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Interview with Vincenzo Castellana

Abstract: Vincenzo Castellana is an architect, designer, lecturer and co-founder, together with the executive committee of ADI Sicily, the regional delegation of ADI (Association for Italian industrial design).  For several years, he has been conducting activities aimed at the exploitation of local, territorial resources, both as an architect, through works of architectural recovery and as a designer committed to modernizing outdated productions in the territory. Current President of ADI Sicily, Castellana endeavors to establish communication between the world of little production companies and craftsmanship with the young designers from the schools of art and design.

Alessandra Fazio: Where did the idea for ADI Sicily come from?
Vincenzo Castellana: The story of the Sicilian delegation is almost an anecdote.
ADI has existed since 1956. The delegations were established under directorate of Gianni Forcolini in the early years of 2000. A process began of convening in regional areas, from which the delegations sprung out. The Sicilian delegation was among the last to be formed.
In 2007, designOrientity, a business related to my professional activity, was selected for publication in the volume ADI Design Index, which is in fact a nomination for the Compasso d’Oro (Golden Compass award). DesignOrientity is a permanent laboratory that connects designers and craftsmen, and over the years has developed a collection of objects (about 15).
In the same year, during the Salone del Mobile (Furniture Showroom) in Milan, I was invited to form the delegation ADI Sicily by former President Forcolini.
In parallel, Professor Vanni Pasca, in a predominantly academic ambit, was already working on the birth of ADI Sicily, so I contacted Pasca informing him of my intention to establish the delegation and we were both happy to join forces to come to the establishment of the Sicilian delegation.

What kind of path is ADI Sicily pursuing?
Since its foundation, the delegation is carrying on the initiative “Ferri di richiamo” (Iron tools) with which this year we were guests in Milan at ADI, during the Salone del Mobile. This is a series of meetings aimed at deepening the knowledge and value of some instances of high-quality design and production in the history or modern affairs of our region.
“Ferri di richiamo” in building tradition serve to continue construction over time; in this sense, the meetings proposed by the delegation serve to strengthen that process of signification which not always in the past in Sicily has made its quality and culture recognizable.
With this goal in mind, the delegation has also launched collaborations with the artistic school of Caltagirone, specializing in ceramic production, with design schools of territorial excellence such as the the Abadir Academy and with small and medium production realities.

What prospects are there for design in Sicily?
It is a very difficult question that is almost impossible to answer today, as it does not depend only from ADI and the variables or the combinations necessary so that we can envisage design as the path to value in Sicily are several. The process at the core is one that depends on training. In this regard, we are confident Academies will open to design, in conjunction with the transformation of course curriculums in schools of art and the growth of university courses with a more pragmatic approach and workshops, as well as that of Abadir where young designers may learn how to become themselves entrepreneurs. On the other hand, it is necessary that organizations that no longer operate only on a regional level decide to take advantage of design and to be representatives of this culture. I care in this regard to point out the example of Moak, a producer of coffee, which is set to revolutionize its image entrusting to Bob Noorda the restyling of its logo, the aim being to assert itself as a company that believes in quality. It therefore is a problem of companies maturing and becoming aware that to be active quality planners means promoting a new way of doing business, of communicating and also of manufacturing new products. For some weeks now, the Sicilian delegation of ADI has formalized a partnership with MOAK. The cooperation includes the establishment of a biannual research project which attempts to simulate the project of a Corporate Museum for the company.

So its a matter of business strategy?
Yes, that’s correct! Strategy allows you to reach into new markets and to assert your business. Strategy must be planned out and as such, includes design. Obviously, product innovation is only one of the ramifications of the course of innovation chartered within the company.
Sicilian companies must understand that the only possibility in this situation of economic crisis that we are living is innovation through design.

In this regard, how is ADI Sicily going about the process of spreading awareness among businesses?
I have already spoken of “Ferri di richiamo” which is one of the activities of cultural promotion in which we present case histories that tell more of the collaboration of companies and designers in an event within one showroom in Sicilian territory.
Among other initiatives organized is the event “The product of the ceramic design”, periodically scheduled in Caltagirone in the secondary school of the arts for ceramic design with the aid of various supporters. The initiative provides for the creation of workshops and design exhibitions.
Last year, the first edition of the event saw a partnership with Bitossi, the company that produces ceramics designed by Ettore Sottsass, in addition to those of Karim Rachid and Luisa Bocchietto. This year will feature guest appearance by Alessi, whose ceramic creations are the focus of an exhibition inaugurated on May 18 and the designer workshop of 3 days on the theme: “Tea and Coffee”. The latter involves the best 5 students of 5th year classes of the secondary school, associated with 5 students and 5 craft enterprises chosen on in the Calatino territory, so as to constitute 5 groups of 2 students and a craftsman.
These activities are expected to bring two types of results: the first is to encourage collaboration between young designers and artisans through training activities, in an effort to understand that design must promote a circular process that involves the planning and design stage, production, sale and consumption. If this process is interrupted, the project dies before it even starts; this is the problem that we have been dragging for ages in Sicily.
Moreover, now ADI Sicily is one of the promoters of the III International Competition “Mediterranean Design”, launched every two years by PAD journal for the design of new scenarios of Mediterranean design.

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