Who says that a gate cannot be opened to resemble a peacock's plumage? Or that a bookcase made in cardboard cannot be transformed into lots of small stools? A chair seat made of thick plated wool or having the shape of shoe, or a shoe that transpires and has other benefits that are adapted to feet always on the move?
Different materials may be put together in unusual ways, a table can be made of heavy marble blended with light weight carbon and a natural fibre can be incorporated with synthetic glass to create a new material for a magazine rack.
One needs ideas to be innovative as well as having the knowledge of how to use and produce them. This is precisely the spirit that animated Rethinking the Product, a project that was developed by the Prato Trade Centre, that celebrates its fifth edition.
Rethinking the Product is the melting pot of experience and professionalism in which industry and young designers experiment their collaborative efforts in non conventional ways of interpreting concepts of form, materials and the end uses of objects or proposing alternative solutions to problems.
It is within this innovative framework that an apron can have heat sensitive fibres incorporated that alert the user to the close proximity of heat or a space saver foldaway storage bookcase, or a footstool that simulates a grassy field, or a platform that allows anyone to travel by sea thus allowing disabled people to board a boat from the harbour.
All this and much more made up the new prototypes of Rethinking the Product. Prototypes that after the Prato debut that were on display at the Prato Textile museum on 11th September 2012, will be presented in London at the international 100% Design Exhibition that will take place from the 19th to 22nd September 2012 at Earls Court.
Rethinking the Product has once again managed to achieve a winning formula. A formula that works, and was recognised by the European Enterprise Awards 2011 in Budapest. Rethinking the Product encourages industries in different sectors of design to experiment their strengths and to challenge themselves to work with new ideas in the realisation of new products.
Apart from this innovative new approach to design, Rethinking the Product also invited young designers to participate in this challenge. In this manner, 47 prototypes were proposed for the project, which far outnumbered the number of prototypes proposed in previous projects.
The fifth edition of Rethinking the Product involved 60 companies that operate in diverse sectors in five different geographical areas. This year, the Prato Trade Centre also had the support of the Pisa and Pistoia Trade Centres as well as the Lucca and Terni Trade Centres. For the first time, the project collected the energies and the experiences from companies outside of Tuscany. Also the number of young designers that participated in the initiative was nine, two more than last year.
The young designers were selected from among the best talents of the graduates of the Accademia Italiana in Florence - Giulia Manzini, Alfredo Ascari, Giacomo Baldini, Daniele Giannetti, Bilge Gozde Ozdengil, Varvara Verbikskaya, Cla Tschenet, Natalia Chobanu and Diletta Orlandi - who worked on their designs and elaboration of their projects under the expertise and guidance of two international designers, Walter Conti and Tito La Porta, who helped them develop their sketches and projects in order to have them produced in prototypes.
However, the purpose of Rethinking the Product was not only this! After having encouraged the companies to rethink design and production, Rethinking the Product proposed to launch these prototypes on the international market in order to favour their commercialisation.
The prototypes will be on display at the international 100% Design Exhibition in London. After this, the prototypes will then be exhibited in the various Trade Centres that participated in the project.