Bocconi in 8 Design Expressions

Eight objects, ideas, advertising campaigns, and design personalities tell the story of some of the foundational values of Bocconi University.


For the 2024 Design Week, coinciding with the Milan Furniture Fair from April 15th to 21st, Bocconi University and SDA Bocconi have chosen to highlight their focus on the world of design with an exhibition. Eight objects, ideas, campaigns, and personalities were specially selected by the architect and designer Roberto Palomba, co-founder of Studio Palomba Serafini and winner of the Compasso d’Oro award. These will be displayed at the entrance of the SDA Bocconi headquarters for the duration of Design Week.

"Design permeates our consumption experiences and our lives," emphasizes Antonella Carù, Vice-Rector for Development and Alumni Relations and head of the University's Arts and Humanities committee. "It is an expression of creativity, culture, and managerial skill, or rather, of a multidisciplinary approach, a typical aspect that characterizes knowledge development in our university."

The exhibition will revolve around eight elements: for example, the famous Zanotta bean bag, chosen by Architect Palomba, who curates the exhibition, as a symbol of the University's free choices and independence; the ethical approach of the Spanish company Teixidors, known for its textile production, exemplifies the ethics and rigorous approach to respecting principles of legality, honesty, and integrity of the University; the advertising campaigns created by the Ikea brand, among the first to grasp the changes in society and take on a directional role. Furthermore, the Kartell catalog becomes synonymous with freedom of expression, pluralism, and harmony in diversity. The social commitment of the CC for Education Foundation by the Italian company CC-Tapis becomes an example of the solidarity and enhancement of diversity typical of the Milanese university; young designer Sabine Marcelis exemplifies the focus on merit and the development of individual capabilities. Finally, symbols of Bocconi's strive for quality and social responsibility are respectively Poltrona Frau, recognized for its history-long focus on both product and work quality, and Carl Hansen, showcasing the productive work of the Foundation towards eco-compatibility themes.

To celebrate the exhibition, on Thursday, April 18th at 6 PM, "Value by design," a meeting open to enthusiasts and the entire sector community (here is the link to register) will take place, featuring speeches by Bocconi's Rector, Francesco Billari, and the Dean of SDA Bocconi, Stefano Caselli. The event will also be an opportunity for the University to express its intention to establish the 'Bocconi Design Award' from 2025 onwards, rewarding companies committed to the sector.

"Design is a sector that has always aroused great interest from Bocconi University," explains Rector Francesco Billari. "A universe rich in professionalism and entrepreneurial excellences that has always helped to highlight our country. I want to remember that this year marks the 25th anniversary of the founding of Cleacc, our three-year degree course in Economics and management for art, culture, and communication: an anniversary that testifies to the long-standing attention that Bocconi dedicates to professionals in the world of culture and artistic expressions through its educational offering."

"For SDA Bocconi, the point is not only that design and creative industries, the core of Made in Italy, are an important subject of study and teaching in a management school like ours," says SDA Bocconi Dean, Stefano Caselli. "Among the characteristics of a school are its transversality and its community nature. Those who approach us do so not through the act of consuming a course, but as a step in a journey that sees us engage not only on training themes but also those of culture in a broader sense and personal passions." 

"There is a line of connection that links design, its community, and a university like Bocconi," explains architect Palomba. "I was tasked with identifying the node that can relate these worlds, carefully selecting eight realities that represent excellence in design today, linked to some of the University's foundational values. Recognition of projects and people representing the state of the art and what we want as foundations for the future of this relationship. I believe that the new manageriality, which design needs today to evolve, has a natural place in Bocconi, and I consider it fundamental for the future of this sector. This selection represents more than an award, a recognition as a starting point for a common path that sees greater and mutual interaction. I take this opportunity to thank all the participants involved who contributed with their enthusiasm to this Edition zero."

However, the exhibition and the event on April 18th will not be the only moments that Bocconi will dedicate to the theme of design. On April 16th and 17th, the Domus Breakfasts will return, breakfasts to discuss design organized at SDA Bocconi together with Domus. On April 16th, from 9 to 10:30 AM, the discussion will focus on 'Design of evolution and evolution of design, from aesthetics to neuroscience' (here is the link to register), while on April 17th, also from 9 to 10:30 AM, the debate will revolve around 'Sustainability and AI: the challenges of design in the 21st century' (registration at this link).

SDA Bocconi School of Management

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