PhD content in brief

Internationalization of design research and education centers.
Promotion of international design networks
Valentina Auricchio

Today, small enterprises and artisans are facing a difficult moment in which they are not able to understand how to survive in a evermore competitive and global market. They no longer have contact with final users, which often live in other territories and belong to different cultures, and do not have the tools to connect and innovate at an international level.
Since the early 70’s, designers around the world have been working in this arena with the aim to help artisans reach new markets and learn how to develop autonomous innovative processes. Through transfer of knowledge and support in creating networks, designers have shown unique capabilities that can support internationalization processes of territories worldwide by:
_identifying new markets and interpreting cultures (EXPORT);
_identifying new technologies (CO-PRODUCTION);
_identifying new cultural context (CO-DESIGN).

In this scenario, design research and education institutions have had a fundamental role in engaging new research paths and developing education programs in the fields of design management and strategic design in order to support international competitiveness. The strive for internationalization has pushed design institutions to enlarge their networks, connect with territories and give students and staff the opportunity to widen their view. By doing so, they have become strategic entities for the internationalization of their countries.
In the knowledge based society, education and research institutions have become important actors in supporting the international competitiveness of their territories by developing innovative researches and forming new professional profiles.
Therefore, design research and education institutions have become gateways for companies interested in connecting and competing internationally.

The main aim of the research is to identify projects in which design institutions have supported the internationalization of productive territories in order to stimulate an international debate in this area.
The area of reference of the research is Social Design and it historically refers to those projects in which designers have had an important role in connecting the periphery with the center. Victor Papanek, Gui Bonsiepe and Victor Margolin have been the main design theorist in this area.
The research developed has aimed to collect projects that have been carried out in the past ten years in this field. Projects that have been developed by design centers, institutions, individual designers that demonstrate that design can have a strategic role in social and economical development. These projects are mainly lead by the desire to help artisans and small producers to reach new markets and to build connections with partners worldwide.
The research has been lead through on field research and interviews of actors involved in the debate and in the projects detected. The projects collected have been saved in an “online platform” (blog of the research which has been the a first interface with the research community.
Fifteen projects selected out of the many projects collected in the blog have been briefly explained through graphs and maps which give a general understanding of the state of the art in this field.

The analysis of the project has been done at different levels:
_geographical map of territories and actors involved;
_chronological map of the projects;
_role of the design actors in the projects;
_results respect to the internationalization of the territories involved;
_aims and objectives of the projects;
_project phases.

The final analysis of the projects aims to give a future view on the trajectories taken by the actors involved, the lessons learnt and the suggestions on how to take forward a debate in this field in order to develop new research and form professionals.
Today, there is a large amount of design centers, institutions and professionals who believe that design can have a strategic role in helping artisans and small companies in building global value chains. This belief has been demonstrated through real projects that show that designers are capable, not only in developing new products and services, but also in building global value chains that allow artisans to access new markets. Through these projects, designers transfer innovation capabilities to communities, enabling them to connect with partners worldwide.
However, this field is still not recognized as a research field in design and there are very few courses which aim to form professionals capable to replicate successful experiences in other contexts. This is also due to the fact that, up to today, design tools applied have not yet been codified.
Although the methods and tools identified in the projects still require confrontation and verification in other contexts, the catalogue of projects collected throughout the research is the first of its kind and the hope is for it to be a starting point for an international debate on design methods and tools applicable in this research area.


The following list of posts are a collection of interesting articles which have been collected during the PhD research. Some of them are Design Centers, others are projects, others are links to websites.
Of these posts, 15 case studies have been picked out to be analysed in depth.


Monday, 16 March 2015

ACRE Made in Amazonia

The aim of the project was both knowledge transfer and the development of minimum four product lines in the field of wood furniture. The project lasted nine months and
went through different phases, from research to workshop sessions, from concept to prototyping. There was a course for around thirty-five participants and over twenty
companies were involved. A team of two designers (an Italian and a Brazilian) ad a specialist in production developed twnty-nine products which were also exhibited during

the Milan Design Week in 2014.


The African Fabbers project is a social innovation and non-profit initiative promoted by Urban FabLab. The project is based on the idea of bridging the African and the European makers communities through workshops, collaborative projects, talks etc.

The workshops were developed in order to share an opportunity to creative clusters from different continents and backgrounds to meet up and share knowledge, to investigate the interaction between African material systems and computer aided design technologies.

The African Fabbers project is curated by Paolo Cascone with Urban FabLab and Maria.
Giovanna Mancini.

