How Italy Built Its Leading Creative Empire

Italian super brands emerged from the ashes of WWII, putting Italy at the forefront of fashion and design.

The following article, written by Nicky Lobo, appears on

How Italy became (and remains) a creative superpower

When you think of the world’s most loved brands, Italians dominate. Think of Dolce & Gabbana, Prada and Fendi in fashion, Ferrari, Fiat and Ducati in automotive, Smeg and DeLonghi in appliances. So how have the Italians gained and maintained their stronghold in the hearts and minds of buyers?

History repeating

The post-war period is widely recognised as the heyday of Italian industrial design. World War II saw much of Italy decimated, sparking a national rebuilding phase in the post-war period that brought together culture and commerce.

Having grown up in Milan in the ’60s and ’70s, Sydney-based architect Luigi Rosselli witnessed an omnipresence of good design and architecture.

“The war destruction left a space for creativity and it was everywhere. I ate on Gio Ponti’s plates, typed on the Bellini Olivetti typewriter, sat in Kartell furniture. The heroes of design were more revered than sports persons,” he says. Further back, Rosselli credits the Roman Renaissance for instilling a sense of good proportion, harmony, quality of materials and craft; and the French and Austrian influence as instilling qualities of precision and reliability.

This burst of creativity and design was encapsulated in the launch of the Salone del Mobile in Milan in 1961. The trade show’s original intention was to showcase design from Northern Italy; it has now become the world’s foremost design fair. “There is not another furniture fair to even go close, and it’s been that way for decades,” says Fiona Lyda, founder of Australian design retailer Spence & Lyda, who has been attending Milan since the late ’90s. Continue reading at 

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