The three core themes chosen by ADI, the Italian Design Association, as necessary for modern design and which drove the selection of the winners for the 27th edition of the Compasso d’Oro are “development, sustainability, and responsibility.”
ADI presented twenty Compasso d’Oro awards to products, designers, and producers on Monday during an official event in Milan, in the square named after the awards.
The Compasso d’Oro Award is universally regarded as the supreme accolade for originality, excellence, achievement and research in industrial design. Created in 1954 by the La Rinascente department store in Milan to encourage product aesthetics, the award’s name refers to the compass invented by Adalbert Göringer to measure the golden section. In 1958, the award passed from la Rinascente to ADI, which organizes the award once every two years.
Every year, the Permanent Design Observatory, a team of more than 150 design experts, selects the finest of Italian design for the annual ADI Design Index, the basis on which an international jury then confers the Compasso d’Oro Awards. Since 1954, only 379 designers won the top prize.
This year, the prestigious Compasso d’Oro Lifetime Achievement Award was awarded to nine Italians and three international creatives: Giovanni Anceschi, Francesco Binfaré, Giulio Cappellini, Antonio Citterio, Brunello Cucinelli, Michele De Lucchi, Lidewij Edelkoort, Hans Muth, Peter Opsvik, Rossana Orlandi, Rosy Vago, and Giancarlo Zanatta — together with three awards for long-selling products considered design successes and snubbed in the previous editions, this year was the turn of “Up,” Gaetano Pesce’s iconic armchair inspired by the female figure.
ADI also chose twenty-five honourable mentions including the performance-protest that the entertainment workers staged by unloading 500 trunks in Piazza del Duomo. The series of publications and the Jannis Kounellis exhibition in Venice by 2×4 for Fondazione Prada also got the New York City-based studio two honourable mentions.
In the youth section, called ‘Targa Giovani,’ three awards and nine certificates recognise projects developed by students.
The jury, chaired by Annachiara Sacchi and comprising Mario Cucinella, Stefano Micelli, Cloe Piccoli and Mirko Zardini, recognised the plurality of ways through which it is possible to provide answers to the fundamental problems of our time. “The awards underline this plurality of directions by highlighting the contribution of the designer as a crucial intersection of innovation processes,” jurors wrote in their statement.
An exhibition at the ADI Design Museum — until September 11 — showcases more than two hundred products from this year’s edition.
“We did not divide the artefacts by category, we tried to showcase the whole day, you can find very different objects,” said Luciano Galimberti the president of ADI during a preview of the exhibition.
Furniture is a major player. A sector that did not suffer the crisis during the pandemic and has never stopped to research, revealed Mr Galimberti. Among the winners, ADI awarded Jasper Morrison’s chair, Plato, produced for Magis.
There is a lot of space for material design, “all very innovative and all related to sustainability,” said Mr. Galimberti. “There was great attention to the process as well as the result,” he added.
“This year we did some scouting on mobility.” Besides Ferrari, the latest electric Fiat car, and more conventional choices, the jury focused on comfort and sustainability.
Lambrogio and Lambrogino by Mario Hasuike & Co. for Repower, another awarded project, is a brilliant redefinition of traditional lightweight vehicles for new urban electric mobility aimed at the transport of people and the delivery of goods. The delivery cyclist’s backpack transforms into a small electric van made of recycled plastic.
“There was an interesting debate among the jury about the difference between luxury and quality,” said Mr. Galimberti. For him, the selected projects are distinguished by quality, “a typically Italian attitude” that is rooted in the country’s craft tradition and distances itself from the soft-power of communication and the ostentation of precious materials, he said.
“The political reflection was that for years Italian design has been tied to the relationship between quality and price: the lowest possible price to reach the largest possible number of users,” Mr. Galimberti said.
“In the age of globalisation, we find ourselves competing with an extremely more complex system where production systems that do not have our labour protections have much lower costs and put us out of business,” he added. “Addressing the issue of quality is a key priority and the award has started to emphasise it in this perspective.”
Among the winning projects, those in healthcare are worth noting. Elastico Disegno’s prosthetic robotic hands for Prensilia show us the cyborg frontier. Cristian Fracassi and Alessandro Romaioli’s 3D printable valves also won the prize. “It is the icon of the first lockdown,” commented Mr. Galimberti. At the height of the pandemic, the duo created a valve that can transform a snorkelling mask already on the market into a ventilation-assisted mask. A soft modular biomimetic exoskeleton to assist people with mobility impairments, a collaboration of the IIT – Italian Institute of Technology with the University of Limerick called Xosoft, also took home the coveted award.
“The panorama that the award tries to capture is vast,” said Mr. Galimberti.
Read the full list of winners here.