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Academic year
Didactic period
Secondo Semestre

Training objectives

The aim of the course is to provide students with theoretical, historical-critical and methodological paths, contextual to the history of industrial design.
The lessons deal with the related design issues to different design themes able to illustrate some theoretical and critical issues.
We will give ample space to the protagonists, to the most significant approaches and schools, in addition to the role played from industry, commercial distribution, and technological innovations.
The passage between project and product will therefore be studied, highlighting the construction processes, technological and promotional through the typological and morphological reading of products, with references constants to the socio-technical system in which they evolved.
Will be highlighted the theories that have been important in the conception of the industrial product and its affirmation as a symbol of modernity.


No prerequisites.

Course programme

The design history course consists of a supporting module (48 hours) supplemented by a history and trend module of the arts (24 hours).

History of design
Presentation of the course;
Summary of the story: what is design today?
Definitions and definition of the discipline of industrial design;
Foundational concepts: typification, unification, standardization;

Introduction to the history of industrial design: from the first cases of research into the codification of the serial production processes of objects, distinguished by aesthetic and functional values ¿¿in antiquity, to the definition of the rules of the Arts and Crafts in the Renaissance city;
The model and its duplication: printing; The affirmation of the role of drawing in the academies and the separation between invention and production in the real Manufactures; The Encyclopedie of Diderot and D'Alambert;

The Industrial Revolution; The cognitive and taste revolution in the eighteenth century and the new role of decorative arts: from the preservation of traditional craftsmanship to the innovation of the industrial arts in the expansion of the market in the eighteenth century; Wedgwood, Boulton, Chippendale, Sharaton;

Universal Exhibitions; The renovation of 19th century decorative arts; Criticism of the industrial production system: William Morris and the Arts & Crafts associations;

The production of furniture and furnishings in the Biedermeier era;
Michael Thonet; Shakers; New energy sources and new opportunities for the project;

The world of objects from craftsmanship to industry in the early twentieth century: Art Nouveaux and Art Deco; The German Werkbund; Peter Behrens and the dimension of modernity: the AEG case;

Art, architecture, decorative arts: historicism, artistic avant-gardes;
The Modern Movement and the Bauhaus school;

The industrial design as a profession: the affirmation of the profession of the designer and the reconstruction after the Second World War;

The Scandinavian organic design and its protagonists;

American design: patents and the American method; Ford and Taylorism; From the Streamline to the birth of a new language; Charles and Ray Eames and the design forniture;

Italian design: between the nineteenth and twentieth centuries;
Futurism, the myth of the primacy and the years at the turn of the First World War; From the Exhibitions of the Decorative Arts of Monza to the Milan Triennials before the Second World War;

Italian design: the reconstruction of the country after the Second World War; A special case: Olivetti, from mechanical tradition to electronic innovation;

Italian design: the protagonists, from the masters of the Bel Design to the arrival of the protest; A special case: Dino Gavina, an industry of ideas;

Italian design: the eighties and the internationalization of Italian design; The end of the second millennium and the beginning of the Makers era;

History and tendency of the arts

The Renaissance and the Mature Classicism up to the High Manner. The system of the Shops and of the artistic production up to the first Academies, in Florence and Rome. The role of models, some techniques.

The affirmation of the role of design in the academies and the separation between invention and production in the real Manufactures.

Neoclassicism, Enlightenment, Picturesque and sublime. Grand Tour ..

800: Romanticism, concepts of picturesque and sublime, Pre-Raphaelites, Symbolism.

Impressionism and Postimpressionism (up to Ensor, Gauguin, Van Gongh and Munch).

Secessions, especially Vienna.

Avant-gardes (Expressionism in France and Germany, Cubism, Futurism).

Avant-gardes (Neoplasticism, Constructivism, Dadaism, Surrealism, Metaphysics.

Return to order (Gruppo Novecento, Sironi) and Post World War II in Italy (Gruppo Corrente, Forma Uno, Mac).

Spatialism (Fontana and Rothko).

Informal and Pop Art (America-Europe)

Didactic methods

Lectures and guided tours are provided.

Learning assessment procedures

The exam consists of a written, intermediate, test and a final oral examination.

Not attending students should contact the professor in order to receive an individual reading list in view of the final examination.

Reference texts

The bibliography will be integrated during the course with specific indications on the topics covered. The study of the texts will be facilitated by the iconographic material produced for the lessons (pdf lessons).
Basic texts to study
De Fusco, Renato, Storia del design, Laterza, Roma-Bari 2001 (1985);
Maldonado, Tòmas, Disegno Industriale, un riesame, Feltrinelli, Milano 1999 (1976);
Vercelloni, Matteo, Breve storia del design italiano, Carrocci, Roma 2008;
Vitta, Maurizio, Il progetto della bellezza, Einaudi, Torino 2002;
Complementary texts (to be used for further information)
Castelnuovo, Enrico (a cura di), Storia del disegno industriale, 3 voll., Electa, Milano 1989-1991;
Chigiotti, Giuseppe, Design. Una storia, Franco Angeli, Milano 2010;
Heskett, John, Industrial design, Rusconi, Milano 1990;
Morteo, Enrico, Grande atlante del design, dal 1850 a oggi, Electa, Milano 2008;