The first ‘Design & Territori’ exhibition-convention involved 12 Italian universities and 40 companies, also giving impetus to the creative potential of Sicily

Giuggiola easy chair, by Calia, the result of the collaboration with the students of La Sapienza di Roma

The Design & Territori exhibition-conference is closing today and we can start taking stock of what it has meant to design professors and students of 12 Italian universities, for the companies that supported them and, in particular, for the flywheel effect that the event may have on the creative and productive territory of Sicily.

Palermo, Palazzo Castrone di Santa Ninfa, sede di Design & Territori 2018

It is no coincidence that the project was launched in Palermo and in the region that boasts a millennia-old design and aesthetic tradition, whose development is currently held back by equally historic constraints. D&T is a new way of making universities, companies and professionals meet. It has shown the results obtained by the professors who, for both research and teaching activities, ask design companies to collaborate with students and strengthen their respective territories with innovation. Their projects have finally become commercial products – because concreteness is fundamental.

Design & Territori 2018, Palermo, merchandising museale


The enthusiastic curator of the D&T exhibition-conference is architect Dario Russo, associate professor of Architecture at Università di Palermo (where he teaches Theory and History of Design and holds a Laboratory of Industrial Design at the Scuola Politecnica di Palermo). He wrote Il lato oscuro del design (“the dark side of design”) and Il design dei nostri tempi (“design of our time”), he is a member of AIS/Design (Associazione Italiana Storici del Design) and deals with graphics at an international level. At the end of Design & Territori 2018, what are your impressions?

Dario Russo: The results are very positive. The students are enthusiastic and the teachers involved have already asked me to repeat the experience. Therefore, we are already working on a second edition, in a venue still to be defined. Why has D&T been organized in Palermo?

Dario Russo: The pilot project has taken place here because I am from Palermo, but most of all because I wanted to exploit the double coincidence of Palermo Italian Capital of Culture 2018 and the Manifesta 12 art bienniale. Sicily is a very fertile land, a melting pot of civilizations that have succeeded one another with their unique and sublime aesthetic forms. And not only does it have a glorious past – from the Valley of the Temples to the extraordinary architect-designer-art director Ernesto Basile – but it also has a potentially propulsive present (schools, professionals, small and strong-willed companies, students, virtuous initiatives, etc). It will have a bright future as well, if we bring together the forces at play – overcoming the old and penalizing insular individualism – to animate the territory through design. And other 11 universities have been involved with their respective territories. The idea is to replicate the format every year at a different university.

Architetto Dario Russo, curatore scientifico di Design & Territori 2018 a Palermo With the same spirit, you are also the promoter of 110eLAB and Sicilia InForma: would you tell us more?

Dario Russo: 110eLAB is a non-profit cultural association created to promote Sicilian design and to integrate the activity of my university laboratory with communication. It is a group of young talents, students, recent graduates and professionals animated by the desire to participate in the cultural development of the territory. Over the years we have been organizing workshops, seminars with teachers and designers (Italian and foreign) and an international conference in Favignana. Sicilia InForma is a magazine that spotlights the projects of the Laboratory, designed by students and produced by companies that invest on university and design. These initiatives and Design & Territori are opportunities for the island and for those who intend, by putting their skills into practice, to change the situation.

Il catalogo di Design & Territori 2018 e la medaglia conferitagli dal Presidente della Repubblica

The 2018 Design & Territorio catalog and the medal given by the President of the Italian Republic


Design & Territori has dealt with 6 cross-cutting themes, all very topical in the world of design, not only in Italy:

  • Territorial identity
  • Innovation
  • Languages
  • New entrepreneurship
  • New technologies
  • Social design

The participating Laboratories belong to: Università degli Studi di Palermo; Università degli Studi della Campania Luigi Vanvitelli; Politecnico di Bari; Sapienza Università di Roma; Unicam Università di Camerino; Università degli Studi di Firenze; Alma Mater Studiorum Università di Bologna; Università di Genova; Università degli Studi di Ferrara; Politecnico di Torino; Politecnico Milano 1863; Unibz.

An issue of ‘Sicilia InForma’, the magazine edited by Dario Russo

The opening conference, on November 2nd-3rd, 2018, had a very rich program of speeches and a Scientific Committee made of leading figures of the Italian design scene: Ferruccio Laviani (Art director of Kartell), Vanni Pasca (Scientific Director of Abadir), Rodrigo Rodriquez (Chairman of Material Connexion Italia), Dario Russo (Coordinator of the Bachelor’s Degree in Industrial Design at UNIPA), Paolo Tamborrini (Coordinator of Collegio Design Polito). Design & Territori was organized by 110eLab and sponsored, among others, by ADI and ADI Delegazione Sicilia. [Text Lucia Bocchi]