In keeping with the commitment to promote strategic design, the Embassy of Italy, in collaboration with the Malaysia Italy Design Institute (MIDI) of Universiti Kuala Lumpur (UniKL) celebrated the fifth edition of the Italian Design Day 2021 (IDD) with the theme “Project and Matter: new challenges for the sustainable restart of the Made in Italy.”
Focusing on the connection between design and sustainability to minimise waste and consumable, non-renewable resources, and to create healthier, more productive environments, the live webinar commenced with welcome speeches by Datuk Dr. Roziah Omar, president/CEO of UniKL, and Cristiano Maggipinto, the Ambassador of Italy to Malaysia. This was followed by a series of insightful talks led by Professor Silvia D’Ambrosio of Politecnico of Milan, who is the Ambassador of Design for this year’s edition, alongside Professor Luca Fois, also from Politecnico and the Ambassador of Design in previous years.
Other guest speakers included Ar. IDr Dr. Tan Loke Mun, principal of DrTanLM Architect, director of ArchiCentre, founder and director of DTLM Design Group; IDr Joe WH Chan, honorary treasurer of the Malaysia Institute of Interior Designers (MIID) and principal of DesignTone Interior Practice; and Professor Ts. Dr. Khairul Aidil Azlin of PEREKA, the Malaysian Association of Industrial Designers.
Datuk Dr. Roziah Omar lauded the Embassy, ITA, the Italy Malaysia Business Association and other stakeholders for their strong support in the realisation of IDD 2021 by saying, “I believe this collaboration and similar industry partnerships between MIDI and similar Italian entities, not only raise the standards of our academic quality but also ensure our students will be relevant to future job needs, enhance our graduates’ employability, and boost the growth of our nation. We hope to foster more initiatives: student internships, summer programmes and academic mobility with many more Italian partners in the near future.”
(Video: Italian Design Day 2021 Malaysia webinar. Source: Embassy of Italy in Kuala Lumpur)
SUSTAINABILITY – THE WAY FORWARD
Commending UniKL on their proactive role in supporting IDD, His Excellency Cristiano Maggipinto cited three key words critical to this year’s event: “Made in Italy,” “sustainability,” and “restart.” According to His Excellency Cristiano Maggipinto, “After the pandemic, our plans to recover and restart have to be sustainable, going forward. Hence the theme of IDD 2021 is especially important considering this year is crucial for the defence of the environment, in the fight against climate change and the promotion of authentically sustainable development: all themes central to the events of COP-26, which is co-chaired by the United Kingdom and Italy. Italy will be hosting the Pre-COP and the Youth4Climate meetings in Milan between September 28 and October 2, and it will play an essential part in the COP-26 meeting the following November in Glasgow.
“Design can play an important role in daily life. Everyday objects have to be sustainable starting from their conception, if we really want to take into account the environmental impact. It would be good if our young UniKL students can be at the forefront of this revolution and dramatically reduce the impact on the environment through their sound, sustainable designs before we go into producing the actual goods. We don’t want to make products that end up being disposed of into the oceans or thrown into the rivers.”
SMALL STEPS MAKE BIG CHANGES
In her talk titled The Culture of Sustainability: Daily and Designerly Practices for Greener Communities, Professor Silvia D’Ambrosio said, “Small and simple daily actions have the power to change the production chain. Now young people are the ones raising awareness on environmental, social, energy and mobility issues. Led by movements such as the one inspired by Greta Thunberg, they have turned the spotlight on the need to redesign the world in a fair and more sustainable way. In fact, it is the youngest (Generation Z) who are willing to pay more for environmentally-friendly and sustainable products.”
(Video: The Culture of Sustainability: Daily and Designerly Practices for Greener Communities by Professor Silvia D’Ambrosio. Source: Embassy of Italy in Kuala Lumpur)
In addition, Professor Silvia cited Naturalmente Sostenibile (a small Italian store), Susso (a growing Italian enterprise offering low-waste, household products) and Gglaska (a young Italian influencer) for managing to create a paradigm shift through their own values, actions and packaging such as reusable, cruelty-free, second-hand and plastic-free amongst others. “Let people become the experts on products and services,” said Professor Silvia. “The urban space must reclaim its humanity using mobile, digital technology and interactive tools to engage with individuals, groups and organisations.”
