Documento senza titolo


Alberto Bassi


A conclusive and synthetic contribution to the works of the EDF Symposium must necessarily examine several of the emerging characteristics and issues of contemporary design which, though it must work within a global cultural and market approach, has a vital need to protect or to build (re-build) a specific methodological and disciplinary horizon, as well as a local identity, both national and European.
Over the past two days a number of useful and important issues have emerged that can help to focus the theory and practice of design within a context like the one we must deal with today, influenced internationally by radical economic, social and cultural transformations: some concern the relationship with the market and the organization of production; others involve new consumer trends; others again have to do with the role and significance of design itself.
And in a way that is different from the past, the production of artifacts within the contemporary ‘economics of symbolism’ involves a variety of subjects, each according to his own specific characteristics and skills, from the manufacturer to communication to distribution.


Based on these premises, this lecture has been divided into two parts, each of them related from a different point of view. The first deals with and reflects upon several issues that arose from the two intense days of work; the second provides a synthesis of several elements concerning the history and the current state of Italian industrial design, which I think may be considered a paradigm for understanding the future of European design in a globalized context. The Italian example and model appear particularly significant, and strictly related to Europe, because of the common identity towards a quality project (perhaps not always on the question of quantity), and also because in Italy, within the context of internationalized labour, there are many European designers at work who find the ideal conditions for their design expressions and intentions in its cultural and productive context.

Over the past two days, a variety of issues has come under consideration: the relationship between design, manufacturer, business and market; the increasing importance of public relations issues, involving the product and the overall design system; the impact of design on the environment, city and public spaces; design in relation to the places where it is taught, and where its history and memory are conserved, protected and cultivated.
The lecture by Koenraad Debackere proved particularly interesting. In dealing with the relationship between design and innovation, he raised the interesting question of how technological innovation prevails, though it is not always followed by a corresponding design innovation. What then do we mean by innovation? It can be typological, functional, esthetic, or related to use; at times there is a risk, however, of confusing it with fashion, or the search for something new at all costs.

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Design Management
VIZO Workshop

“Design makes the Difference”
Brussels, Belgium - 29/30 November 2002

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