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  Arts & Living
IIC Hosts Piemonte-Tonino Design Exhibition
Venue: Olympic Museum
Period: 2006, October 21-29
Opening: October 21, h. 10:00

Just over 10 years ago the first edition of Torino Design presented the exhibition titled "Torino Design - from car to spoon" of which the present exhibition is a further step ahead: not only a new title but also new contents. It again documents the Piemonte region's vocation for design and the excellence of its products. The exhibition shows the complex quality of design meant for the local, national and international industrial production, which is confirmed even richer and more vital than it has been in the past.

The role of design in Piemonte is thus increasingly emerging, as it is clearly revealed and confirmed by the exhibition. Furthermore the nomination of Piemonte as the International Design Capital for 2008 is another opportunity offered to a region that has succeeded in making design an economic strategy for its development and one in which Turin will be able to confirm its vocation for design on the world stage, and not just in the automobile sector.

The curator has chosen over 250 products intended for mass production, designed and/or produced within the region and in many cases typical of certain sectors that have been on the market in the last ten years. In the exhibition they are grouped into some twenty thematic sections, and described in their underlying logic and salient features.

Alongside the sections illustrating products in well-established sectors, this exhibition reveals the existence and importance of new themes. Design is now focusing its creativity on these sectors, grasping the full potential of the interaction between tradition and innovation. The convincing and fascinating sections on Industrial reconversion, Torino-Marrakesh, Torino - Valle Varaita and The forms of taste (= wine, chocolate, coffee) confirm this trend. There are also examples of a cultivated revival of craft skills, the result of cooperation between local designers and master craft workers, some of them from different countries.

Taken all together, the products constitute models of design: they are exportable yet they preserve the cultural identity of the region they belong to and sometimes even its style, a hallmark embodying the region mindset and vocabulary. Because being glocal ( a mix of global and local) means this: exporting products that respond to the needs of a universal community without sacrificing one's own traditions, one's own industrial and cultural system, or exporting models of design that can be used to create products even beyond our own borders, perhaps in North-East Asia. And these are models that can never be copied.

Design Districts in Piemonte

Like other areas in Italy with large concentration of manufacturing, Piemonte is organized as a series of Industrial Districts possessing certain distinctive features: an entrepreneurial vocation backed up by shared strategies, widespread know-how, technological research and the creation of a network of services for design and production on the district scale.

Some Districts boast a more firmly established and broadly disseminated industrial culture , which can be measured on the basis of the resources conveyed and invested in activities under regional law 24/97, which regulates them. Among the top ones are the Biella Textile District, the Mechanical District of Casale Monferrato in the province of Alessandria and the Jewelry District of Valenza.

But the peculiarity of a district does not always coincide with the presence of a design-oriented approach to the product. Understood as an added value to the product, design had in some cases constituted a distinctive feature of specialist manufacturing, fostering integration with the overall process of innovation. This has proved the case, for example, in the automobile sector in and around Torino, as well as in the metal working area of Verbano-Cusio-Ossola. These are strong, competitive activities where design is a manifest value.

These Design Districts are mapped on a chart which reveals, alongside the industrial sectors where design is already a significant factor in the product ( manifest design), also fields where design constitutes a desirable resource ( possible design).

The Jewelry Manufacturing District in Valenza is the "golden heart of Piemonte." It is known worldwide for its hand-crafted jewelry made of gold and precious stones, but today it is in difficulty largely due to stiff competition from producers in emerging countries ( India, China). In this difficult period design appears to be a possible key to the development of new strategies to strengthen the position of the area's economy in international markets.

The Biella Textile District also appears among the areas that offer scope for concerted design planned by local institutions and associations. To confirm the outstanding quality of the district output of garment fabrics, beset by tough competition from countries with production low costs, design represents a possible way to produce extremely comfortable fibers and textiles submitted to innovative treatments that will enhance their intrinsic value.

In mechanical engineering, there are two possible territorial systems where design could boost output: the "Freezer District" of Casale Monferrato, which turns out industrial refrigerators, cold stores and refrigerated trucks without any real concern for the potential offered by design and the industrial cluster of the province of Cuneo with the sector of industrial machines and handlers, which have already created partnerships at different levels between the system of enterprises, the institutional system and the design system.

One of the ways of reviving production through design is through a preliminary, "soft" contact with it. In this respect training institutions possess a potential which brings twofold benefits: it gives students direct contact with the logic of production and makes the firm more aware of the advantages of a more conscious , design-oriented approach to production. Through applied research, conducted in collaboration with companies and business associations, schools of design can mobilize a great deal of energy and bring out the sometimes concealed aspects of possible design.

La Segreteria
Istituto Italiano di Cultura-Seoul
4F ERA Bldg., 273-2 Hannam-dong
Yongsan-gu, Seoul 1 4 0 - 8 8 4

Tel. 82 2 796 0634
Fax 82 2 798 2664






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