Design: history and historiography

Up to this day, the following contribution by Vanni Pasca held at the First International Congress of Historical Studies on Design (Milan, 1991), represents a paper of considerable relevance. Analyzing the main historical and historiographical theories and techniques related to design – and not only – he identifies critical paths and useful methodologies for research.

Design in History

is important contribution, Margolin examines the role of design history in the broader context of social, economic and technical histories. Through a historiographical and bibliographic analysis he enquires and seeks to answer some of the questions for which design histories that are often too specialised in nature make up only a marginal position in the community of historians in spite of the pervasiveness of design in the social world. [1]

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  1. is important contribution, Margolin examines the role of design history in the broader context of social, economic and technical histories. Through a historiographical and bibliographic analysis he enquires and seeks to answer some of the questions for which design histories that are often too specialised in nature make up only a marginal position in the community of historians in spite of the pervasiveness of design in the social world.

Cultures for design education

During the phase of their establishment, design schools of the twentieth century have kept history as a discipline out of their educational programs. It has emerged on their cultural agenda only in the Eighties. Now that the design has become not only a discipline, but also a culture, design history is back to reclaim its role.

Graphic design for ‘made in Italy’

This paper aims to investigate the role of graphic design as a discipline of the communicative action, in the affirmation process of the economic and business phenomenon referred to as ‘made in Italy’. The fundamental contribution of graphic design and communication to this phenomenon, that had its heyday in the years of economic recovery and subsequent boom, often fades into the background and is overlooked in comparison to the physical relevance of the object, of the product. This research attempts a more careful reflection that, through the reading and study of many Italian graphic design projects, allows to grasp their key role in the emergence of an entrepreneurial culture and an aesthetic quality of the product.

Danese 1957 – 1991. An experimental design laboratory

Among the historic italian design factories, Danese stood out for being, more than others, an experimental laboratory for design projecting. Bruno Danese and his wife Jacqueline Vodoz gave life not just to a business, but more importantly to an editor which interpreted the production of objects as a cultural operation. Even if such a story would be impossible today, Danese provided us with an original operational model, several aspects of which make it as lively as it has ever been.

Applied Arts and education: Sullam’s case

The study investigates the main themes and issues related to the teaching of Applied Arts in Italy between the 19th and 20th centuries. It highlights the historical separation between knowledge and know-how, artists and craftsmen in the Italian educational system, and the subsequent debate aimed at overcoming this dichotomy. This dualism will be partly reassembled in the nascent Architecture Schools. This is an Italian peculiarity that should be further investigated specially in the face of the recent educational autonomy gained by schools of design against Architecture.

Representations of the industrial product. Triennale di Milano, 1940 – 1964

The article focuses on the images and the representations of industrial design promoted by the Triennale of Milan, through display languages and exhibition techinques. In particular the following exhibitions are considered: the International exhibition of serial production (1940), committed to a philosophical interpretation of the concept of ‘standard‘; the International show of Industrial Design, devoted to a celebration of the context of industrial production; the Italian section (1964), aimed at betraying the excesses of mass consumer society.

Max Huber: synaesthesia between graphic design and painting

Since the period of training in Zurich thirties, concrete pictorial research and “applied” research to advertising, publishing and typography are closely linked in the method of work of Max Huber, in line with the concept of unity of the arts derived from the Bauhaus. These overshoots give to its graphics an elegance and a communicative strength always far from trite or easy solutions, based on an idea of design culture to the service of man and society.

Ettore Sottsass Jr. and the earliest Olivetti computers design

This short essay aims to reconstruct the history of the earliest Olivetti computers: the evolution of Elea series (1955-1965) designed by Ettore Sottsass Jr. with Andries Van Onck. The main focus is Elea 9002, winner of Premio Compasso d’Oro for industrial design in 1959, and Elea 9003, the very first Italian transistor mainframe computer. The article also presents the latter models (Elea 6001, 4001, 9104). Moreover, it briefly outlines the innovative symbols system specifically designed for Olivetti computers by Tomás Maldonado and Gui Bonsiepe at the Hochschule für Gestaltung in Ulm.