Salone del Mobile, Fashion Week, the Triennale: Milan is synonymous with design. In May 2021, the Associazione per il Disegno Industriale added to the city’s design map when it opened the ADI Design Museum to the public. The new museum offers a home to the 2300 or so products that have received the prestigious Compasso d’Oro award over the years. Introduced in 1954 – a time when Italian industrial design was in its infancy – the internationally recognised accolade was conceived by Gio Ponti (architect and founder of Domus magazine) and Alberto Rosselli (architect, teacher and co-founder of the ADI).
The Compasso d’Oro – named after Adalbert Göringer’s compass, devised to measure the golden section – is chiefly awarded to consumer products which demonstrate elegance in design and quality of manufacture. A smaller number of Compasso d’Oro Career Awards are bestowed on individuals or companies that have achieved excellence throughout their lifetime. This latter award is the subject of a new exhibition: ‘Career Manifesto. A tribute by Italian graphic designers to the Masters of the Compasso d’Oro’.
Curated by Luca Molinari and Maria Antonietta Santangelo, the exhibition features 139 posters that pay homage to Career Award-winners – specially commissioned from leading graphic designers. The exhibition’s aims are three-fold: to illustrate the history of the awards; to celebrate the award-winners; and to showcase talent in contemporary Italian graphic design.
Some posters are easily interpreted. Chiara Tricarico’s tribute to Olivetti, with its bold typography, bright yet simple colour palette, and dotted grid, conveys a real sense of the movement of brisk and dextrous hands across a typewriter. Gilda Bojardi, director of Interni magazine, stares at the viewer through her distinctive white-frame glasses, in Fulvia Mendini’s colourful portrait.