In Martano, in the heart of Salento, talks, workshops, laboratories and the exhibition of the 120 finalist projects for the Agorà Design Contest: four days to think about "hyperlocal" design

«Not a closure, but alook at the details. Which, as dad said, is a main component of planning, fundamental because it allows you to broaden your vision and design well. In a word: the hyperlocal expands its head", says Giovanna Castiglioni, vice-president of the Foundation dedicated to her father Achille Castiglioni, as well as custodian and disseminator of the heritage of ideas and projects left by his father to the world of design.

And, in these days, among the members of the jury and the speakers of Agorà Design 2023 , the biennial ideas competition born in 1996 in Martano, in the province of Lecce, this year dedicated to the theme "Hyperlocal: architecture and design from the territories".</p >

A subject that has stimulated the creativity of more than 200 designers, including students and professionals, from 13 different countries who at the end of July applied with their projects and prototypes for the two sections - “Living” (furnishing accessories, fabrics, coverings, floors) and “Garden”  (daybed, seats and covers) - of the competition.

The contest

«It was not easy to choose the 120 works that reached the final and that we have seen exhibited in recent days in the Baronial palace and in the historic center of Martano» continues Giovanna Castiglioni.

«They are all very valid projects, in which we can see the effort to combine ideas with the skills of the workers of which this area is rich. There is still work to be done, but here is the beating heart of the industries that can believe in young designers and Agorà Design - which is a competition but also an event - it is an excellent starting point and a precious opportunity for exchange.

Even between different cultural contexts, as we have seen this year: if, for example, in Puglia the theme of the olive tree and the preservation of wood tormented by strong>Xylella (several designers have used this material, together with Salento stone and local fabrics), the works coming from countries such as Colombia, Turkey, India naturally draw on "their hyperlocal".

We need to ensure that these projects can go across and come back like boomerangs." As Achille Castiglioni said: "If you are not interested in others, the profession of designer is not for you."

The companies

The aim of the event which for four days animated Martano with thousands of people including students, professionals, visitors and journalists, is above all to fill the words "local" with meaning and “global”.

By starting a dialogue between industrial and artisanal production, between designers and companies, in order to contribute to the development of a territory. «And to the quality of life of those who live there» adds Lucia Rescio, president of the Agorà Design Association and general manager of Sprech, an award-winning company venue founded in the 1980s from an intuition of Pasquale Rescio (the founding father, now CEO) specialized in the creation of modular roofs, pergolas, gazebos, dehors and eco-sustainable structures for glamping, main sponsor of the event with Achille Castiglioni Foundation, ADI – Association for industrial design and Order of Architects (and with specialized publications such as Interni among the media partners).

«Agorà Design is an event that has its roots in the South but also an invitation for those who participate to take part in the discussion, the exchange of ideas, the experimentation for a collective growth that knows no boundaries. There is a very simple thought behind it: for companies operating in the field of design and architecture, implementing the research and development sector has become indispensable.

But evaluating original projects, developing innovative products and acquiring qualified workers requires time and dedication. Agorà Design is the synthesis of this continuous need for research."

And, to set a good example, since 2017 Sprech has selected some projects in competition to transform them into prototypes and include them in the catalogue, activating the virtuous circle that transforms the idea into a project and the project into a product.

The awards ceremony

After four days of debates and workshops, but also jazz concerts and tastings of oil, wine, cheeses and other excellent products from Salento, on Sunday 1 October the awards ceremony for the winners of Agorà Design took place. 2023: eight projects chosen by the jury made up of Giuseppe Scaglione, Francesca Tosi, Giovanna Castiglioniand Francesco Zurlo.

Here are the winners

For the Living section, the winners were “Linfa - The rest that nourishes the soul” by Davide Decarli in collaboration with Pecore Attive (also winner of the MAXXI – Interior Design award, partner of Agorà Design); “Hydria” by Tommaso Schiuma, in collaboration with Progetto ArteSnc, and “Fragment” by Simona De Fazio together with Carmen Carugno, in collaboration with Level Project and Vincenzo Del Monaco.

Among the students, Searamic was awarded, a self-designed object by Giulio Bragagnolo and Paolo Sgarzi. For the Garden section the projects “Felicità” by the Colombian designer Samuel David Silva Batista, Apulia by were awarded DanieleCicero and Driades by Francesco Fontanella and Maria Kassola.

Among the students' projects, Sicq by Ludovica Quarta won. Not just a simple recognition because the projects in the Garden section will be transformed into prototypes that we will see on display at the next edition. Special mention, finally, for the "Corner Lamp" by Andrea Arciuolo in collaboration with Officina Fratelli Navacchi, for the recovery of wood 'olive.

The appointment is in 2025, therefore, following the appeal of Giovanna Castiglioni who underlines a simple concept: Design is not only done in Milan: even the suburbs can be a driving force of culture and architecture, with a point of seen on a daily basis «because here they know how to build the things they need».

Photo credits: Mirror40