The Italian Design Day marked its 6th edition at Maristar, Starhill Kuala Lumpur on 23 March 2022 with a guest list from various professional backgrounds, high-level personalities from the local business and entrepreneurial community, representatives of the growing, demanding and affluent Malaysian society, as well as journalists and influencers.
Innovating design with sustainable technologies is the keyword that resonates loud and clear in the ‘Made in Italy’ playbook going forward in the post-pandemic world. The insightful event was hosted by the Embassy of Italy in Kuala Lumpur in collaboration with the Italian Trade Agency. Focusing on the connection between the excellence of Italian design and its sustainable efforts to reduce environmental impact, while forging partnerships with local industry players to create impressive craftsmanship, this year’s event was organized in a new format conceived by Ambassador Massimo Rustico, who invited prominent Italian brands to share their testimonies according to this year’s theme – Regeneration. Design and New Technologies for a Sustainable Future. It highlighted the timely challenges that design is facing: functionality, sustainability and reduced environmental impact in lifestyle practices.
The hybrid event included speakers from world-renowned Italian companies such as Ducati, the icon of motorcycles and Moto GP with Andrea Ferraresi, the Director of Ducati Centro Stile; Mangusta, which offers luxury Italian mega yachts from producer Overmarine with Francesca Ragnetti and Sara Todde; Technogym, the world’s leading fitness equipment with Cristian Brugnoli; Armarior, luxury furnishing and fittings with Principal Architect and Project Director Pedram Fotouhi; and Permasteelisa, the global player of high-tech glass facades for skyscrapers, including the future iconic “Megatall” Merdeka 118 in Kuala Lumpur, with Camille Hochaime and Pietro Di Genova.
Ambassador Massimo Rustico highlighted the importance of the ‘Made in Italy’ as one of the driving forces behind the Italian economic system and the fact that Italy’s manufacturing industry is the second largest in Europe. “The Italian Design Day has, over the years, established itself as an effective tool for promoting Italian designs internationally, becoming a catalyst for our exports in various strategic sectors. The goal is to conceive new products and new processes based on sustainable technologies in accordance with the concept of promoting a circular economy”. He also lauded Malaysia as a great partner to Italy and aims to promote more bilateral ties in trade and investments.
Franco Caimi, the “Ambassador of Italian Design”, CEO of Caimi Brevetti and one of the most important design-oriented producers of furniture and components in Europe, highlighted the importance of sustainability and design – not just using recyclable materials but going beyond design with the clever use of technology. He also emphasized how sustainability is now one of the key guidelines for design, and how the environmental impact of products must become one of the essential requirements of design. “Made in Italy is synonymous with the identity of our country and many elements such as literature, architecture and culture have contributed to the creation of a unique vision of life and things, which is the basis of Italian creativity and design”. Mr. Caimi went on to provide some examples of Italian design districts: Lombardy (with Milan, the capital of design and fashion, and Brianza, the cradle of the furniture industry), Veneto (with its tradition in glassmaking, sports equipment production and advanced construction elements like those produced by Permasteelisa), Emilia Romagna (with its long tradition in the luxury automotive industry: Ferrari, Lamborghini, and of course the great Ducati, the ceramic and the wellness industry represented by names like Technogym), Tuscany (with leather production from the likes of Gucci and Prada, the marble production in Carrara, or that of luxury yachts by Mangusta). Caimi Brevetti collaborates with the most renowned Italian and international designers and architects, as well as with emerging young creatives to produce products for domestic, office and contract sectors.
Andrea Ferraresi, Director of Ducati Centro Stile introduced the world of Ducati, introducing the company’s golden rules of design, which dictate that all products coming out from the Borgo Panigale factory near Bologna must be essential, compact, sensual, recognizable and sporty. The company has, in fact, the ambition to set the highest targets not only in terms of sporting results but also in terms of design and innovation combined with passion for beauty and well-being and, with sustainability in mind, has entered into the electric world with its electric racing motorcycle (the MotoE bike), with the goal of making electric motorcycles that are both high-performance and characterized by their lightness.
The Italian yachting industry as a whole is a crown jewel of the Made in Italy and a bright example of Italian excellence in this field is the Overmarine group, which builds open and displacement power super yachts, from 22 to 65 metres in length, and has delivered more than 300 super luxury yachts during its 30 years of operation. Francesca Ragnetti and Sara Todde, respectively Sales Manager and Style & Design Manager for the brand Mangusta, illustrated their range of products, highlighting the versatility and customizability of their designs and materials, which translate into unique vessels of ultimate taste, refinement, beauty and navigability.
With Malaysia being one of the most important trading hubs in the ASEAN region and acting as an essential gateway for Italian companies into the Asia market, the benefits of bilateral partnerships between Italy and Malaysia were well-highlighted in the presentation by Pedram Fotouhi, the Principal Architect and Project Director of Armarior. Combining Italian expertise, technology and creativity together with the manufacturing skillsets of local Malaysia masters, the company – established in 2018 -, flagship of Malaysian excellence in the furniture/design sector and importer of Italian furniture products for the medium-high segment, has been able to flourish and deliver cutting edge furnishings and fittings to the market.
Camille Hochaime and Pietro Di Genova represented Permasteelisa, a renowned global player of high-tech glass facades for skyscrapers worldwide, including the second tallest iconic tower in the world – Merdeka 118 in Kuala Lumpur. The company played an integral role in engineering, procuring raw materials, manufacturing and installing over 150,000 sqm of bespoke glass unitized façade panels, including those covering the 162-meter long spire that will crown the tower. “From the 17,716 full-floor unitized curtain wall panels, 5,584 have different panel typologies, and 4,026 of these are unique. In addition, we’ve also developed a bespoke design of over 8 km of Linear RGBW LED fixtures which will be visible once the building is completed by end 2022”, said Camille Hochaime, Senior Project Manager at Permasteelisa Group.
Merdeka 118 has earned a triple platinum rating with international sustainability certifications including the prestigious Leadership in Energy and Environment Design (LEED) and GreenRE and Green Building Index (GBI), a first for Malaysia and, once completed, will be the second tallest skyscraper in the world (at the impressive height of 678.90 meters) after Dubai’s Burj Khalifa.
Italy hosts the largest furniture trade fair in the world, the ‘Salone Internazionale Del Mobile’ in Milan, which is considered a leading venue for showcasing new products and designers of furniture, lighting and other home furnishings around the world. The 60th edition of the fair, is scheduled this year from 7-12 June 2022.
Other presentations played during the event included the Industrial Design Association Museum in Milan, and videos on the Italian fashion and jewelry clusters. The Italian fashion and jewellery industries are in fact not only extremely relevant to the theme of design, but their global reach is extremely wide. Italian fashion is linked to the most generalized concept of “Made in Italy”, a merchandise brand expressing excellence in creativity and craftsmanship. Italian luxury goods in fact are renowned for the quality of the textiles and the elegance and refinement of their construction, while the strength of Italian jewellery is to be found in its superior design, quality content and outstanding innovation capabilities.
Franco Caimi, the Ambassador of Design concluded the event, “The companies whose presentations and beautiful videos represent our country’s excellence and are examples of how Italian design is applied in different markets. Beauty, art and music have always united – and never divided – people, overcoming (rather than creating) barriers. I sincerely hope that, with the combination of Italian design and humanity, we can contribute to achieving environmental and social sustainability”.
The Italian Design Day is a yearly initiative organized by the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation and its Diplomatic network together with the Italian Trade Agency.