Conversations of Things New

Italy has an enviable ability to tap into the vitality of other places — nurturing and encouraging non-Italian designers to create works that are locally relevant and culturally rich. Paradoxically, it’s partly this richness in the local culture of other places that has given many Italian-manufactured objects their universal appeal.

Asked by the Italian Trade Commission to research the history of cultural exchange between Italy and Australia and produce a show to celebrate it, we turned to design and the collective output by some of the world’s most recognised designers and makers.

WebOpt_Conv_710_PGE02The more we uncovered, the more we wanted to express three decades of collaborative design heritage through not only the objects produced, but the all-important process artifacts, experiments, chance meetings, challenges and surprises shared through a series of over 20 conversations with Australian designers and their Italian manufacturers – including Patrizia Moroso whose furniture company was founded on sofas by her mother and father in 1952 and was one of the first Italian company’s to commission Marc Newson.


‘On Marc’s first visit to the factory, he presented to us his sketches. He was sort of like Leonardo [de Vinci] with his book of sketches – all done by hand in a very nice way with a lot of attention. All the technical details of his designs were there, down to the last little screw, all sketched perfectly by hand… At the time of this collection, 1992 to 1993, it was only our fourth design collection. Production methods involved moulds and metal structure, thermoform plastic and rigid polyurethane, which was standard at the time. Marc was very informed about it all – he knew exactly what we had to do to make the pieces… I don’t know if he learned from me, I hope he appreciated that you can have a special relationsihi with a little Italain company this is making thinkgs for passion and things that we both believe in first and foremost – not for the market, but for satisfaction of each other.’

WebOpt_Conv_710_Horiz_YR2E8707(exhibition, architecture, publishing)
Curator: Heidi Dokulil, Graeme Smith. Designers: Graeme Smith, Heidi Dokulil, Richard Peters, Monika Domaschenz. Principal writer/editor: Heidi Dokulil. Writer: Peter Salhani. Photographers: Phillipa Croft, Karl Schwerdtfeger, Justin Alexander. Client: Italian government. Locations: Federation Square, Melbourne and St Margarets, Sydney.

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