Salone Internazionale del Mobile, the flagship design event in Milan, attracting hundreds of thousands of visitors from all over the world, year after year the week-long design event cements Milan’s status as one of the design and innovation hubs of the world.
Although initially set up as an initiative to promote Italian furniture design, now , together with the ‘Fuori Salone’ event embraces all facets of design, from furniture to fashion, to digital, to design theory and practice.
So what brings people from every country of the world to this city in Lombardy? Above all it is the draw of the brand of ‘Made in Italy’. Italy has succeeded in making a name for itself as the premier design and manufacturing country in the world since the end of the 2nd World War. Built on a foundation of traditional craftsmanship that goes back hundreds of years, the state was able to accelerate production through modern manufacturing techniques. Add to the mix the high level of Italian engineering, artistic flair, and openness to experimentation and innovation and you had the ‘perfect storm’ for the creation of a design ideal that was to become world famous.
Swide spoke with Laura La Corte, Head of Consumer Goods, Italian Trade Commission (ICE).
"The term ‘Made in Italy’ is traditionally associated with the "beautiful and well made" a fundamental characteristic of Italian products: product design and quality, high in creativity, innovation, originality, style and quality. Made in Italy also expressed that Italian flavour, the lifestyle that many in the world love, and even those abroad are trying to recreate, designing and making in Italy products to be distributed as a foreign brand."
As ever, the challenges facing the ‘Made in Italy’ brand are different today than they were five years ago. Many other countries have since become global players in the design and manufacturing business. So how will ‘Made in Italy’ retain its eminent position in world manufacturing?
There is no question that 'Made in Italy’ will always be around, ‘Made in Italy’ is an ideal and therefore impervious to change. Key to it's success is its ability to adapt itself to changing influences. Measured against other manufacturing trends, the ‘Made in Italy’ concept proves to be the most durable and adaptable of all. Current economic climates mean people think twice about buying, this has led many Italian companies to streamline their operations and to emphasise their strengths and specialities – the healthier Italian companies have become ‘fitter’ and this in turn has a beneficial effect on the quality of product.
“In the era of globalisation and relocation of the Italian companies are managing to resist the temptation to reduce costs by lowering quality standards. Focusing instead on craftsmanship and technology together on niche products and more tailor-made, by intercepting requests and anticipating new market trends, our businesses will be able to meet the challenge of new markets and to maintain high the banner of ‘Made in Italy’ in the world, says La Corte.
Some things remain untouchable, and quality is certainly one of them. Although recent trends have veered in the direction of disposability and lowered costs, ‘Made in Italy’ has remained true to itself. High quality products last generations and contribute to sustainability. High levels of craftsmanship foster a healthy working environment where skills are passed on through generations promoting a healthy and strong workforce that in turn reflects on the quality of the finished product.
Isabella Rosellini (centre) and Monica Bellucci (above) in a campaign for Dolce&Gabbana. Rosellini fronted a campaign by the ICE to promote 'Made in Italy' in the United States
This in some way is the ‘magic’ of ‘Made in Italy’ a happy and content worker, who is aware and connected to the beauty surrounding his daily life puts his heart and soul into his craft. ‘Made in Italy’ is made with love, that’s the key to its success. And this is a defining characteristic of the ‘Made in Italy’ brand, there is no country in the world that values aesthetic beauty more than Italy. Living in Italy you see this every day. From the attention to detail in everyday objects to how the Italians dress and conduct themselves, being ‘beautiful’ is an imperative, it permiates every aspect of Italian life.
This is quite an ideal. By aspiring to make our lives more beautiful we are aspiring to something greater. That’s is the real product behind the brand ‘Made in Italy’, the romantic notion that by surrounding ourselves with beauty we lift ourselves up. Why shouldn’t the world be beautiful?
Salone Internazionale del Mobile 2012
From April 17th to April 22nd (9.30 AM - 6.30 PM)
Fiera Milano, Rho
Red Line M1, stop Rho-fieramilano
by Hugo Mc Cafferty
Special thanks to Laura La Corte, Italian Trade Commission (ICE)
Photo credits: Steven Meisel, Gianrico Battaglia, Mediaimages/Photodisc/Getty Images
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