The project is supported among the others by: COdesignLab, Fondazione Idis/Città della Scienza (Italy), Fondazione Architetti e Ingegneri Liberi Professionisti iscritti INARCassa.
Among the African partners of the project : Ker Thiossane, Afropixel, Dakar Biennale.
Wasp, as technological partner, will give us the possibility to explore the potentialities of the Big Delta prototype, one of the biggest and most ecological 3d printing machine worldwide.
Among the local partners of the project in Morocco: the ESAV - Ecole Supérieure des Arts Visuels, the CFQMAM - Centre de Formation et Qualification dans les Métiers de l’Artisanat, the Voice Gallery and the Association of Marrakech Biennale.

The African Fabbers project has developed an itinerant fab lab putting emphasis  
on the open source hardware approach for sustainable technologies an urban ecologies.
Therefore we have realized the first two steps participating at both the Marrakech and
Dakar art Biennale where we have organized free workshops opened to African and
European creatives, makers, st dents and artisans selected by the local cultural institutions
and by an open public call.
The workshops were developed in order to share an opportunity to creative clusters
from different continents and backgrounds to meet up and share knowledge, to investigate
the interaction between African material systems and computer aided manufacturing
technologies, to create ecological prototypes through an advanced craftsmanship
approach for sustainable living.

The team:
responsible scientific:
Paolo Cascone / AA-MA PhD-Ing.

Elena Ciancio, Flavio Galdi, Giuliano Galluccio, Andrea Giglio, Imma Polito

Tuesday, 28 October 2014

Design as a Development tool - Giulio Vinaccia

Il design è uno dei settori delle industrie creative che ha più potenziale per il miglioramento delle condizioni di vita dei paesi in via di sviluppo, per questo è stato promosso da università, imprese e governi di molti paesi del mondo come uno strumento per contribuire a combattere la povertà e generare reddito attraverso lo sviluppo di nuove forme di economia creativa. Il lavoro dei due designer da anni promuove la visione del design come attivatore di creatività nelle comunità, trasferendo metodi e approcci del design, con l’obiettivo di stimolare crescita, specie nei paesi con un significativo ritardo di sviluppo. Tale approccio non è solo volto alla creazione di prodotti innovativi, ma anche al dare vita a nuove interazioni tra produttori che provengono da zone diverse e usano tecniche differenti: un progetto inteso come agente di cambiamento della realtà produttiva e come catalizzatore di relazioni tra culture differenti. La metodologia introdotta è adesso utilizzata da agenzie internazionali come UNIDO (United Nations Industrial Development Organisation), da stati come il Brasile, la Colombia e il Pakistan.

Saturday, 1 December 2012

Tajiki Handicraft

Project developed by WhoMade ( and presented in Milano in November 2012.
The project aims to help local craftsmen in Tajikistan to develop new products for the fair trade international market.

Thursday, 5 April 2012

Design & crafts. Where is the (real) news?

Article on design@large in English,

Last night at Design Circle (the circuit of open conferences/debates organized by Patrizia Coggiola and hosted this time by Skitsch) we have been talking about crafts and design. A topic on which, normally, everyone agrees: manual skills have to be respected and supported. Luckily, though, instead of the usual presentation of stunning objects conceived by designers and made by artisans – designed to “rediscover traditions”, the discussion was quickly moved onto more tangible topics on which the participating speakers had different opinions. Here are the questions raised…

When we say craftman who do we mean? The person who works materials by hand following ancient techniques or, rather, the ‘supplier’ who knows everything about new technologies and uses them to make objects with a soul of extreme quality?

Everyone talks about the ‘rediscovery of crafts’. But this is no news (the whole Italian design system is based on the relationship between designers, companies and craftsmen since its dawn). So why is everyone talking about this? Is it an intellectual exercise, a response against globalization and the loss of the sense of quality, in line with Slow Food for instance? Or, rather, a more sinister signal of a great crisis that brings designers to work with craftsmen and use them as mini-production facilities for capsule collections?

The ‘design collections’ made by companies active in the mass market are to be considered marketing operations (conceived for brand image purposes and to attract purchase on more traditional lines) or opportunities to bring the meaning of the word quality within the mass production industry?

Each year in Europe there are 140.000 new designers but very few new craftsmen. What could be done to attract young people towards these professions?

So what would be really new with regard to design and crafts? Wouldn’t it be – rather than a style exercise – the definition of a new model of business, finizione di un nuovo modello di business, storage, distribution, sales and communications?

The real challenge for designers and craftsmen is still making beautiful things or, more practically, finding ways to actually sell them?

