The Italian Almanac

a Bialetti moka

Italian Design

A new exhibition in Rome aims to whisk visitors on a dazzling voyage through 20th-century Italian design icons. The event at the Ara Pacis museum looks at the design process in detail, from the first drawings, through the copyrighting, through to the manufacturing and marketing of the finished product.

''This initiative aims to educate people about the everyday objects they use,'' explained Massimo Arlechino, head of the Valore Italia Foundation that organized the exhibit. ''It wants to make them aware of the creativity and the planning that goes into every project''.

The exhibition, which starts in the early 1900s and runs through the decades to the new millennium, is divided into sections looking at different types of goods, such as furniture, fashion and transport. It includes the original patent certificates of numerous Italian products, both legendary icons and little-known newcomers. The items are also explored through drawings, designs, sketches, films, advertising and radio shows, providing information about their origins, the firms behind the designs and key individuals.

The star attractions are likely to be original versions of Italian products that are now celebrated worldwide. Among these are a Vespa scooter from the 1940s, and a Moka Bialetti espresso maker and small Campari soda bottle, both from the 1930s. All three designs are still in use today, reflecting the timeless, classic appeal that the Italian industry has become famous for.

The Italian design industry emerged in the early 1900s, with a focus chiefly on automobiles and machinery. However, during the post-war boom, its reputation spread to numerous other fields. The exhibition, Disegno e Design. Brevetti e creativita' Italiani (Drawing and Design. Italian Patents and Creativity), runs at the Ara Pacis Museum) until January 31, 2010.