID headquarters. In the end Montreal was selected, but Turin made a big impression through its focus on design as a tool for transformation and socio-economic change. This lead to the idea of nominating the city as the first world capital of the sector: there will be other cities in the future, and they will not be selected from those that are already known design cities, such as Barcelona or Milan, but from those that are in the process of transformation.”

Precisely on that point, Gillo Dorfles said that Milan has always been seen as Italy’s design capital, even if it lost some points recently. Turin had the car, but was not able to diversify and promote other sectors. It will have to do that now, but how?
“It it true. Turin and the region of Piedmont are known worldwide for Giugiaro and Pininfarina, but less for other design excellence. This will be the opportunity to make them more known, with major international promotion. During the 2008 events, Turin will present itself as a project-oriented city, which is able to manage a productive process, thanks to its major industrial history. There is a breeding ground here, a humus, a district of companies and technologies that cannot be found anywhere else [in Italy]. There is the automotive sector, but also aeronautics, airplane design, the growing ITC sector with its focus on wireless, electronics, robotics and component design. And there is production also in many other sectors.”

Some examples?
“There are many to be sold. From home product design, with important companies such as Alessi, Girmi, Bialetti, Lagostina, to textile with Borsalino, Zegna, Piacenza, Loro Piana, Miroglio and Basicnet. From alimentary machinery to food and wine culture, with companies such as Martini, Lavazza and Ferrero. And let’s not forget boating, with the major presence of Azimut, second producer in the world of yachts longer than 28 metres. Or the cinema, from set design to the virtual. Today creativity is translated not just in products, but also in relationships and in communication. And design should be enlarged to a discourse on processes that produce design. I think of [the Turin neighbourhood of] the Quadrilatero Romano, where the original bars and restaurants lead to new connections and meetings, or of a chef like Davide Scabin of Combal.0, who had himself design the plates and the food containers. That and more will be on show next year.”

Will there be competition with Milan?
“No, there is a strong feeling of collaboration. Some people from Milan will be presenting events here. We will need to see how the two cities can best work together on this. Milan has extraordinary strengths in the design of furniture, lighting and fashion, and hosts an international reference point like the Triennale. But now Turin has also joined the design path.”

Is there already a programme of events?
“We will present it in April in Milan, during the Furniture Fair. I can tell you that the event will start around mid-December this year. There will be an exhibition, at a location to be determined, of the objects that have received a Compasso d’oro award, an international competition for young creative people, and a series of activities aimed at the broad population, with a particular focus on students. The events will revolve around some key milestones, such as the opening of the new Automobile Museum and the inauguration at the end of 2008 of the Design Center of Mirafiori.”

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