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Post-World War II Design in Italy

Unlike designers in most other Western countries, Italians were not typically trained as designers. Instead, post-war Italian design arose out of the architectural tradition. As Anne McGregor Parsons observes, ˘Nearly all the members of the group of designers who began practising as independent designers of interiors and industrial goods immediately following the Second World War were trained as architects before the war÷ (11). Architect Gio Ponti said, ˘In Venice, God created only the water and the sky. The remainder was made by architects÷ (Bornsen-Holtmann 9).

Finding themselves with few building projects, ItalyĂs architects turned to struggling manufacturers to help the industrialists climb back out from economic ruin. The movement began in Milan. Bornsen-Holtmann writes, ˘Designers from Milan have been in demand internationally ever since industry realised that beautifully designed products can be sold more easily and at higher prices than unattractive ones÷ (7).

The emphasis on architectural training did not come only from the architects themselves. As Parsons observes:

The push to achieve their status as international winners in the design sweepstakes came from Italy's business community. After World War II, the country's manufacturers  tiny companies by American standards  were looking to compete in a world market. What they saw were architects coming out of school unemploy


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