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Design and new processes between culture and service

Abstract: Places and services in Palermo are abuzz with new activities and processes. A territory almost devoid of industries, marked at the beginning of the 20th century by the Workshops Ducrot, seems to now have grasped the value of the word design and has begun to experiment with its various forms. The word Design (project) in the city candidate as 'European Capital of Culture 2019', is not only cool, fashion or for a few but has been transformed into: lab, creative industries, self-generation, service design, co-design.

Companies and cultural associations are linking their activities with the world of design, sometimes unconsciously, other times in an almost natural way they turn into companies that are able to provide goods and services in an innovative way. Let’s see who are the actors and places where this change is occurring.
We will start from Addiopizzo, a voluntary association spontaneously born to support the fight against the racket of Mafioso blackmail, producing goods and activities with brand name Addiopizzo. The association publishes the lists of the names of the professionals and companies that take position against Mafia and organises the Party of critic Consumption “I will pay those who won’t pay” that is based on the idea of “common good”, example of shared management aiming at overcoming the Mafioso system. Through its services Addiopizzo Travel, a rich calendar of trips to the places symbol of the struggle against Mafia through the discovery of a territory that is resisting blackmail money, the association is turning into social enterprise, thus attaining the world of design of services with a project of ethical tourism. Since 2005 the visual communication of Addiopizzo has been looked after by Fausto Gristina, member of the Committee Addiopizzo and visual communication expert for FAI, Federation of Italian Antiracket Associations.
NEXT | New Energies for the Territory is an association dealing with development strategies and interventions for the innovation and sustainability of the organisations and the social contexts. It has carried out some research on “artefacts of history within the internationalisation processes of Palermo” realised with the support of the Foundation Banco di Sicilia. Starting from a mapping of the architectural places and goods turned into multi-purpose museums and urban parks, the association has developed the app Urban City Guide Palermo, a guide that tells about Palermo as a different city, that is to say a city that has been transformed, with the recovering of the ex-industrial areas, new generation urban parks and public spaces, co-working, design hotels, bars and shops.
Aware of mixing together cultural practices and design, RE FEDERICO co-work is a project by CLAC (Lab Centre of Contemporary Arts), a cultural enterprise engaged in Palermo since 2003. The aims of its project are: to test new practices of social innovation, to support the emerging lifestyles of the creative young people, to create a virtuous example of participatory economy based on new themes that put together designers and architects of sustainability sharing the same aims and projects. Some of the co-work activities propose mappings for young people (Use-it), practices of co-distribution of products of the territory and research and project tables about agrindustrial design.
Accommodation places in the city turn into places for experimenting new cultural processes. N38E13 “micro hotel” and association of social promotion within a historical building of Maqueda street, becomes a place of creation, use and connection between arts. The space devoted to visual and sound arts and to design will house residences, laboratories, exhibitions and meetings about culture, tourism and territory in an innovative way.
With the aim to carry out some good practices and a conscious design, between training and meeting, sensibiliambienti, puts in practice new forms of co-production. It is an agency of exhibit design of sustainable creative spaces and it deals with logistic support, training, distribution and design for a new ethic system of out-fitting.
New forms of design-handicraft, in a little lab in the historical centre, draw inspiration from the local materials that are poor and typical and turn into miniminimondi (Miniworlds). Narrow-gauge boxes and postcards that can be sent by mail, contain tiny alternative spaces. The delicate paper works come from the common passion for poor or waste materials of Carmela and Nina, two non-Sicilian women arrived in Palermo a few years ago.
A store that becomes the meeting point between the customer and the stylist. Rizzo Manufacture studio is a crossing between a creative space and a handicraft laboratory where the tailor-made product becomes a service. A place where the creative/manufacturing process followed out in details takes place along with the customer and the realisation of shoes and bags is carried out through hand-crafted processes within the laboratories of Scius.
Sartoria Maqueda is also an experimental Laboratory and co–design along with customers. It is a place where territoriality, design, dressmaking tradition of pret-à-porter with the brand Mitzica give birth to street-dressmaking and creative recycling. Inside the shop it is also possible to ask for stylistic consulting and trend research through the project b-plan.
