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Digital archives and primary sources: new historical and historiographical perspectives in design research? Three case histories: Gio Ponti, Vinicio Vianello and Vico Magistretti

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The possibility offered by open-access digital archives to consult and use often unpublished primary sources, opens significant prospects for the field of historical research in design, by making it possible to use archival bonds for the comparative study of documents. But it will also require design historians to develop a more efficient methodology, based on a philological and historiographical approach.

Following a critical discussion of the use of primary sources in design history, this paper will analyse the recently-digitized archives of three Italian designers: Gio Ponti, Vinicio Vianello and Vico Magistretti. In examining the user interface and accessibility to scholars of the websites hosting these archives, as well as the problems (or opportunities) afforded the design historian by a multiplicity of documents, the aim is to reflect on the significance and on the prospects of digitization for the advancement of design history, and in light of this new “vision”, to specifically consider how it might lead to the formulation of new critical and historical hypotheses.

This article is only available in Italian.


Questo articolo è stato pubblicato in AIS/Design Storia e Ricerche, numero 10 dicembre 2017
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Dario Scodeller

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Dario Scodeller is an associate professor in the Architecture Department of the Università degli Studi di Ferrara. A licensed architect, graduated from the Università Iuav in Venice, and a design historian, he has worked professionally as a designer in the areas of lighting, exhibit and retail design. Since 2005 to 2015 he has taught in the Department of Industrial Design at the Università degli Studi della Repubblica di San Marino/Iuav di Venezia, where he became a researcher in 2012 and for which in 2014-2015 he directed the Undergraduate Programme in Design. He has taught at the Design Department of the Politecnico di Milano, in the Master courses in Lighting Design at the Accademia di Brera and at the Architecture School of the Università di Udine. His publications include the monograph Livio e Piero Castiglioni, il progetto della luce (Electa, Milano 2003); Negozi, l’architetto nello spazio della merce (Electa, Milano 2007); Gaddo Morpurgo, pensieri, progetti, ricerche (Foschi Editore, Forlì 2008), Design spontaneo (Corraini 2017). His studies and critical reflections on design have been published in magazines such as Casabella, Flare, Licht & Architektur, Abitare, Domus, Luce & Design. He directed the office of retail design for the Coin group from 1998 to 2001, and served as a consultant for Fabrica (the communication research centre of the Benetton Group) for their exhibition projects.

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