New frontiers for design

Where does design stand today? We hear from Luciano Galimberti, Chairman of ADI (Associazione Design Italiano), the organisation behind the Compasso d’Oro, the oldest and most prestigious design award in the world.

A direct question to begin with: where does design stand today?
The identity of design interests everyone today. As well as encouraging debate among professionals, design must now open up a dialogue with the wider public, one which closely involves the market as well as research and experimentation. These two paths are diverse, but they must never contradict one another. For designers this means striving further to translate their ideas into easily understandable concepts. Today, designers need to be good story tellers as well as thinkers.

What are the “hot topics”?
The field of design is expanding beyond objects to include services (in other words, designing coordinated systems which allow objects to work better together) and social design, projects which do not exactly fit with market criteria but are an increasingly essential aspect of improving people’s quality of life – design’s fundamental mission. As well as objects themselves, design is looking more and more at the relationship between objects and people, both individuals and society as a whole.

How much influence does sustainability have on design? Is it still a relevant topic?
Definitely: today it is embedded in every designer’s culture. It has become unthinkable to design objects which waste resources. The concept has been a fundamental part of ADI’s “Design Manifesto” since the 1980s; it has just been updated to better reflect today’s global climate.

ADI’s Compasso d’Oro Award has gone international this year: could you tell us something about it?
Making the Award international is a natural reaction to the new global scenario. The concepts of quality, functionality and aesthetics which Italian design has typified since the 1960s can be offered up to the whole world as criteria for good design on a global scale. The right balance between an object’s function and image – the key to the success of Italian design – can help design take great steps forward around the world. ADI therefore continues to support these criteria not to consolidate Italian traditions but to help achieve better design across the globe.

Do you have any upcoming projects for the eyewear sector?
The sector is as complex as it is fascinating, one in which technical knowhow merges with fashion and individual personalities. More than a purely aesthetic advantage, design can therefore act as the connective tissue which brings harmony and success to these types of products.