From design “by and for the few” to design applied in every imaginable sector. That is the fundamental difference between the first and the twentieth edition of the ADI Compasso d’Oro, a difference made clear by this year’s event which celebrate the institution’s half century.

The point was underlined by the fact that this year’s Compasso d’Oro awards went to products as diverse as motor vehicles, urban and domestic furniture, lamps, components, graphic designs and exhibition layouts. Even so, it was clear that there were still fewer awards in graphic design, visual communication and websites than those sectors deserved, possibly because selection procedures have failed to keep pace with changing industrial realties. “Website designs” we read in the Jury report, “were unimaginative and less than user-friendly, revealing an inability to distinguish between a printed page and an interactive screen”.

Of the 16 awards, three went to motorised transport: Giorgetto Giugiaro’s Brera for Alfa Romeo and Bertone’s New Panda for Fiat, as well as German Frers’ sailing boat for Wally. The innovative composition of this year’s jury (all of them Museum Directors from around the world, except for Chairman Richard Sapper, the only designer) obviously influenced the outcome of the selection process.

“While, in general the jury noted a healthy variety of well-designed objects”, stated the report, but they also “encountered a certain imbalance in the range of products presented, which suggests over-investment in areas like seating design (…) matched by lack of interest in the design of instruments and domestic articles”. The jury also noticed a scarcity of original and well designed items in the electronics and electrical equipment sectors, as well as the total absence of entries from sectors like tools and instruments.

The article continues in Auto & Design no. 149

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