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Peroni: Italian Chic

Peroni Nastro Azzurro are brewing up a design show that proves Italians do it better

It’s long been said that Italians do it better. And, in a lot of cases, they do – particularly in the fields of design and architecture. Practically everything Italian made embodies a deep-rooted value of craftsmanship and attention to detail. These are values shared by Peroni Nastro Azzurro, in crafting the perfectly balanced Italian beer – which is why the brand are working with the Design Museum on Made In Italy: The Influence Of Italian Design, a series of  talks taking place in London, Brighton and Glasgow. Mario Bellini started out as an architect, and has succeeded in becoming one of the world’s finest product designers. Bellini is one of the speakers at the event, which will offer a unique insight into contemporary Italian design, with key figures from the industry discussing its profound worldwide influence.

"Italy has a unique place in the landscape of contemporary design; it has a long history of innovation, rooted in the skill and craftsmanship of its traditional workshops, and continually refined by a commitment to innovation. For the Design Museum, understanding the nature of contemporary Italy is an essential part of its programme", says Deyan Sudjic, the Director of the Design Museum and curator of the talks. The speaking events will "offer a unique insight into contemporary Italian design" and features such creative dignities as James Irvine, Piero Lissoni, Antonio Citterio, Roberto Giolito, Claudio Silvestrin and Ross Lovegrove. Launching on the 5th May 2010 at the Design Museum in London, each "talk will explore the values behind Italy’s creative force, looking at future trends and bringing together the world’s most exciting figures in Italian contemporary design". Dazed Digital spoke to Mario Bellini about Peroni, the events at the Design Museum and design in general...

Dazed Digital: Would you say that Italian design has a long history of innovation?
Mario Bellini: Yes. It is rooted in the skill and craftsmanship of Italy’s traditional workshops. It’s a combination of passion, perfect craftmanship, fine materials and a meticulous attention to detail, all of which are employed by Italians in a bid for perfection.

DD: Are you working with Peroni Nastro Azzurro and the Design Museum on the Made In Italy project because you feel it is important for you to enlighten those who may not know much about the design industry?
Mario Bellini: Of course, it’s important. It's a partnership between an important Italian style brand and the Design Museum, and it will offer a whole spectrum of seminars on Italian design. The museum celebrates design across all platforms: its diverse programme, exhibitions and events are respected around the world.

DD: You have excelled in many areas of design – from product and furniture design to architecture and urban planning. Is it atypical of Italian designers to work over such a wide spectrum of design?
Mario Bellini: It certainly isn’t for me – I love and am passionate about all areas of design. I was trained as an architect, like most Italian designers, and, after graduation in the 60s, I happened to start working as a furniture, product and art exhibition designer. I actually went back to architecture in the 80s. I haven’t neglected furniture design – I still love to create in this field. I am keen to keep mixing it up.

DD: What was the first thing you ever designed?
Mario Bellini: It was furniture and accessories in 1959. I had never designed an object before – I tried a lamp, a chair and a sofa and, as I did it, I began to understand the relationship between technique, form and meaning. After this short training, I created what I consider my very first work of design: the Cartesius table, which won the Compasso d’Oro in 1962.

DD: Does Italian design and architecture have a clear, defining aesthetic?
Mario Bellini: I think that the Italian idea of ‘La Città’ is crucial to Italian designers. La Città is a devotion to civic identity and expressing a profound understanding of the city through design.

DD: How important is the balance between functionality and beauty in your work?
Mario Bellini: Functionality is an obvious feature in designing furniture, or any object. However, if you succeed in doing this and reach beauty, then you are a ‘designer’ – that is, an artist.

Cab Chair by Mario BelliniArchitects. Made in Italy – The Influence of Italian Design talks series: Il Modo Italiano, May 5, London. Italian Industrial Design, May 10, London. Italian Design on the Road, May 12, Brighton. Milan Design City, May 18, Glasgow. The Future, May 20, London. For more information or to book tickets, call 020 7940 8783 Alternatively go to Design Museum's website