Remember Figaro, the barber of Seville. Everyone was looking for him. Everyone wanted him. And Figaro answered to everyone's requests, adapting himself flexibly to whatever people asked from him. These days, so says Aurelio Magista in the Italian Repubblica newspaper, design is increasingly Figaresque: much desired, and very adaptive both as a local force of transformation, and as a global lingua franca.
One of the players "looking for design" is the European Commission, which is currently working on defining the framework for a shared European design policy. But the new star, the design world, is a bit confused. To clarify the thinking, Turin World Design Capital, organised an international two day conference (6 and 7 November) to reflect on the basic premises of design, which "risks being crushed by the weight of its own success, and to become a mere fashion trend".
Shaping the Global Design Agenda brings some big names together, including David Kester, CEO of the UK Design Council, Ibrahim Al Jaidah, managing director of the Arab Engineering Bureau in Qatar, Peter Dröll, head of the business unit in innovation policy for the European Commission, and Yrjö Sotamaa, president and professor at Helsinki's University of Art and Design, to name but a few.
The conference will take place at the converted Lingotto car factory in Turin; and this location, according to Magista, will infuse the conference with a historical awareness of pragmatism and functionality in design.
Michael Thomson, the conference chair, founder and director of Design Connect, and president of BEDA (Bureau of European Design Associations) - who was interviewed by Magista - shares this vision: "More and more governments are recognising the potential synergy between design and innovation. Design is becoming a strategic force in adding value to regional competitiveness and economic well-being. It also has something to say in other areas such as healthcare and wellness. Obviously design cannot ignore mankind's major challenges: climate change, the global environmental emergency, international migrations and conflicts."