Thursday, March 8, 2012

the Compasso d’Oro award | La Rinascente, later the Italian Association for Industrial Design (Associazione per il Disegno Industriale, ADI) | introduction

The Compasso d’Oro Award is the most prestigious acknowledgement dedicated to design, products, research and merit; its international prestige is unquestioned. The Compasso d’Oro was mainly the idea of architect Gio Ponti, Vice Director General of the La Rinascente department store in Milan, Cesare Brustio, and the art critic Augusto Morello, as a result of a successful popular exhibit, “Aesthetics of the Product” held in 1953 at La Rinascente.  La Rinascente  is a department store founded in Milan in 1865 by brothers Luigi and Ferdinando Bocconi. It was the first department store to open in Rome in 1887.  The word La Rinascente is derived from Rinascita which translated to English means “rebirth.” The store took its current name in 1917 when it was called this by the famous Italian poet Gabriele D'Annunzio after a serious fire.

The Award was established in 1954 by Aldo Borletti of La Rinascente to provide an incentive to “product aesthetics” and Italy’s nascent industrial design. The aim of the Compasso d’Oro was “to honor the merits of those entrepreneurs, craftsmen and designers who, in their work, by applying a new and particular artistic commitment, give their products such qualities of form and presentation as to make them unitary expressions of their technical, functional and aesthetic characteristics” (from Aims and Objectives of the Award, 1954). 

The first four editions of the Award were held on an annual basis and organized by La Rinascente itself. In 1958-59, the organization was shared jointly with ADI, the Italian Association for Industrial Design (Associazione per il Disegno Industriale), established in Milan in 1956. The award was turned over completely to ADI in 1964, which has looked after its management and its archive ever since: collecting the materials (objects, drawings, photos and other documentation), appointing the juries, organizing the award ceremonies and the related exhibitions and catalogues.

Prior to 1970, selection juries were drawn exclusively from Italian design.  Juries have since broadened to include foreign designers and individuals working in related fields.   Award criteria have also been broadened to include products designed by non-Italians but manufactured in Italy, and vice-versa, underscoring the internationalization of the Compasso d’Oro.Premio Compasso d'Oro ADIThe Award’s logo, which relates to Adalbert Goeringer’s compass and to the golden section, was created by the graphic designer Albe Steiner.  The three-dimensional Golden Compass is the work of the architects Alberto Rosselli and Marco Zanuso.

Italian stamp commemorating the Premio Compasso d'Oro ADI.  Issued July 12, 2011.

Italian stamp commemorating the Premio Compasso d'Oro ADI.  Issued July 12, 2011.

While not an award necessarily given to objects made of synthetic materials, it is surprising how often plastics reveal themselves in Compasso d’Oro selectees.  The next 7 posts labeled “Comapsso d’Oro” will feature by decade the award winners from the 22 ceremonies that have thus far been held.  The format of the entries is:  Name object, designer, producer, location.

Every effort has been made to ensure accuracy and translation.  Please comment with any error you may encounter.

Compasso d'Oro awards

Search Compasso d'Oro award winners above

The 1950s
I Compasso d’Oro (1954)
II Compasso d’Oro (1955)
III Compasso d’Oro (1956)
IV Compasso d’Oro (1957)
V Compasso d’Oro (1959)

The 1960s
VI Compasso d’Oro (1960)
VII Compasso d’Oro (1962)
VIII Compasso d’Oro (1964)
IX Compasso d’Oro (1967)

The 1970s
X Compasso d’Oro (1970)
XI Compasso d’Oro (1979)

The 1980s
XII Compasso d’Oro (1981)
XIII Compasso d’Oro (1984)
XIV Compasso d’Oro (1987)
XV Compasso d’Oro (1989)

The 1990s
XVI Compasso d’Oro (1991)
XVII Compasso d’Oro (1994)
XVIII Compasso d’Oro (1998)

The 2000s
XIX Compasso d’Oro (2001)
XX Compasso d’Oro (2004)
XXI Compasso d’Oro (2008)

The 2010s
XXII Compasso d’Oro (2011)


Associazione per il Disegno Industriale. “Guida XX Edizione Premio Compasso d’Oro.”

Menkes, Suzy. “La Rinascente: Rebirth of a Milan department store.” New York Times [New York] 27 July 2007, Web. 6 Mar. 2012. http://www.iht.com/articles/2007/07/27/arts/Fstore.php

Compasso d’Oro. Retrieved from  http://www.adi-design.org/compasso-d-oro.html

Rome Central retrieved from http://www.romecentral.com/shopping_dept.php

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