There are many ways to explain history, depending on the responsibility we take on it. And the history of design is no exception

* Luciano Galimberti, president of ADI - Associazione per il Disegno Industriale

There are many ways to explain history and the history of design is no exception. History can be more or less dedicated to insiders, more or less self-referential in language, more or less assertive. The choice depends on the responsibility you intend to assume.

The tools that support the dissemination of historical information are many, each with its own goal, language and audience. They range from specialist essays to fairy tales, from university courses to sector criticism to the most popular dissemination, filtered through the network, cinema, social media and even advertisements. This list obviously also includes large institutions such as museums that embody a civil commitment to building the future: and for this reason they must look at the past without rhetoric or regret with the aim of building the future.

Making a design museum today means assuming a responsibility towards a vast audience, which now goes beyond city and national borders, to speak on a more global level. It means having a responsibility towards a community made up of designers, companies, schools, distributors, critics, historians, researchers: towards the long supply chain that has guaranteed the global success of Made in Italy design.

Unlike the many design formulas developed in the world, the Italian one has never limited itself to the shape of the products, perhaps through always consistent languages. Italian design has distinguished itself for its ability to always prefigure original relationships between products and those who, in a globalized landscape, still today in a reductive way continue to define users.

Italian design has privileged the plurality of expressive languages ​​in order to emphasize the belonging of the products to a social and temporal context. An attitude that is one of the reasons why our design is better understood in the world: it speaks to people rather than to the market.

Design therefore as a living material, which lives in the contemporary world, certainly made through a solid technical-scientific discipline, but also through an engaging narrative capacity, capable of moving beyond function. A design capable of speaking to people through dreams and desires, which manage to overcome the many problems, qualifying the future in a future project far from chance.

Through a multi-level curatorial reading, the ADI Design Museum – Compasso d’Oro will offer engaging interpretative keys and not simply celebratory, because they are aimed at men and women of all ages and not at an undifferentiated public. It will be an experiential museum, where the products will be accompanied in their reading by a large amount of material capable of telling us about history and about all its stories that were never told: design as we have never seen it before. Design made up of materials, research, drawings, prototypes, inventions, anecdotes, courageous men and women, who together build our history every day. A museum that asks questions before giving answers.

Read also the interview with Luciano Galimberti who explains the concept of heritage

Personally, I strongly believe in disseminating the history of design also through new technologies, such as apps and podcasts. Using the latter, I recently edited small’ history of design, made through the description of memories and emotions that some icons have left me: an informal way of addressing the public. A way of telling the story through the values ​​to which design refers and not only to the functions and therefore to involve in a relationship that combines personal and collective responsibilities in choosing a product or service.

Read here how podcasts give design a voice: we are also talking about 33 piccole’ storie di design by Luciano Galimberti


Cover photo by Andrea Rovatti, photo above by Paolo Carlini; both part of a project carried out in November 2013 by eight photographers invited by ADI to document the state of the building that houses the ADI Design Museum before the renovation.