Design Excellence

When people think about Italian design, they automatically envision rooms that encapsulate the heights of luxury and cutting-edge haute couture. After all, Italy has long been known as the epicenter of style, fashion and design innovation.

However, today's idea of Italian design excellence encompasses far more than just a clever use of color, shapes and materials. As savvy Italian designers know, true luxury design incorporates not just fabulous products and top-of-the-line aesthetics, but also intrinsic functional value.

Luxury Tour
This is particularly evident in the Italian Trade Commission's "Luxury in Living" exhibition, a world tour exhibit highlighting Italian designers and industries, on display at the Loft Building in Miami through January 12, after which it will travel throughout the U.S. and to London. The exhibit, created to present "a new notion of luxury," is hosted by the Italian Trade Commission in collaboration with Federlegno-Arredo and several other Italian associations for the home industry.

Roughly 200 products created by some 100 designers and manufactured by 90 Italian companies are part of the exhibit, highlighting kitchen and bath fixtures, marble, ceramic tile, lighting, furniture, home furnishings and other home products. Companies featured in the exhibit include Bisazza, Boffi, MDF Italia, Poliform, Snaidero, and others in the kitchen and bath industry.

But while cutting-edge design is clearly evident at the exhibit, this is far from just a show of pretty products and displays. For instance, one kitchen that's part of the tour, from Snaidero USA, features functional and stylistic adaptations for the disabled.

Snaidero's Skyline design, created by Italian designers Roberto Lucci and Paolo Orlandini, is an ergonomic kitchen with sleek contemporary lines and a host of customization options that allow the kitchen to be tailored to meet he needs of wheelchair users and others with special needs.

The kitchen can house a lowered sink basin and features a hood equipped with electronic sensors for lighting and emergency purposes. Cabinetry under the countertops and unreachable wall cabinets are replaced with multi-functional carts and turntables to ensure greater accessibility. A single-piece, wrap-around countertop eliminates sharp edges and corners and allows for greater movement and safety. It also creates a unique and stylish focal point to the room.

The New Luxury
According to Carlo Ducci, curator of the exhibition, "The new millennium is marked by a far-reaching evolution in the concept of luxury. The vision of luxury as pure ostentation is gone; [rather] luxury is more closely focused on qualities of perception and the relation between object and subject, between product and consumer."

As such, the exhibit is designed to show a new definition of luxury not determined by cost or even craftsmanship of the product, but rather by a whole range of values that were once considered secondary: ethical production, research in materials, environmental impact and other characteristics that add value to the object itself.

While Ducci sees "craftsmanship and the quality of detailing" as a unifying concept of the new Italian luxury, he also believes that personalization is a key factor in creating today's luxury designs.

However, in the end, neither beauty nor personalization can come at the cost of practicality. As Ducci concludes, luxury is about "proposing solutions that improve everyday life." KBDN