Since it’s not very likely that they will manage following hte traditional business model,how can they?

Participants: designers: Francesco Faccin, Giulio Iacchetti, Lorenzo Longo,Chiara Moreschi, Andrea Radice, Harry Thaler; Stefano Maffei (Politecnico di Milano, Subalterno1); Mario Sampietro of Sampietro 1927;Kuno Prey (Head of the Facoltà di Design & Arti della Libera Università di Bolzano).

Wednesday, 28 March 2012

SALONE DEL MOBILE: Design & il sud del mondo

In occasione del Fuori Salone della settimana del Design a Milano, la prima edizione di Design & il sud del mondo mira a promuovere il confronto tra ‘domanda e offerta progettuale’ a sostegno di comunità, territori, piccole imprese e artigiani del sud delmondo.

7-22/4 2012 h.10-24

Circolo ACLI di Lambrate

via, via Conte Rosso 5


Friday, 13 January 2012


10 Designer progettano i banchi delle escuelitas per bambini haitiani e dominicani.
Design e solidarietà internazionale insieme per un progetto di cooperazione tra Italia, Haiti e Repubblica Dominicana.
Mostra a Milano dal 13 al 26 gennaio 2012
I tre progetti che saranno realizzati per le esculeitas di Haiti sono quelli di Claudio Larcher, Matteo Ragni con Maurizio Prina e Simone Simonelli; + menzione speciale per Lorenz Kaz

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Design for Social Business Conference

When the Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Muhammad Yunus stated:
“I believe that we can create a world without poverty, because it is not the poor who created poverty”, it sounded like an utopia since he imagined that a world without poverty could be created through business activities.

Our current economic system is mainly responsible for the wealth pyramid, creating billions of people with little or no income. However, using the capitalistic system and business activities carried out by the poorest is subversive and very successful in overcoming poverty when we follow Prof. Yunus, social business concept, which is carried out by e.g. Grameen Bank or Grameen Danone. The concept of social business is simple but convincing. Social businesses are companies that have the objective to overcome poverty or other problems that threaten people in society. The goal of the company is not profit maximization. Investors in social businesses invest their money in business activities without receiving any dividends. Instead the profit of a social business stays within the company and is solely used to reinforce the social goal of the business. Furthermore social businesses pay market wage, and act it environmentally consciously. The Grameen Bank, the mother of social business, has distributed 8,7 Billion US$ in small loans with a 98% loan recovery, taking out no profit and empowering hundred thousands of people to overcome poverty and illiteracy in the second generation.

In social business, design plays a major role if we take Herbert Simonsdefinition of design seriously: “design is revising existing situations into preferred ones”. From this perspective each business creation is a design activity; each generation of new product or service is a design activity. Therefore, the question of design within the context of social business is manifold and interesting. As it seems Prof. Yunus’ main activities regarding design have been focused on the designing aspect of the business activity, which we could call business design, probably because he is an economic expert.
But there has to be more to it, since there is a huge awareness that environmental sustainability needs to be considered as a further important aspect of the design activity. Looking at many of the established products in the top tier of the wealth pyramid, it seems that the way products and services are designed today cannot be the future solution and cannot be sustained. We cannot generate the same carbon footprint for the world inhabitants as we do in the Western economies. We cannot use up the same amount of water resources in the upcoming economies as we still do in the western countries.
Therefore social business that has the goal to overcome poverty must be accompanied with conscious design activities, considering the half life of all products, considering the limited resources of the poorest, considering different lifestyles, considering the education of the consumer and considering the limited resources of this planet.

During the international design for social business designing conference in Milan, up to 60 international experts from various fields, representatives from the Grameen Creative Lab, multinational companies active in social business, IED, and other design schools as well as many international design experts, will be activelydesigning a new design philosophy and design agenda to frame and reframe design for social business. The organizers think and hope that it will be possible to have a clear notion how design, its methodology, its objectives need to change to design for a better world, without poverty, creating sustainable business activities, services and products.

The position papers will focus on different approaches to important issues in this area, representing the pluralism of approaches that are emerging in our different institutions and in professional practice.

Design with the Souths of the World

Monday, 21 November 2011


COOPI propone l’asta “BAGS For AFRICA” con l’intento di promuovere una moda solidale.
L'iniziativa prevede il coinvolgimento di grandi maisons e stilisti italiani, tra cui i soci di Camera Nazionale della Moda Italiana, che si impegneranno a mettere all’asta un borsa della loro collezione o creata appositamente per l’occasione. Il ricavato dei pezzi battuti sarà interamente devoluto ai progetti di COOPI “Un futuro per le giovani mamme di Ziguinchor” in Senegal e “D come sviluppo. Il futuro della Sierra Leone è Donna”.

