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Discussion of Post-World War II Design in Italy

Bornsen-Holtmann quotes writer and critic Umberto Eco: 'If other countries had a theory of design, Italy had a philosophy, maybe even an ideology of design' (5).

Yet the speed with which a distinctively Italian aesthetic appeared to emerge still required time to achieve. Parsons writes, 'The Italians' dominance in Western design . . . didn't happen overnight. Italy's sense of style is more than a birthright, it's a vocation  and a lifestyle' (18). In some respects, the long history of cultural traditions of the nation, combined with the essential Italian character, were responsible for Italy's ability to 'bounce back' from the ravages of war.

This is reflected in some of the objects that are most associated with Italian design during the decade immediately following the end of the war, such as the Vespa motor scooter. Vespas, and many of the tiny sports cars that captured international imaginations in the late 1940s and early 1950s, 'stood for an uncomplicated lifestyle' (Bornsen-Holtmann 62) and the easy, lighthearted ability to slip away from serious cares that was also identified with a particularly Italian approach to life. The war was over, the sun was shining again, and affordable, inexpensive, stylish transportation offered the mobility of 'la dolce vita' to a generation focused on the promises and delights of the immediate.

The emergence of a distinctly Italian 'look' did not mean that everything from Italy actually looked the same - or even that everything was created using the same rules. Dormer observes, 'The Italians realized earlier than most the innate silliness of searching for a single design aesthetic in a world in which technology offered such a variety of processes and solutions' (54). Instead, Italian design became a happy marriage of form and function, of the visually satisfying with a workable design, of art and entertainment. Italian design's greatest success was its ability to combine arti...

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Discussion of Post-World War II Design in Italy. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 21:35, September 20, 2017, from
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