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Icons of business culture

A ten-part account of some of the best names in the Italian design industry has just been published.

 

Excellence and the corporate culture that accompanies it. The inimitability of the product. History as a resource for the present. These are just some of the themes that are explored in “Icone. Mito, storie e personaggi del design italiano” (Icons. The myths, history and characters of Italian design), a book written by Giovanna Mancini and recently published: a collection of snapshots of business, dedicated to companies that have made Italian design their great strength.

Icons” begins with an observation: for more than half a century, Italian companies on the international design scene have represented excellence on a global scale, recognised both by the markets and by the world of culture and design. To find proof of this, we only need look at the vast number of products that are the pride of collections of design pieces and applied art. And that’s without even touching upon the economic significance of this sector.

But what lies behind all of this? The answer (or rather the ten answers) to this question can be found in the pages written by Mancini whilst touring around some of the best companies in the sector, such as Alessi, Artemide, B&B Italia, Caimi Brevetti, Cassina, Driade, Gufram, Kartell, Molteni&C and Zanotta; a journey into (and behind the scenes of) Italian ingenuity that serves to demonstrate how success is the result of a complex set of elements, every single time: not simply the quality of the product, but also the gamble and adventure of experimenting, the drive to explore, the taste for innovation and also – why not – the capacity to take risks. Without forgetting, of course, the ability to combine tradition with innovation, in different ways each time. This is a rare skill, and not merely the result of great management and production skills.

Giovanna Mancini explains all of this, and shows us that there is no mathematical formula that can explain the unmeasurable Italian entrepreneurial creativity applied to design.

The author writes the following of two of the protagonists of her book: “Both are passionate about beauty, creativity, sustainability and the unique nature of Italian know-how, as well as about supporting young talent and looking to the future. This is precisely what unites them: a shared vision of doing business on the basis of two fundamental and indispensable pillars: science and humanism.”

“Icons” consists of less than two hundred pages, each of which is worth a close read.

Icone. Mito, storie e personaggi del design italiano (Icons. The myths, history and characters of Italian design)

Giovanna Mancini

LUISS University Press, 2021