Yesterday 6 November afternoon, at the ADI Design Museum in Milan, the ADI Design Index 2023, the volume that condenses the best of of Italian design.
The selection competes, together with last year's shortlist, for the 28th edition of the Compasso d'Oro, the coveted biennial recognition born in 1954 from an idea by Gio Ponti, an award that in 2024 he turns seventy.
For the ADI Design Index 2023 there are219 projects entered into production in 2022, divided as follows:
- Design for living (46 products)
- Lighting design (18)
- Design for work (23)
- Design of materials and technological systems (17)
- Design for the person (15)
- Social design (12)
- Theoretical, historical, critical research and editorial projects (17)
- Design for communication (16)
- Exhibition design (16)
- Research for business (14)
- Design for mobility (10)
- Food Design (7)
- Service design (8)
Added to these are 19 projects by students of Italian design universities competing for the Targa Young.
Among the personalities who attended the presentation were Luciano Galimberti and Antonella Andriani, respectively president and vice-president of the ADI, Umberto Cabini, president of the ADI Collezione Foundation Compasso d'Oro, Laura Traldi and Francesco Zurlo of the scientific committee of the ADI Permanent Design Observatory, the body that conducts the meticulous selection throughout Italy through three selection phases, to ensure in-depth reflection on the qualities of each candidate product.
The quality is premium
The key word around which the ADI Design Index 2023 revolves is quality - design, production, manufacturing, processes - as Luciano Galimberti writes in the catalogue, "quality as distinctive and structural factor of sustainable and responsible development, quality as a connector present in the entire Italian design chain: central nucleus around which to conceive and develop innovative ideas to combine functionality and well-being. Quality no longer as a final objective, but asrecognition of a method".
ADI Design Index 2023: the selected projects
“It will be enough for you to take a quick look at the initial part of the book to notice how, especially in furnishings, there are no revolutionary products”, underlines during her speech Laura Traldi, editorial curator of internimagazine.it and member of the scientific committee of the ADI Permanent Design Observatory, specifying how it is a physiological fact in a mature sector such as furniture.
“There are, however, many proposals which – perhaps for a detail, for the particular use of a material or for a manufacturing choice – push the world of design forward in some way. There are seats that embody new business models, such as the Oto Chair by Alessandro Stabile and Martinelli Venezia for One To One.
There are totally single-material ones that have a double function, like Aka by Konstantin Grcic for Magis, which is part chair and part stool. There are armchairs, such as Flutz by Michael Anastassiades for Cassina, which reach 90% disassembly with a view to greater reparability and efficient disposal at the end of life".
It is impossible to mention all the projects selected for the ADI Design Index 2023, which are on display until November 19th at the ADI Design Museum in Piazza Compasso d'Oro 1 in Milan, before landing in Rome , from 27 November to 2 December in the WeGil Cultural Hub space of the Lazio Region managed by LAZIOcrea in Largo Ascianghi 5.
Among the furnishings competing for the Compasso d'Oro is the Za:za sofa by Zaven for Zanotta which traces a new way of designing the sofa, with a construction system inspired by the principle of the hammock, with armrest, backrest and seat cushions that are fitted like a tailored suit on the metal skeleton. There is also the new Riciclantica Outline by Valcucine, designed by Gabriele Centazzo, a modular solution made up of functional blocks that can be combined together, thanks to suspended elements, to be configured according to needs.
For lighting: Chiaroscura by Alberto and Francesco Meda for Foscarini, the floor lamp that reinterprets the luminator , capable of illuminating not only upwards, but at 360 degrees; To Tie by Guglielmo Poletti for Flos, a table lamp made up of elements reduced to a minimum, held together only by mechanical tension, without screws, glues or solders; and Mini Geen-A by Ferruccio Laviani for Kartell, the reinvention of the reading lamp, a familiar object with a handle to easily transport it everywhere .
For design for mobility, Thefalcon, the bike created with 3D printing by Romolo Stanco for the company White, customizable based on information about the cyclist (physical and movement characteristics, needs and performance) thanks to adaptive design.
For Design of materials and technological systems, Mathera by Diego Grandi for Saib Egger Group, a solid, compact and ecological surface, in which a thin layer of wood powders, stone and quartz coming from processing waste, mixed with resinous binders, covers a panel produced using exclusively end-of-life wood.
The ADI Design Index rewards sustainability, the real one
“Sustainability is now firmly at the center of every project”, continues Laura Traldi, “with companies concretely committed to the transition towards greener production, obtained thanks to increasingly systemic approaches (and therefore more impactful in the long term)”.
A true sustainability, the one awarded by the ADI Design Index 2023, verified through scrupulous investigative work: "We requested clarifications and specifications to avoid unpleasant cases of greenwashing”, adds Laura Traldi.
Design as inclusiveness
Among the key words indicated to us by Francesco Zurlo, dean of the School of Design of the Polytechnic of Milan and member of the scientific committee of the ADI Permanent Design Observatory, there is inclusivity >: “Design is increasingly inclusive and it is so across multiple project objects. Just to cite a few examples: Cancellato Uniform, a revolutionary idea that only works on 3 sizes, changes the business model to make the fashion sector more sustainable, uses advanced production technologies.
The Turin collective Hackability, which rewards a degree thesis from the Polytechnic of Turin, Dobby, a useful and universal tool for kitchen work; always the same collective that offers a hotel management system, Sherlock, which guides the visually impaired in the use of common spaces and hotel rooms.
And then the guys from Isinnova: with Letizia, a prosthesis made for amputees – referring to the disastrous war in Ukraine – which costs ten times less than a traditional prosthesis.
