Italian Design Day focuses on sustainability

Tan spoke on the importance of well-designed living spaces for good mental health.

ITALIAN Design Day celebrated its fifth edition recently with the theme “Project and Matter: New challenges for the sustainable restart of the Made in Italy”.

An insightful webinar was hosted by the Embassy of Italy in Kuala Lumpur in collaboration with the Malaysia Italy Design Institute (Midi) of University Kuala Lumpur (UniKL), with the support of the Italian Trade Agency.

The webinar focused on the connection between design and sustainability to minimise waste and consumable, non-renewable resources to create healthier, more productive environments.

The event began with welcome speeches by UniKL president and chief executive officer Datuk Dr Roziah Omar and the Ambassador of Italy to Malaysia, Cristiano Maggipinto.

Roziah lauded the Embassy of Italy, the Italian Trade Agency, the Italy Malaysia Business Association and other stakeholders for their strong support in the realisation of Italian Design Day 2021.

“I believe this collaboration and similar industry partnerships between Midi and Italian entities not only raise the standards of our academic quality but also ensure our students will be relevant to future job needs, enhance our graduates’ employability and boost the growth of our nation.

“We hope to foster more initiatives — student internships, summer programmes and academic mobility — with many more Italian partners in the near future,” she said.

The establishment of UniKL Midi reaffirms the cooperation between Malaysia and Italy in the fields of human capital development, transfer of design technology and the creative design industry.

The partnership between UniKL and other institutes or universities in Italy which specialise in creative design provides a viable platform to UniKL Midi in the move towards establishing its position as a centre of design excellence in Asia.

Commending UniKL on their proactive role in supporting Italian Design Day, Maggipinto noted three key words critical to this year’s event; these were “Made in Italy”, “sustainability” and “restart”.

“After the pandemic, our plans to recover and restart have to be sustainable.

“Hence the theme of Italian Design Day 2021 is especially important considering this year is crucial for the defence of the environment, in the fight against climate change and in the promotion of authentically sustainable development.”

Maggipinto added that design could play an important role in daily life. “Everyday objects have to be sustainable starting from their conception, if we really want to take into account their environmental impact.”

Among the speakers was Prof Silvia D’Ambrosio of Politecnico of Milan (also “Ambassador of Design” for this year’s edition).

In her talk titled “The Culture of Sustainability: Daily and Designerly Practices for Greener Communities”, she said: “Small and simple daily actions have the power to change the production chain.

“Now young people are the ones raising awareness on environmental, social, energy and mobility issues.

“Led by movements such as the one inspired by Greta Thunberg, they have turned the spotlight on the need to redesign the world in a fair and more sustainable way.

“In fact, it is the youngest (Generation Z) who are willing to pay more for environmental-friendly and sustainable products,” added Prof D’Ambrosio.

Principal of DrTanLM Architect Dr Tan Loke Mun espoused the importance of well-designed living spaces for good mental health in his talk titled “In The End Nature Wins”.

Drawing from his experiences and observations during the pandemic, Tan said there should be a new mixed-use typology that incorporates the essence of a whole village or community in one building.

It should, he said, combine office and residential functions and feature more integration of indoor and outdoor spaces, natural ventilation, more shared spaces such as museums and gardens and include screening and sterilising rooms.

The online event wrapped up with screenings of video montages of Malaysian and Italian students’ works, as well as Milan’s famous furniture fair.

In conjunction with Italian Design Day, an Italian animated movie titled Trash was screened for free for the first 500 people.

There was also a virtual exhibition dedicated to the themes of sustainability and environment protection.

Visitors could walk through various “virtual rooms” and view more than 200 drawings, storyboards and video materials from the movie by requesting a password from and visiting

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