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Aldo Borletti founded the Compasso d’Oro (Golden Compass) competition and the award for product aesthetics at the Italian department store La Rinascente at the X Triennale (see Milan Triennale) in Milan in 1954. In Europe, the award was the first of its kind. The store has been committed to fostering quality of excellence in Italian architecture for many years.

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Based on Gio Ponti’s idea that a quality mark was required which denotes the value of industrial goods, the Compasso d’Oro was also an opportunity to recognise the stylish modern design of Italy in the home and abroad, the early beneficiaries of which almost represented the leading designers and producers in postwar Italy.

They included;

  • Marcello Nizzoli, designing for Necchi and Olivetti, 
  • Gino Sarfatti for Arteluce, 
  • Gino Colombini for Kartell, 
  • Franco Albini for Poggi, 
  • Roberto Sambonet for his own company, 
  • Marco Zanuso for Borletti, 
  • Dante Giacosa for Fiat.

Joint control La Rinascente and ADI

After 1959, La Rinascente and ADI (Italian Industrial Design Association) jointly controlled the awards system and took it over in 1962. As with several other design awards at the time, the emphasis on aesthetics was criticised to the detriment of social significance. The jury was also drawn from the context of the Italian design world until the 1970s when international designers and others, employed in similar fields, were introduced with their perspectives.

Currently

Currently, Compasso d’Oro is awarded every three years by an international jury selected by the ADI Design Permanent Observatory, consisting of experienced designers, reviewers, theorists and design journalists who continuously review products for inclusion in the annual ADI Design Index of Italian products.

Sources

ADI Design Index 2021. ADI. https://www.adi-design.org/.

Woodham, J. Compasso d’Oro. In A Dictionary of Modern Design. : Oxford University Press. Retrieved 27 Jan. 2021, from https://www-oxfordreference-com.ezproxy.csu.edu.au/view/10.1093/acref/9780191762963.001.0001/acref-9780191762963-e-182.

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