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03.12.2005 - Piemonte region: the cradle of Italian design
The Italian city of Torino, capital of the Piemonte region, has been appointed as the World Design Capital for 2007-2008 by the International Council of Societies of Industrial Design.

Torino was chosen because of its excellence in the field of design, efforts and investments made by local institutions, Piemonte Regional Government, the Province of Torino and Torino Council, plus the association of the designers and universities.

Politecnico di Torino, including both the faculties of engineering and architecture, played a fundamental role. The industrial design studies course (www.archi1.polito.it) under the engineering faculty is growing year by year.

In trying to develop competitiveness and synergic relations between industrial companies and institutions in the globalizing world, many western countries believe their industrial policies should highlight specific cultural, environmental and territorial features typical of the individual manufacturing contexts rather than the analogies with the rest of the world.

In the case of Torino, the cluster of design and industrial planning has always been centered on cars, but alongside this are design and manufacturing facilities related to other sectors of equal economic importance.

The 1995 exhibition TORINO DESIGN offered a tangible insight into the existence of 360_ design rooted in the region of Piemonte. The highlighted sectors included component design, techno-design, design for the city, design for metal processing, (for example steel, gold and silver and other materials) design of eco-compatible products, textiles/fashion design, packaging design (connected to the wine-growing/food-producing areas), car design and virtual design.

Around Torino are the clusters of machine tools, robotics and industrial automation, automotive and component industries, design and strategic planning.

The Piemonte region is also home to 22 industrial districts with a high concentration of small enterprises.

The industrial design studies course provided by Politecnico di Torino trains designers to cover different professional outlets deriving not only from the clusters and industrial districts mentioned earlier but also from the cultures that have matured and developed inside the university so they can spread out to the manufacturing world.

The first level of training at Politecnico di Torino consists of "industrial design" and "graphic and virtual projects."

The "Industrial design" program focuses on the cultural preparation of new professionals. Through workshops for real and virtual modelling, students can be trained to fulfill the requirements of expert modellers and prototype designers in the business sector.

"Graphic and virtual projects" program is designed to enable students to plan graphic and virtual designs related to various fields - advertising, publishing, Web and new communications, exhibitions, signage, co-ordinated images, packaging, construction of virtual realities (including immersive), graphic interfaces, etc.

Through these two programs, students can develop a cultural base by accumulating knowledge on contemporary history of art and communications. They also learn about the methodological, technical and management aspects of design; prepare to use hyperreality information technology focusing on new communications; process virtual images; attain basic knowledge of both materials and processes in order to assess the feasibility of projects, both in manufacturing and market terms; acquire skills required to evaluate the quality of the project, materials, process, product and distribution; learn about sustainable development (product life cycle, ecological balance, energy management of production); and acquired the capacity to interact with multidisciplinary working groups and with organizational structures of different companies.

The second level consists of specialized degree courses where students can make multiple choices based on their personal interests.

Ecodesign

The latest figures concerning sustainable development show that we must reduce our consumption of resources, raw materials and energy by as much as 90 percent.

Designers today find themselves facing a number of themes, some of which are completely new. The interaction of these ideas can and must trigger new guidelines for research and design.

The first is the need to apply principles of ecodesign to all projects and production systems in order to respond to the changing environmental demands. This means that, in practical terms, we will need to make a series of choices, dictated more by ethics rather than by the limits of technology.

We also need to reconsider the value of technology at a global level, taking into account both its positive aspects and its negative repercussions.

As nearly 80 percent of the world's available resources is consumed by just 20 percent of the population, we need to make choices regarding products and outlet markets. Marketing same products all over the world, regardless of different cultural requirements and specific situations of energy supply, would be very short-sighted.

We must completely rethink the concepts of worldwide "information" and the capillary diffusion of the mass media (the "global village" theory), and instead enhance cultural diversity and traditional, ancestral values.

Lastly, we should find answers on how to deal with the transition from a mono- to a multi-racial society.

The course is focused on environmental and ecological issues of design.

The issues concerning ecocompatibility of products and environmental protection, which companies now face as a result of increasingly restrictive national and international regulations, apply to all humans and industrial activities.

This specialized degree course aims at training designers to become experts of ecological product design which supports sustainable development. An example of this is the components sector, understood as both industrial products and building elements.

Systems design (www.systemsdesign.polito.it), product components, lighting project, virtual static module and interactive video are themes of some projects carried out under this course.

sophie@heraldm.com

 
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