Almost all the histories of Italian design tell us that design culture was born in a close relation between professionals and SMEs. Looking at this relation, we can read the story of the relation between design and strategy from a pretty peculiar perspective. Starting from those sectors today we would normally call “design-oriented”, Italian SMEs historically develop a symbiotic relationship with design, which becomes the engine of innovation: a driver which gives the opportunity to build their identity, and emerge in the domestic and in the international markets. This relation is almost always characterized by a direct link between entrepreneur and designer, in which the designer is not only asked to give shape to ideas, but rather to understand and interpret the needs, to anticipate desires, to build a “frame of meaning” around the market offer. The Italian entrepreneur is used to discuss with the designer the development of new products, defining market opportunities, and the possible solutions. In an under-structured context, where marketing (and for sure strategic marketing) is still missing, design plays a role of mediation in the relation between company and market, developing what we are used to call a strategic approach. In other words, in Italy design developed a strategic attitude from the very beginning, and did not become strategic after the meeting with marketing. The framework in which this happens is very particular: the entrepreneur usually operates within a confined space (the industrial cluster) in which his motivation to emerge is mainly linked to social legitimacy. This framework – to quote Weber backwards – builds a tension towards the creation of "beautiful and well made products" rather than a tension towards profit, which explains why design comes before marketing. This entire story happened in Italy in the absence of a structured presence of design within the university, which initially is not a "visible" player within the system. Only the profound transformations of the competitive scenario generated, in relatively recent times, a need for a specifically targeted research and education system, leading to the fast development of the design-system inside the university. If we look at it today, looks like it has been there from the very beginning, while its pretty recent birth is a sign of a profound change, carrying the need of more conscious approaches to design.

The strategic role of design: The Italian case

DESERTI, ALESSANDRO
2009

Abstract

Almost all the histories of Italian design tell us that design culture was born in a close relation between professionals and SMEs. Looking at this relation, we can read the story of the relation between design and strategy from a pretty peculiar perspective. Starting from those sectors today we would normally call “design-oriented”, Italian SMEs historically develop a symbiotic relationship with design, which becomes the engine of innovation: a driver which gives the opportunity to build their identity, and emerge in the domestic and in the international markets. This relation is almost always characterized by a direct link between entrepreneur and designer, in which the designer is not only asked to give shape to ideas, but rather to understand and interpret the needs, to anticipate desires, to build a “frame of meaning” around the market offer. The Italian entrepreneur is used to discuss with the designer the development of new products, defining market opportunities, and the possible solutions. In an under-structured context, where marketing (and for sure strategic marketing) is still missing, design plays a role of mediation in the relation between company and market, developing what we are used to call a strategic approach. In other words, in Italy design developed a strategic attitude from the very beginning, and did not become strategic after the meeting with marketing. The framework in which this happens is very particular: the entrepreneur usually operates within a confined space (the industrial cluster) in which his motivation to emerge is mainly linked to social legitimacy. This framework – to quote Weber backwards – builds a tension towards the creation of "beautiful and well made products" rather than a tension towards profit, which explains why design comes before marketing. This entire story happened in Italy in the absence of a structured presence of design within the university, which initially is not a "visible" player within the system. Only the profound transformations of the competitive scenario generated, in relatively recent times, a need for a specifically targeted research and education system, leading to the fast development of the design-system inside the university. If we look at it today, looks like it has been there from the very beginning, while its pretty recent birth is a sign of a profound change, carrying the need of more conscious approaches to design.
strategic design; design practice; SMEs; industrial clustersPalavras-chave: design estratégico; prática de design
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11311/563565
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