Italian companies face new internationalization


Milan Design Week opened on April 8th under the sign of reflection with the 1st DESIGN SUMMIT, a privileged observatory on the opportunities that Brazil, India and China offer to Italian companies, exhausted because of the stalemate of the market. The event, created and organized by Corriere della Sera in collaboration with the Design School of Politecnico and the Milan Stock Exchange took place at Palazzo Mezzanotte, a symbolic place for Italian economy, already headquarter of the Stock Exchange. Having the event here seemed to try and underline the importance of a sector that, although very creative, is still very rooted in the real economy, thanks to its state-of-the art technological productive districts.

The Summit – sponsored by the Public Administration of Milan – gathered in a single morning eminent voices of the world of businesses, economy and design, that brought several points of view and qualified professional experiences, to analyze the state of health of Made in Italy, whose undisputed capability of penetration into foreign markets and above all into the emerging countries of BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India and China) seems to be able to soften the contraction of interior consumptions.  The works opened with the welcome speech of Cristina Tajani, Assessor for Labour Policies, Economic development, University and research at the Council of Milan and of Raffaele Jerusalmi, CEO of the Italian Stock Exchange and developed into two separate sessions, a first one where the attention was given to political and economic issues, and a second one where internationally known architects and designers coming from Brazil, India and China discussed about the future of design, proposing also ethical-environmental themes, very important in the developing countries that point to a more and more sustainable development.

In the first session, directed by Ferruccio de Bortoli, editor in chief of Corriere della Sera, Claudio Luti, President of Cosmit and Roberto Snaidero, President of Federlegno-Arredo, the discussion concentrated above all on the strategies of the Italian industry that reacted to the crisis with a strong inclination towards internationalization, widening their export radius towards the most dynamic emerging markets, with higher growth rates compared to the countries of the Old Continent. There are still some critical points though, in fact, as Luti stated: “Italian companies invested very much on product and creativity, generously taking the risk of innovation but too often giving less importance to communication and marketing activities. We have to create a strong branding. Only through a careful control over the global territory and through proper marketing investments, Italian companies will be able to maintain their leadership”.

From Federlegno Arredo’s numbers we see that 2750 associated companies present an average of 37 clerks per company and a export share of 38%. “It’s a sector mainly composed of small companies – said Snaidero – that alone don’t have enough resources for marketing investments and will be able to enter solidly the new markets only by working on the net. This is why, as an association, we created a structure, with offices in Chicago, London and Moscow, as well as other openings, to assist and support the companies in the path of internationalization. Another fundamental aspect is the fight against counterfeiting, that we try to support with all the possible means and for which we hope for some help from the Government”.

According to Giorgio Barba Navaretti, Full Professor of Political Economy at the Università degli Studi di Milano, the excellence of Italian design, a perfect mix of tertiary sector and manufacture, able to create tangible object and intangible values, has allowed Made in Italy to survive to a dramatic fall of internal consumption (-48% from 2007 to today) limiting the reduction of clerks to 16%. Today new challenges open for the sector, that needs to start reasoning on a concept of system able to integrate more and more efficiently industry and services.

It is necessary to reinforce the property structure of companies and reorganize, wherever necessary, the typical family company, adopting a different entrepreneurial model and acquiring new cultural tools, necessary to understand the emerging markets.

A breath of fresh air comes from Daniel Libeskind, an internationally known architect and designer that thinks Italian design has an inimitable charisma, because it contains everything: art, life and the capability of dreaming about the future. “I’m optimistic – stated Libeskind – because Italian creative capability has infected the whole world, and nobody wants to give it up”.

Nipa Doshi, an architect and designer who founded Studio Doshi Levien in London, suggested a global vision of business and creativity with greater attention to the contribution of young generations.

Suggestive scenarios emerged during the awaited lecture/conversation “Senseable Design” by Carlo Ratti, architect and engineer, professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he directs Senseable City Lab. He prospected a better future thanks to the Third Industrial Revolution that, with the application of new digital technologies and a new approach to internet sharing, as inspired by contemporary culture, will allow us to get back our ability of making, a sort of smart craftsmanship of the new millennium. It’s progress that looks towards the past, and design cities with a net of large scale intelligent infrastructures, that will then transform into open air computers.

The second session – directed by Alessandro Cannavò, responsible for the Events department at Corriere della Sera – with Francesco Zurlo, Delegated director of INDACO department at the Politecnico of Milan, thanks to the testimony of well-known representatives of culture and design explored the potentials of Brazil, China and India highlighting the extraordinary capability of made in Italy of being present on the global market, creating around the undisputable manufacture quality an iconic out of time imagination.

From China the voices of Beatrice Leanza, artistic director of Beijing Design Week, and Li Hu, architect and co-founder of the studio OPEN Architecture raised. Ms Leanza described the sudden evolution of the concept of design in China, which is today an economic strategic leverage and an important social message that the government strongly supports through institutions dedicated to its promotion and spreading. The value of Made in Italy in China is represented by the historical and narrative dimension behind the product but according to Ms Leanza it would be a mistake to invest on Italy as an icon. Italian companies, in order to be successful, must act depending on the contest and be less self-referential. Li Hu underlined the importance of looking at China not only as a huge market: “In China, in the last 10 years, 300 new cities have been created, with evident problems of urbanization. It would be interesting – commented Li Hu – to create a lasting collaboration relationship to share some experiences relating to problems that the Western countries already faced in the past decades, creating useful best practices at global level”.

From Brazil Marcio Kogan, architect, founder of the studio MK37 praised the capability of Italian design to create an imaginary world around itself and the absolute need of creating a network, because Brazil, today, represents a great commercial opportunity for Italian companies. Together with him, José Roberto Moreira do Valle, founder of Brazil S/A, talked about his will of creating a cultural exchange, bringing Brazilian design to Italy – through his scouting activity in the world of design supported by the Brazilian government – and taking Italian design to Brazil thanks to the event Italia s/a he’s organizing.

From India Sheila Sri Prakash architect and founder of Shilpa Architects and  Raj Singh Deputy Headmaster of Ansal University of Gurgaon, expressed their ideas about the need for sustainable and empathic design, not only from the environmental point of view, but also from the point of view of social and economic progress of masses. Both focused then on the importance of training.

Francesco Zurlo, concluded the works of the day, summarizing everything that emerged in the second panel. It was an important reflection about Italian design that, for its refinement and attention to detail, naturally positions itself in the top end global market, still bearing values such as social innovation. The Italian entrepreneurial fabric must give more and more an original contribution to the problems of social and
environmental sustainability that could become the engine for global development in the next decades.

The event was directed by Francesca Molteni of MUSE Factory of Projects

Corriere della Sera, with the organization of the 1st DESIGN SUMMIT contributed to carry on the important debate going on in the sector of design and furniture stressing the key role of the first Italian newspaper in the support of Italian companies and of thS excellent examples of Made in Italy.

As well as with Design Summit, RCS MediaGroup participated at 2013 Milan Design Week with the events Meet Design and Food&Design and signs Living Network, the multimedia communication platform dedicated to the world of living.

Milan, April 15th, 2013

Press Office
RCS MediaGroup – Divisione Quotidiani:

Francesca Marzotto tel. +39 0225844111; email: francesca.marzotto@rcs.it – Beatrice Minzioni tel. +39 0225844810; email: beatrice.minzioni@rcs.it

Luca Liguori – Communication Manager RCS MediaGroup – Divisione Pubblicità – tel. +39 022584.6023; email: luca.liguori@rcs.it

Alessia Vallarino – Studio Roscio tel. +39 023450212 – +39023495882; e-mail: a.vallarino@studioroscio.com