Lovelist
Lovelist
Your lovelist is empty: give into the urge!
LOVELIST
YOUR BASKET
Your basket is empty: Start shopping now!
CHECK YOUR BASKET
PIANOPRIMO
The culture of the 999 cities: stories from the history of Italian design
top banner arrow
Estimated reading time
4 Minutes

The culture of the 999 cities: stories from the history of Italian design

It was one of Italian design’s most memorable days. It was certainly a one-off. Late June, 1989; Aspen, Colorado, USA. Invited by curators Paolo Viti and Bill Lacy, sitting among the stalls and platforms of the open-air pavilions at the International Design Conference in Aspen (IDCA) are Gae Aulenti, Ettore Sottsass, Italo Lupi, Mario Bellini, Alberto Alessi, Bruno Danese, Andrea Branzi, Antonio Colombo, Aurelio Zanotta, Michele De Lucchi, Achille Castiglioni and a very young Paola Antonelli.

Each one of them plays several roles: speaker, expert, artist, designer, interested observer, enthusiast, audience. A week of encounters, demonstrations and informal talks explains to Americans and the wider world the principles on which Italian design is founded - as written by Antonio Macchi Cassia. It’s an exceptional week: today you can simply type any of these names into Google to discover one of the stories of Italian design, and lose yourself in a whirl of creativity and entrepreneurship. And in that week, all those stories were sitting together in one place.

Bean Bag, large
Lampadina table lamp
Tolomeo Mega Led floor lamp

The culture of the 999 Italian cities

Eight years had passed since the same couple of curators had held their first symposium on design in Italy. It was a great success, reported in contemporary news pages. And so, we could say that the two architects and products of the Olivetti industrial and cultural world let their hair down and turned their minds to something more exciting. No rules, just mystery and creativity.

Italo Lupi is the art director responsible for creating a small and unusual book: The Italian Manifesto or: the Culture of the 999 Cities. It's not a poetic title lacking content: the first part is a declaration of intent. The second - even today - represents the world of Italian design (and perhaps Italian politics, economics, society…).

It required a phrase that could modify and emphasise our intentions, to provide a frame for what makes Italian design different from other kinds of design and why this is.
Paolo Viti e Bill Lacy
Falkland floor lamp - Fireproof version
Tavolo con Ruote coffee table
April foldable chair

The culture of the 999 cities, in other words the ability to create diverse works and to operate in many disciplines, to give expression to art forms and personalities that are seemingly irreconcilable, but recognisably Italian. The legacy of cultural diversity - a defining trait in Italy - which in those years spread like a virus in the world of Italian design. A poetic phrase that concealed a serious discourse, yet without forgetting its irony:

And for the literal-minded, it opens the possibility of a debate on the question of whether there are really 999 individual cities in Italy, or only 989.
Paolo Viti e Bill Lacy
Achille Castiglioni e Paola AntonelliAchille Castiglioni and Paola Antonelli

Achille Castiglione’s lesson

The most vivid memory of that week we have today. An amateur video, restored by Flos for the second edition of the Milano Design Film Festival, of an inofrmal talk by Achille Castiglioni, introduced by Paola Antonelli (currently curator of the Department of Architecture and Design at the MoMA in New York). A small piece of the history of Italian design which still conveys the contagious enthusiasm that should mark every creative act.

Arco floor lamp
Servomuto coffee table
Aoy Table Lamp
Taccia Led Table Lamp - Black
Taraxacum 88 S2 Pendant Lamp
Mezzadro stool
PRODUCTS CITED IN ARTICLE
SHARE
See it on the shop
Go up Back to
Dedicated Customer Service

Any doubts or questions? Contact us!
Tel 020 3095 5815
Mon-Fri 8am-12pm | 1pm-5pm
customercare@lovethesign.com

100% Original Products

We select the best design brands and work together with them. Why? In order to grant you 100% original products, with two times the certified quality, by both them and us.

Delivery and returns made easy and refundable

We offer a reliable delivery service and the shipping is on us for orders over €200*. If you aren't satisfied, returns are easy. *conditions may apply, please read the FAQs for more information.

Secure payment
Payments