Monday, 12 September 2011

Saturday, 25 June 2011


OpenIDEO has partnered with the Holistic Social Business Movement (HSBM) of Caldas – a joint venture between the Grameen Creative Lab and the Government of Caldas, Colombia – to consider how social businesses can improve the health of low-income communities in Colombia and around the world. Together, with your help, we hope to develop a set of implementable and high impact solutions to support and promote social business development and improve health in low-income areas like Caldas, where 26% of the population lives in extreme poverty.


Established and emerging designers are invited to submit innovative and radical examples of ecologically responsible and/or socially responsive designs that address everyday problems or social needs in the spirit of Victor J. Papanek's philosophy.

Saturday, 18 June 2011

Vivienne Westwood's New Ethical Bags Are Now Online

Today, at Pitti Immagine in Florence, Vivienne Westwood launched a new series of bags for herEthical Fashion Africa Project. Handmade by men and women in Nairobi from recycled materials — electrical wiring, tent canvas, aluminum, plastic bags — the accessories are not only environmentally friendly, they're also community-sustaining. "It's not charity, it's work," Westwood says of the project's aim to create jobs in impoverished communities by teaching workers real skills. Ranging in price from $83 to $339, the collection is a colorful melange of chic prints, interesting textures and easy-to-wear shapes. The pieces are available online at, with a special video shot by her campaign photographer, Juergen Teller. Click through the slideshow to see our favorites from the collection.

Design as a Development tool - NEW BOOK

A new book by Giulio and Valerio Vinaccia documenting over 20 projects done around the world in the past 15 years.

Tuesday, 19 April 2011


Using technology we create mass market potential for an easy-to-wear line of clothing based on the idea that each piece is handmade and completely unique. The uniqueness of each item allows us to provide traceability right down to the weaver that hand-wove the fabric. The stories of how that item was created, of the people involved, of the customers who purchased them, are the essence of the the e-commerce social network which we have built as a meeting place for a community that shares our brand values of authenticity, transparency, uniqueness and both social and environmental responsibility.

Sunday, 30 January 2011

Sono pezzi unici creati da Krizia, Gianfranco Ferre' e altri grandi stilisti. Le borse di "Bags For Africa" vanno all'asta giovedi' 27 gennaio a Milano. Il ricavato sosterra' due importanti progetti di COOPI in Senegal e Sierra Leone.

Thursday, 22 July 2010

Tuesday, 22 June 2010

Full Circle - 3 form

Design has the power to transform more than just space.
It can positively change our planet, our environment, and people’s lives. Welcome to 3form Full Circle- a class of sustainable and impactful products, a program, a creed, and a belief put into action.



Sos Design è nato nell’ottobre del 2001. L’ 11 settembre l’occidente era stato colpito e aveva deciso di aprire un fronte di difesa/offesa in Afghanistan. In segno di autonomia etico/economica Emergency aveva rinunciato alla quota di finanziamenti pubblici che riceveva per le attività mediche sui fronti di guerra. In un articolo a tutta pagina su laRepubblica Gino Strada invitava la società civile ad aiutarli a reintegrare i fondi rifiutati. Noi avevamo da poco fondato una società che si occupava di comunicazione con una forte attenzione al mondo del Design, e ci siamo chiesti cosa si potesse fare per risponde all'appello. E così, di domenica, in quei silenzi carichi di soluzioni, abbiamo progettato Sos Design: il primo format di raccolta fondi espressamente attivo nel mondo Design.

Tuesday, 9 March 2010

EcoChic Milan Exhibition

The EcoChic Milan Exhibition will take place within Italy's main sustainable trade fair, called 'Fa' la cosa giusta! meaning to 'do the right thing' on 12th-14th March in Milan.
'Fa' la cosa giusta!, which is open to the public, attracted 50,000 visitors in 2009 and the fair has become a benchmark for the exchange of ideas and solutions for sustainable lifestyles amongst consumers, organisations and institutions in Italy.
The EcoChic Milan Exhibition will consist of 18 of the eco-couture garments that were created specifically for 'EcoChic Geneva', which Green2greener co-organised with the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) at the Palais des Nations, the United Nations' headquarters in Geneva, in January 2010.

Wednesday, 3 March 2010

Fashion Ethic Day - Milano

Two events in Milano in the past months.


