What is the connection between artistic crafts of excellence and “Made in Italy” production, a feature that is becoming increasingly crucial in order to identify distinctive qualities in an economic and manufacturing context that is highly conditioned by globalisation? What role does artistic craftsmanship play in defining an “Italian” style that is universally associated with beauty, elegance and the prestige of a tradition that cannot be imitated? This research, carried out by the “Arti e mestieri” Research Centre directed by Paolo Colombo at the Università Cattolica in Milan investigates the theoretical premise represented by the artistic crafts in Italy’s contemporary manufacturing industry, and how and to what extent the “métiers d’art” continue to reflect Italy’s cultural heritage and know-how.
In the rich, heterogeneous and variegated setting of Italy’s artistic craftsmanship, the research identifies the crafts that still respond to criteria of indisputable aesthetic and manufacturing excellence, playing an important role in the economy even at an international level. Each of the 24 chapters is dedicated to a field of “excellence” in Italian manufacturing, showing how the significance of authentic “Made in Italy” goods also passes through the activity of artistic crafts that are, by nature, rooted in the territory and represent the research and development that goes from the “workshop to the enterprise”.
The “Arti e mestieri” Research Centre was founded in 1997 at the Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore in Milan thanks to a special agreement with the Cologni Foundation. Its purpose is to promote knowledge of the arts and crafts in a contemporary and historical perspective. In particular, the research centre concentrates on the role that the arts and crafts play in political, institutional, legal, economic and socio-cultural systems in Italy and Europe.
Paolo Colombo, director of the “Arti e mestieri” Research Centre and coordinator of this research, is full Professor of History of Political Institutions at the Faculty of Political and Social Sciences at the Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore in Milan. Among his publications: “Il re d'Italia. Prerogative costituzionali e potere politico della Corona (1848-1922)”, published by Franco Angeli, 1999, and “Governo” (Il Mulino, 2003).