“For instance, cities are already testing transitional social innovations by introducing the back-to-basics ‘15-minute city’ concept where essential lifestyle needs – living, working, childcare, learning and recreation – are all fulfilled within a 15-minute walk or bike ride. In this context, the design culture has evolved from a practice of designing things to one that’s helping to tackle complex societal challenges.”
DESIGN WITH THE BIG PICTURE IN MIND
In his presentation titled Kids Design & Sustainability: From Creativity to Product-Service System Design, Professor Luca Fois, Faculty of Design, Events Design Class of Politecnico of Milan, said, “Sustainability is a long process, involving a lot of steps. Kids represent the present and future as does sustainability.”
“Creativity and design will determine the project feasibility. Aspects that affect sustainability include materials, technologies, energy, transport, use, life cycle, waste and disposal. The main goal of design is to create the Best Possible Ballast (BPB), to balance opposite values.”
(Video: Kids Design & Sustainability: From Creativity to Product-Service System Design by Professor Luca. Source: Embassy of Italy in Kuala Lumpur)
SUSTAINABLE LIVING SPACES
Ar IDr Dr. Tan Loke Mun, founder and director of DTLM Design Group, espoused on the importance of well-designed living spaces for mental health in his talk titled In The End Nature Wins. Drawing from his experiences and observations during the pandemic, Dr. Tan said there should be a new Mixed-Use typology that incorporates the essence of a whole village or community in one building that combines future office and residential uses and should feature more integration of indoor and outdoor spaces, more natural ventilation for better indoor air quality, create more shared spaces such as museums, libraries, art galleries and gardens, limit work meetings to less than 45 minutes, dedicated online delivery and receiving office, and set-up screening and sterilizing rooms.
(Video: In The End Nature Wins by Ar IDr Dr. Tan Loke Mun. Source: Embassy of Italy in Kuala Lumpur)
MALAYSIA meets “made in italy”
IDr Joe WH Chan, Honourary Treasurer of the Malaysia Institute of Interior Designers (MIID), who spoke about his business tour to Milan in October 2019, recalled his visits to an Italian marble quarry, several famous Italian manufacturers of spa and bathroom furnishings, sanitary ware, luxury furniture, quality cabinetry and hi-tech doors. Chan said, “As interior designers and architects, we know Italians are renowned for their design, workmanship and craftsmanship. After meeting the founders, owners and the people behind the scenes at those Italian companies, we realised they are already evolving and advocating new and sustainable ways to manufacture their products.”
(Video: My Experience of the Italian Spirit by IDr Joe WH Chan. Source: Embassy of Italy in Kuala Lumpur)
So inspired was Chan by the experience that upon his return, he chose to incorporate more environmentally-conscious, sustainable “Made in Italy” products in his first-of-its-kind hair salon renovation project. “It was a knowledge and technology transfer exercise where Malaysians were trained in Italy to apply the stone finishing. When faced with the pandemic, sheer grit and survival instinct will push us to pivot and innovate. We can adapt, restart, act quickly and decisively.”
(Video: Preview of the Milan Furniture Fair 2021. Source: Italian Design Day Official)
MAKING THE MOST OF NATURAL MATERIALS
Professor Ts. Dr. Khairul Aidil Azlin of PEREKA touched on the sustainable strategies of managing existing resources,and making better use of sustainable materials like bamboo. Besides highlighting how sago waste can be transformed into floor tiles and acoustic panels, he also shared how sago starch and sago waste can be used to replace paraffin wax to improve the production of local batik. In addition, the professor also touched on the bamboo and screwpine (mengkuang) as sustainable materials.
(Video: Sustainability, Who Cares? by Professor Ts. Dr. Khairul Aidil Azlin. Source: Embassy of Italy in Kuala Lumpur)
Click here for the full video of the Italian Design Day 2021 Malaysia webinar.