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Thursday March 19, 2009

Italian design gems on show

Initiative showcases legendary industrial creativity
(ANSA) - Rome, March 19 - A selection of Italy's 20th-century design gems has gone on show at the foreign ministry in Rome, as part of a new initiative to promote the country's stellar reputation in this field. The Italian design industry, which blossomed at the start of the 1900s, has gone from strength to strength over recent decades and three of the country's ministries have now joined forces to preserve some of its greatest achievements. 'Design is the pinnacle of Italian creativity, a blend of artistic ingenuity, artisanal skills and business capacity,' commented Culture Minister Sandro Bondi.

Foreign Minister Franco Frattini explained: 'The ministries involved are pooling their resources and energy, and we are also seeking assistance from leading industry and business figures'. Car design legend Sergio Pininfarina is heading up a technical committee coordinating efforts between the industry, culture and foreign ministries. Unveiling details of the collection in Rome, the ministers showcased some of automotive industry's design stars. Pride of place went to a brilliant red Ferrari F430 Spider from 2004, along with a state-of-the-art Ducati motorbike. Recalling an earlier period in Italian design history was a mythical 1953 Isetta, which helped launched the concept of microcars in the post-war years. Also from this period were two classic scooter models: a Vespa 150 and a Lambretta Innocenti, complete with sidecar. Although the focus was on vehicles during the presentation, the initiative has identified 15 separate areas in which Italian design has left its distinctive mark, including fashion, furniture, lighting, interior decor and graphic design, as well as the booming web sector. In addition to the Rome collection, the three ministries plan to promote conferences, initiatives and exhibits around the world through Italy's culture institutes and embassies. The Italian design industry emerged in the early 1900s, with a focus chiefly on automobiles and machinery. However, during the post-war boom, its reputation spread to numerous other fields. Home appliances, furniture, lamps, radio sets and TV sets all made their mark in the 1950s. In the 1960s, the focus switched to specific individuals, with industrial designers such as Gae Aulenti, or architects like Marco Bellini becoming established 'brand names' in their own right.

Alternative, post-modern design took centre stage in the 1970s with provocative and kitsch pieces, while Italy's strongest design sector today is furniture, followed by the automotive and lighting industries. photo: a Ferrari F430