Explaining the value of design is increasingly fundamental to create social, environmental but also economic sustainability. The report of the Italian Design Day in New York

Sharing values ​​and contents, an extended participation to an increasingly curious and attentive public, an open debate on contemporary issues. All this is, increasingly, what truly matters when it comes to the success of design communication.

Proof of this is what occurred yesterday during a webinar organized by the National Institute for Foreign Trade (ICE) of New York for the Italian Design Day 2020 (the global appointment conceived by the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs to promote design as an expression of made in Italy production). The webinar took place in less than optimal conditions (two days before the presidential elections and mid-morning on a working day), yet 229 people participated throughout the event, following all the interventions, from start to finish, for a total of almost two hours.

The reason for such a success should be seen first of all in the mix of voices, in the selection of participants coming from a variety of design-related areas. There were Piero Lissoni, Italian Design Ambassador” for New York, the master Gaetano Pesce, Francesca Lanzavecchia, Creative Director & Co-Founder of Lanzavecchia + Wai, architect Marco Piva of Studio Marco Piva, Patrizio Cionfoli, Director of Design & Interaction of Studio Volpi, Yorgo Lykouria, Founder/Creative Director of Rainlight Studio). Yet key names are not enough to guarantee good attendance (especially online) unless they are coupled with contents that truly touch the audience's interest. In this case, it was a curation ranging from case studies to an open discussion on strategies for Italian design production and its future.

“The strength of Italian design has always been its ability to create a system”, says Francesca Lanzavecchia after the event. “And what emerged from the webinar was the urgency to find new ways to increase and improve the ability to team up, including among designers, to design the new normal of tomorrow's life emerged.”

How to do it? Lanzavecchia's recipe is to extend to other disciplines, skills and industries, to think about beauty with other eyes (therefore always in relation to real needs), and to give shape to other research, knowledge and technologies.“There is an increasing need to be industrial as a mission but human-centric as a methodology. A return to a more Renaissance knowledge, therefore, a multidisciplinary approach in which designers provide the language - which is that of beauty - but use it for projects that have a true meaning: from an anthropological, social and cultural point of view”.

This is the true essence of design, as Ambassador Varricchio recalled: design in English means developing and carrying out a project and never like this year marked by the pandemic – we have to leverage creativity, ingenuity, and the Italian style to look ahead and prepare for the future.

The guidelines to keep? Finding solutions so that physical distancing does not also become social separation and so that collective and participatory thinking continues on the great issues of contemporaneity: development, innovation, sustainability and beauty (meant not only as aesthetics but as the right of everyone to dignity in everyday life).

And, not surprisingly, it is these four keywords that guided the creation of the Italian Design Day 2020 in the USA. Which, alongside the reflections of a cultural nature, also underlined the strategic role in Italian exports to the States: the latest available data relating to the Furniture and Construction sector, relating to the period January-August 2020, mark a value of 1.62 billion dollars and a sixth position for Italy as a supplier country.

In this panorama, revealing to the American market the know-how and the added value of knowing how to design Italian means – in the words of Antonio Laspina, director of the ICE Agency in New York, USA coordination – demonstrating the ability to field a careful offer to the needs of the market and professionals in the sector through innovative solutions for styles, materials and technologies, created thanks to supply chains of companies able to meet the most specific needs of designers.



Illustrations by Emiliano Ponzi for the book The Great New York Subway Map, MoMA - Fatatrac Edizioni, 2018 (read here).