Excerpt from Tamtam 2006/s – a special edition of Torino Internazionale’s Magazine

When Torino was awarded the XX Olympic Winter Games, it could have been considered a point of arrival for many recent policies involving the city.

Being chosen to host the Games has sparked a process of transformation that is similar to two other transformations that have taken place in the past two centuries. The first occurred when Torino became the first capital of newly-united Italy ; the second when the city structured itself as one of the most significant examples of a European “one company town”. The local authorities have decided to use the Olympics as a starting point for a new pathway.

Over the coming years, the renovated city will witness international cultural, economic and sporting events that will emphasize all the factors of Torino’s widespread creative and planning capabilities. Design is perhaps the feature that most characterizes products “Made in Italy” – from the automotive industry to consumer products and fashion – and is deeply rooted in Piedmont. The theme of design is therefore an important key to understanding how Torino is transforming itself from an industrial city, able to serve the needs of the national community, into a planning-based city serving the needs of the international community.

Thanks to Piedmont’s professionalism in the field of design, the city of Torino was nominated first World Design Capital for the year 2008 during the XXIV General Assembly of Icsid – the International Council of Societies of Industrial Design – in Copenhagen on September 30, 2005. Through this project, Icsid will pinpoint emergent cities in recognition of their design excellences and promote them to an international level as areas that focus on design as a driving force for economic, social and cultural development.

Many factors convinced Icsid that Torino is able to carry out the first WDC mandate. First of all, the city’s tradition in the fields of design and engineering. Substantial investments connected to the world of design have been made in Torino and the region, especially in recent years. Most of these have come from local institutions. Training institutes have also strengthened what they have to offer through a number of top-level design courses: car, transport, product, interior and graphic design courses are run by the Politecnico di Torino, Torino’s IED (Istituto Europeo di Design), and the IAAD (Istituto di Arte Applicata e Design). In the automotive sector many private companies with a strong position in international markets are also playing their part. These include the Fiat Group (Alfa Romeo, Lancia, Ferrari, Maserati and Iveco), more than 20 companies in car body design and engineering centres (Bertone, Italdesign-Giugiaro, Pininfarina) and a host of car component companies.

The region also boasts high ranking companies in train design (Alsthom Ferroviaria), aeronautics (Fiat Avio, Alenia Aeronautica), aviation and aerospace (Alenia Spazio, Altec), boats and yachts (Azimut), mechanics and precision instruments, automation and robotics (Comau, Fata Group), electronics and ICT (Olivetti), household goods (Alessi, Lagostina), gold jewellery (Damiani), textiles (Gruppo Miroglio-Vestebene, Ermenegildo Zegna, Piacenza, Loro Piana, Borsalino), sportswear and techno-textiles (Fila), sweets (Ferrero), coffee (Lavazza), drinks and beverages (Martini-Bacardi, Cinzano, Gancia, Carpano, Ceretto, Marchesi di Barolo, Fontanafredda, Gaja, Bersano).

The special nature of Piedmont’s design is that it stems from a project, with its roots firmly planted in the historic industrial tradition. Torino is, and is recognised as, a think-tank and workshop of ideas, know-how and creativity able to reinvent itself by promoting highly innovative sectors. It is common to hear that everything is design. Nevertheless, the most significant aspect is perhaps represented by the role that design plays as a bridge between technology and arts, ideas and results, culture and commerce. The combination of technical skills, efficiency and artistical capabilities makes design seem the creative industry par excellence. Torino , due to a complex mixture of historical reasons and actuality, has all the features to become the first Icsid World Design Capital.

The designation will officially commence in November 2007 and continue until the end of 2008. In this period, Torino will develop a rich calendar of high-profile events, exhibitions and related activities to explore current trends and highlight emerging phenomena in the world of design, and to underline the characteristics of local design with its distinctive approach to creativity and planning, and, naturally, impart the “Made in Italy ” story.

Sergio Chiamparino, Mayor of the City of Torino