A HOST OF ITALIANS

a text by Stefano Boeri, on ABITARE 512 isuue

A whole host of women and men of all ages who in the last 50 years have created the forms, images, efficiency and appeal of the objects we all use on a daily basis. A host of Italians, who hail from Piedmont, Liguria, Sicily, Lombardy, Lazio, Campania and Veneto, but who in their creative work, and in their ability to give symbolical and aesthetic value to everyday utensils, are, and have always been essentially Milanese. For it is around Milan that this host of innovators, the people behind the phenomenon that is Italian Design, have always revolved, geographically and spiritually.

And what better way to celebrate Abitare’s 50th birthday than to rally this host of remarkable, unconventional, restless individuals; show their faces and describe their work, despite the fact that we are well aware that we are only able to catalogue a small part of Italian design’s immense creative workshop. With the invaluable help of Marco Romanelli and Mia Pizzi, Abitare decided to analyse, one by one, those individuals that make up this group, and produce a chronological run-down of those people and their work with design.

We know, of course, that these are not the only people who should be cited when discussing the manufacturing, social and economic miracle that remains, to this day, the driving force behind this country and our balance of trade.

There is also the host of clients, industrialists, suppliers, small and medium-sized enterprises who should be mentioned: in short a whole other, unique set of people, the ones who have given material form to prototypes and products, turned designs into real things, ideas into actual objects, concepts into technological solutions, and revealed to the world what happens when enterprise takes up the challenges set by creative minds.

Then there is a third host: the objects themselves, all those complex, aesthetically pleasing products and utensils that have always filled the pages of magazines like Abitare, the showroom shelves, the furnishing stores, the rooms of our homes.

The host of creative minds presented in sequence on the pages that follow – which are organised by date of birth – would be nothing without these other two groups.

This issue of Abitare reflects for the ways in which, for each and every designer, their lives and experiences have intertwined with their clients as they have exchanged ideas regarding hopes and expectations for the product concerned.

But this is just the beginning. We are convinced that these pages do not just provide excellent subject matter for a 50th birthday celebration; they are also the first, crucial piece of a jigsaw that reconstructs the history of Italian design; another step towards finally building that “design museum” which we have been working on over the last few months with Enzo Mari.

During the 50 years of Abitare’s existence, which have seen a period of extraordinary growth in Italian creativity, and in the ability of firms to take risks and to innovate lifestyles, the architecture and design magazines have always selected what to present and analyse with care, patience and elegance, drawing on this great river of individuals, objects and places. They have looked at different approaches, choices, passions, idiosyncrasies, reactions, advices and sometimes serious critiques. Whether we like it or not, without Abitare and all the other enlightened Italian magazines, there would be no remarkable story to tell.