Artes, an association dealing with the diffusion and promotion of textile art in all its shapes is the result of Giulietta Salmeri’s research and experimentation. Rugs, scarves, wool decorating textiles and cloths, cotton and linen are contaminated by other materials, such as paper and copper through the use of looms with 2, 4 and 8 heddles.
Pradlab is a system of services dedicated to design and manufacturing, belonging to the design and rapid prototyping study of the same name, able to provide support and consulting in every stage of the creative, design and manufacturing process: from the concept to the final product.
Whereas cultural enterprises and associations with the attitude of creative operators are transforming the concept of enterprise, there is also someone who has made their own design work turn into a brand, as in the case of the brand OJI, set up by the designer Giuseppe Pulvirenti together with the cabinet-maker Carlo Caruso Jr. This brand produces and markets the products that arise from the confrontation with other cultures, characterised by a fusion of ideas, shapes, atmospheres and colours, according to a will expressed by the brand itself: for Oji is the name of a metro-station of Tokyo, while in Italian the pronunciation is ‘oi’ that means ‘today’ in the ancient Sicilian dialect. Oji products are marketed by Spaziodeep, a special concept-store promoting design on the island through its own magazine and blog.
Maribelle 615 designed and produced by two young designers, Francesco Belvisi and Vito Pavia, is an innovative sailing boat, 6,15 m long, characterised by tube-shaped tires that make it a mix between a sailing boat and a rubber boat. Pointed out in the adi index 2011, the first model of the boat has been self-manufactured by YAM, a company born thanks to the company start up of the University of Palermo and assisted by the Consortium Arca.
The reuse of spaces with new modalities and the restart of old handicrafts seem to be the key-point of studio427, born in Palermo in a space of industrial archeology in Brancaccio, that has moved to an old carpentry in Alloro street. Founded by the Swiss designer Alfred von Escher with the cooperation of Raffaella Guidobono as advisor of the study in the communication strategy, it is an atelier/studio of co-design, where old furniture is recovered: wooden platforms, pallet, no longer used scaffolding boards, no longer used cloths and equipment of theatre sets are employed for new purposes, with simple forms suitable for daily uses, such as the furniture line Leftover, presented in the last Milan Design Week.
Pivviccì products originate from the same passion for design and attention to the eco-sustainability of manufacturing. They are totally hand-made with materials recycled by local artisans.
The first project developed by the group Snap, made up of very young designers of the island is Metroquadro proget, a series of furniture pieces to be put together, thought to be within a plywood sheet, whose dimensions are multiple or sub-multiple of the square meter. Easy to be assembled and stored, they express the will to limit the production wastage.
cut&paste  is the studio of three young designers that deal with the topic of “self project”, projects animated by games and creative activities to be shared with those who buy them: Patella is a lampshade made up of several ribbons of notched paper to be self-assembled and Wally is a vinyl sticker to be self-applied, both self-manufactured by the studio that works above all in the field of visual and exhibition design.
Freelance designer, Gandolfo David without forgetting or referring to traditions (as in the products designed by him for the brand OJI together with Giuseppe Pulvirenti), mixes together shape, material and colour in an interesting collection of “illumination” tiles. Designed for the Studio Le Nid, an atelier created in the mid-sixties that is still working between tradition and experimentation.
Designer of exterior and interior furniture, Roberto Serio has some important partnership with leader companies within the national and international panorama. He designs exterior furniture collections for Talenti, luxury collections or the legendary company Turri and for Visionnaire.
The “germ” of design in Palermo has a long history. Since the eighties, there have been many designers and companies at international level that have been spreading the germ of the “project” within the design courses with several moments of high training, information and experimentation.
From the sustainable awareness to the research of new recipes anti-crisis: reuse of spaces with new modalities, restart of old crafts, employment of new technologies, experimentation of new cultural processes, services for the territory, that is how design shapes itself in Palermo.

It’s no coincidence that within the Cultural Yards of Palermo, the idea of a start up of creative enterprises becomes a new incubator. Cre-zi, managed by the Consortium Arca, already coordinator of the incubator of the University of Palermo, in collaboration with the innovation lab Catamiati, aims at encouraging the birth of new enterprises in the fields of the economy of knowledge, such as show, fashion, design, audiovisual and editorial production.

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