These are all products designed for inclusion and made with 3D printing technologies. Inclusion with the use of technology - sensors and accelerometers - for the Future Age femur-saving belt - for senior citizens, active users of urban places, for a safe silver walkability.
Or integrated solutions - from layout to home automation systems - in Home Care Design research for Parkinson's patients. Finally, just to mention another case, a social innovation project that focuses on intergenerational relationships, such as BIG, the Intergenerational Village of Greco di AB Città”.
Design as involvement
“Another key word of the ADI Design Index 2023 is involvement, but engagement sounds better in English, even engagement in Italian has something military about it”, continues Francesco Zurlo.
"What is it about? To what extent and how design can be functional in involving the people of an organization towards shared goals. In relation to the theme of Sustainability, the work of Nicoletta Crisponi for Lifegate Way, with Sustainability 10 cum laude which uses design thinking to guide everyone towards participatory sustainability goals.
The business research highlights this aspect, presenting an operational area of design which is currently seminal but which shows good growth opportunities.
See Amploom, promoted by women (mainly) who deal with service design, which directly addresses eFM's human resources managers to create a Cadidate Experience Hub, a WS useful for defining and aligning soft skills.
Or Oblo for Doctors Without Borders with Maximizer, also useful for defining the common purpose. And again Polaris for Loccioni, or Digital Experience by Talent Garden to offer services beyond a simple desk to coworkers".
Not just objects: design of services, for society and communication
Not only objects but also services, online platforms and apps among the choices of the ADI Design Index 2023. Among these, Platform, created by Dotdotdot for the Luigi Rovati Foundation: an integrated digital system for the Foundation's new art museum, with audio guide apps capable of geolocating visitors and providing information before, during and after the visit, to facilitate the digital management of the museum (ticket office, online shop, sensors), controlling public flows and monitoring environmental information.
Among the projects selected in the Design for social category is Nolo ricycla, the result of the collaborative work of Stefano strong> Castiglioni, Sebastiano Ercoli and Alessandro Garlandini for ilVespaio: associations, bars and restaurants in Nolo become centers of collection of boxes, caps and packaging; thanks to the involvement of local artisans and suppliers, the waste is transformed into displays and furnishings for the schools in the neighborhood and to improve the spaces of the Municipal Market in viale Monza and the former boarding school of the Trotter Park.
In the Design for communication category there are numerous theatrical initiatives: such as the promotion of the 2022-23 season of the Piccolo Teatro di Milan, curated by Leftloft, with show posters, social communications and merchandising animated by encyclopedic illustrations alongside modernist typography with unexpected proportions and evocative images that refer to what will happen on stage; and the restyling of the coordinated image of the Teatro alla Scala in Milan, which after fifty years has redone its look with the same communication and relies on Tomo Tomo , a graphic design studio that worked on the new identity of the theatre, on the art direction of the season's campaign and all the editorial products in the name of tradition and with great respect for the Milanese institution founded in 1778, restoring clarity and consistency.
In exhibition design, the installation by Baldessari and Baldessari for That Remains of the Present, the exhibition of GianluigiColin's works, curated by Achille Bonito Oliva, conceived for the spaces of the Church of Sant' Agostino in Piacenza, where the maxi Impronte canvases - cleaning materials for newspaper and book printing presses - are placed exactly where the sixteenth-century altarpieces used to be, evoking the rituality of sacred functions and at the same time the movement of the flows of newspapers coming out of the newspaper presses.
Among the 17 choices of the ADI Design Index 2023 for Theoretical, historical, critical research and editorial projects, there is Simple formalities by Giulio Iacchetti, published by Johan & Levi Editore, a book in which the author-designer does justice to humble yet useful objects, from Monopoly pawns to the ice cream stick, protagonists of daily life and memories.
Among the volumes also named The State of Things by Chiara Alessi, published by Longanesi, a century of history of the Italian Republic told by following and weaving together the stories of the objects and of those who thought of them, created them, used them, and of the country that lived in them.
And again: XXX-Y 30 years of Fuorisalone by INTERNI published by Electa (art direction Christoph Radl, graphic design Eleonora Sicolo), the volume thattells the birth of the FuoriSalonein 1990 by order of Gilda Bojardi and the magazine INTERNI, a review of over a thousand images, with the memories and projects of more than 2,500 characters and the most memorable events.
Added to the over two hundred selected projects are the 19 proposals from students from Italian design universities competing for the Targa Giovani.
Among these, Care idea: bike pack, backpack by Paolo Giancarlo Sesana, student of the Polytechnic of Milan, a bicycle rescue bag that can be transformed into a backpack, lightweight, made up of three modules (with a total volume of 45 litres) which, when folded over, allow you to change the configuration from bike pack to backpack , simply by pulling a string.
“Among the 19 selections for Targa Giovani there are few associated traditional products and a lot of research and experimentation”, underlines Francesco Zurlo.
“There is a lot of entrepreneurship: a configuration of technologies that discover new meanings and intercept new needs. I would also say a planning hope, which comes precisely from the younger generations, in times that do not promise anything good".
Young people and women: the forgotten greats
If the ADI gives space to students with the Targhe Giovani, in the world of design companies increasingly rely on the big names of the project, leaving little space for emerging creatives and women, and companies capable of proposing the most innovative solutions are mainly located in the North of the country.
“There is a need for more widespread promotion and more in-depth scouting work”, comments Laura Traldi, “personally I also think through more popular means, more within everyone's reach, less 'institutional' at first sight but more emotionally engaging especially for those who design intelligent solutions but outside those terrains traditionally trodden by those who do design".
Cover photo: © Roberto De Riccardis