One for One

TOMS Shoes was founded on a simple premise: With every pair you purchase, TOMS will give a pair of new shoes to a child in need. One for One. Using the purchasing power of individuals to benefit the greater good is what we're all about. The TOMS One for One business model transforms our customers into benefactors, which allows us to grow a truly sustainable business rather than depending on fundraising for support.

Why shoes?

Many children in developing countries grow up barefoot. Whether at play, doing chores or going to school, these children are at risk:

•A leading cause of disease in developing countries is soil-transmitted diseases, which can penetrate the skin through bare feet. Wearing shoes can help prevent these diseases, and the long-term physical and cognitive harm they cause.

•Wearing shoes also prevents feet from getting cuts and sores. Not only are these injuries painful, they also are dangerous when wounds become infected.

•Many times children can't attend school barefoot because shoes are a required part of their uniform. If they don't have shoes, they don't go to school. If they don't receive an education, they don't have the opportunity to realize their potential.

Friday, 20 November 2009


TUDO A MÃO in ceramics factory 2008 from STRAAT TUDO A MÃO on Vimeo.

REFRESH collection created by designers Lucas Van Vugt, João Parenti and Marcia Gervastok during  straatceramica project and the hanger Cabide STRAAT designed by Takeshi Sumi at straatbambu project can be found at Brazilian TOK&STOK stores.

TUDO A MÃO with bamboo 2008 from STRAAT TUDO A MÃO on Vimeo.

Designer: Takeshi Sumi,Producer: Kotybambu



Tuesday, 10 November 2009

You were impressed by our selection of shawls, cushions and bed linen in the 'Talents à la Carte' showcase at the Maison & Objet Exhibition, September 2009…
 We hope we'll have the pleasure of showing you the full range of our textiles at our private Exhibition & Sale in Paris, 3–5 December, 2009

Sunday, 8 November 2009


WomenWeave is an organization dedicated to empowering and improving the lives of women who weave in rural India. Its goal is to make handloom a profitable, fulfilling and sustainable income-earning activity for women.

Moving towards this objective, WomenWeave follows a holistic approach towards the weavers it works with. Alongside design, skill-enhancement and marketing interventions, WomenWeave also undertakes health, education and childcare initiatives. Overall, the idea is to have happy, healthy and empowered women who make a constructive contribution to their families and to society.

 WomenWeave is a registered Charitable Trust, supporting the role of women in handloom weaving since 2002.

 Headquartered in Mumbai, it has a field office in Maheshwar, Khargone district of Madhya Pradesh.

Saturday, 26 September 2009


Driven by colour and inspired by India, Mumbai-based Lulu McEvoy and London-based Nat Robinson launched Lulu & Nat, a home and lifestyle range for adults and children.
With experience in textile design and retail, Lulu and Nat have created a modern, vibrant collection with an exotic Indian edge. Handcrafted and made in India using traditional techniques, each piece is completely unique and nothing is mass-produced. The result is a beautiful selection of hand-printed bedlinen, embroidered wall hangings and embellished cushions - all in Lulu & Nat's signature Anglo-Indian style.
Since it was set up in 2008, Lulu & Nat's client list has grown and now includes prestigious London stores such as Designers Guild, SCP, the Cross and Liberty, as well as designer childrenswear shop Bonton in Paris

Monday, 7 September 2009


Association of French designers created by Véronique Tesseraud works alongside the weavers of Chiapas to produce 
collections that respect Indian traditions and the new rules of fair trade.
Véronique Tesseraud founded the El Camino association in 1996 to support weavers in Chiapas. New collections have been developed, with the help of volunteer French designers. These ranges weave contemporary aspirations and inspirations from Maya’s textile heritage. Long research work has been carried out to recreate the tones of ancient vegetal stains, providing harmonious hybridisation between tradition and modernity. Distributed in France and Mexico according to fair trade principles, this production allows more than 150 women to have worthy living conditions through the use of their ancestral knowledge.
El CAMINO: el.camino.france(at)

Wednesday, 17 June 2009

Friday, 12 June 2009

Wednesday, 10 June 2009


Ouma Productions s'inspire de la rue indienne.
Le 'charpoy', qui signifie littéralement '4 pieds' est un lit fabriqué à partir d'un cadre de bois sur lequel sont tendues des cordes ou sangles tressées, c'est une pièce essentielle du mobilier indien. On y dort mais aussi on y médite, on y mange, on vit dessus seul ou à 3 ou 4, on le traîne dedans ou dehors et grâce à son tressage ajouré l'air circule entre les cordes ce qui en fait un lit climatisé pour l'été. 
On le trouve dans l'histoire de chaque Indien.


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