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VMARK Kick Off & Press Conference



VMARK Kick Off & Press Conference

VMARK Kick Off & Press Conference

Mon 11th March 2019.

Consul General Dante Brandi speech:

Good afternoon.
I am particularly pleased to be given the possibility of delivering few introductory remarks at this important event.
I am very grateful to Ms. Tran Ngoc Danh for the invitation and, most of all, for her leadership in setting up such a crucial event like the first VMARK Interior Design Week on creative aspiration and smart design.
VMARK sets itself as a relevant part of an overall effort of the Vietnam Design Association to further promote the whole Vietnamese design sector in all its expressions: students, designers, academia, private businesses, government and authorities.
I have no particular roles or capacity in design, but for two main factors.
At a personal level, for being passionate about it.
At a professional level, for being an Italian diplomat, meaning a representative of a country that -if you can forgive some degree of immodesty- can arguably be defined as a design superpower.
Therefore, my remarks will not be focused on design itself, on its history and developments.
Other speakers and practitioners, much more qualified than I am, will be able to articulate today and during the VMARK week on the definition of design, on its importance, on the impact design had on our everyday life since the industrial revolution.
You will surely listen from professors and experts the different interpretations and qualifications of design, of which the most convincing and inspiring to me is the fascinating capacity of great design to shape the human life through a pure artistic act of creativity able to combine functionality, aesthetics and beauty.
Today I would instead focus on two different aspects of design.
More precisely, on two capacities of modern design.
The first, more obvious, is the one of being able to create economic value.
The second, perhaps less obvious, is its capacity to be regarded as a diplomatic tool.
On the economic side, thousands of analysis have already investigated not only the economic worth of a distinctive brand, being a fashion, an automotive, a furniture brand, but also the capacity of a recognisible design to act as a driver of economic growth for a brand.
Speaking of my country, just think of Ferrari, the iconic automotive brand, and just imagine how, in addition to the legendary endeavor in racing of a visionary entrepreneur like Enzo Ferrari, the stunning design of Pininfarina has contributed to bring the “prancing horse” brand to be globally popular and named among the 2019 world’s most powerful brands.
Or think about Gucci -the fashion company- and its amazing comeback from a declining situation just five years ago, to be one of the most profitable brand for the Kering group (more than 8 billion USD revenues in 2018 and almost 33 million followers on Instagram) after the appointment of Mr Alessandro Michele as creative director.
So, design counts.
And, here we come to my second point. It counts on foreign policy too.
Again, speaking of my country, you probably all know how Italy relies on soft power, instead of hard power, in its international stance.
Soft power, in the definition of foreign policy expert Joseph Nye, is the ability of a country to persuade other to do what it wants without force or coercion.
It involves characteristics like appeal, preference, attraction, admiration.
It is no mystery how much Italy relies on soft power, in its material and immaterial expressions. Italy’s international posture and visibility rely very much on its culture, traditions, touristic attraction, beautiful landscapes, cuisine, artistic heritage and also, crucially, on design.
But if Italy legitimately promotes design as a crucial component of its culture and its international visibility, you all understand that a promotion without a paralleled demand is not going anywhere.
Luckily, there is still a strong demand of design in the world and –most importantly- there is a growing demand of design in Vietnam.
This is the reason why Vietnam is included among the selected countries where we celebrate every year the Italian Design Day, in March, an initiative taken at a central level by our Ministries of Foreign Affairs and Culture, along with the Triennale in Milan, to promote Italian design through our diplomatic network of Embassies, Consulates, Cultural Institutes, with lectures, talks, workshops, exhibitions, etc.
This is the reason why this Consulate General will partner again with the Vietnam International Fashion Week next April (like we did last year), in order to promote Vietnamese fashion designers and the exchange with Italian designers, especially in shoes and accessories.
This is the reason why Mr. Massimiliano Guzzini, latest generation manager of the great family business brand of lighting Guzzini, will be in town and will be a key speaker at the VMARK in May.
This is the reason why we invited the renowned architect Michele De Lucchi, designer of inspiring architectures like the Bridge of Peace in Tbilisi (Georgia) or the Pavillion Zero at Expo Milan 2015, and iconic objects like the Tolomeo lamp or the Pulcina coffee maker, to deliver a speech in HCMC next week.
VMARK Interior Design Week, as a splendid initiative of outreach and visibility taken by the Vietnam Design Association, is the perfect exemplification of such a growing demand.
Italy stands ready to support and further develop such demand. We aim at be the perfect partner for Vietnam in its ambition to promote a vibrant design sector.
Ladies and gentlemen,
Allow me to conclude with a final remark on how timely is for Vietnam to host the first edition of an international week of design. Vietnam is living a magic moment of growth, optimism and creative challenges.
Great design can definitely be a conducive factor to support and further promote such cycle.
But to produce great design you do not need only creative designers. You also need visionary and brave clients.
Exactly as it happened in Italy, genius designers of present and past generations such as Ettore Sottsass, Achille and Giacomo Castiglioni, Battista Pininfarina, Giorgetto Giugiaro, Alessandro Mendini, Michele De Lucchi, Philippe Starck, Patricia Urquiola, Ron Arad, Karl Lagerfeld, Jean-Marie Massaud, Alessandro Michele, Kostantin Grcic and counting, would have hardly reached the genius territory where they belong without visionary industrialists, clients (including governments) and entrepreneurs like those behind brands such as Alessi, Flos, Artemide, Ferrari, Fendi, Guzzini, Cassina, B&B, Gucci, Aprilia, Ducati, Kartell, and counting.
Only the combination between genius creativity, enlightened commission (especially in architecture) and visionary entrepreneur spirit creates the true great design and architecture.
I genuinely believe VDA will play a crucial part for this combination to happen in Vietnam, starting from the stimulating conversation and awareness the VMARK could certainly bring on the table.
Thank you and best wishes.


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