15 November 2018

IED has organised three cultural marketing projects that highlight the institute’s scope and potential in this field: Dandy Couture, Two Ethos and NOT AN ARTIST 

Among the events organised by IED following the cultural marketing strategy, it is essential to mention two joint projects: Two Ethos and Dandy Couture, to which is added NOT AN ARTIST. These three events demonstrate IED’s relationship with other institutions and the experimental nature of the actions undertaken in several countries outside the traditional area of IED’s seats. 

During 2017 and 2018, IED’s international department organised three crucial projects that clearly show the full scope and potential of the cultural marketing strategy of the Istituto Europeo di Design. 

With the first two projects (Dandy Couture and Two Ethos), in particular, the international academic department and the international marketing department brought together academic and diplomatic institutions, associations/foundations and private partners in a fruitful interaction that led to joint participation in international events such as the World Design Capital celebrations in Mexico, Design Week in Milan and the summer edition of Pitti Immagine in Florence. The students were at the centre of the projects with the partners, who offered raw materials, exhibition venues and communication support. The quality of the results was very high, and the projects produced very positive experiences, both from an educational point of view and in terms of communication/visibility/positioning for all parties involved. 

The third project (NOT AN ARTIST), initially conceived as a promotional tool for courses in the Art area, also became a proper “research tool” for producing new content and knowledge in the art field on the contemporary art market and professions. 

On this occasion, lecturers, former IED students and external experts were involved. Here, too, the partnerships established with public and private institutions (such as the Italian Cultural Institute in Istanbul and Los Angeles, the Venice and Istanbul Biennale exhibitions, and the Ruya and IKSV Foundations) played a decisive role in defining the proper context for the various events and the success of the communication and positioning strategy. 

Dandy Couture 

Dandy Couture is a pioneering experience based on cooperation, sustainability and multiculturalism through hand-crafted fabrics adapted to the essence of the dandy and the taste of the contemporary consumer. This IED project sees the participation of the Universidad Anáhuac México Norte with the collaboration of RACU - Raíces Culturales and the groups of artisans from Oaxaca, under the patronage of the Mexican Embassy and Consulate in Italy. 

Each participant created a mood to illustrate their idea of “dandy couture” and a collection of different outfits, with a colour chart and fabric sample book, completing the project with a video and photo shoot. 

At the end of the project, a committee of lecturers selected the two Italian students who best interpreted the initial theme and were allowed to travel to Mexico for the exhibition’s inauguration. On the other hand, a Mexican winner came to Italy in June 2018 to visit Pitti and the project exhibition in its Italian phase. 

Two Ethos 

Two Ethos is an international joint project between the Korea National University of Cultural Heritage (KNUCH) and IED (Como, Firenze and Milano seats) with the participation of independent artists and designers coordinated by our former student Sunghee Kim, with the collaboration of the Korea Craft & Design Foundation (KCDF) and the patronage of the Italian Embassy in Korea and the Consulate General of the Republic of Korea in Milan. Two Ethos gave centrality to traditional Korean fabrics, combining Italian design and craftsmanship. The result was fashion creations in line with contemporary taste and the needs of Western consumers, which IED Fashion Design students developed using traditional Korean fabrics selected and produced by KNUCH. 

During the two years of the project, the Korean students worked on weaving traditional yarns, while the Italian students participated in the processing of top-quality products. The combination of the excellence of the two countries yielded amazing results. The first exhibition of Two Ethos for the public was held at the IED Milano seat during Design Week in 2017, followed by a second exhibition at the Consulate General of the Republic of Korea in Milan. In 2018, the second edition of Two Ethos was held at the Korea Craft & Design Foundation (KCDF) gallery in Seoul, which brought together all the work of KNUCH and Istituto Europeo di Design students, with an additional section of work entitled Homage, produced by renowned Italian and international design and art exponents. 

A new exhibition of the works is currently being discussed for 2019, on the occasion of Seoul Fashion Week, and a new edition of the project in 2020, using the same fabrics but in different contexts, such as interior design. 


NOT AN ARTIST is an international research and promotion project conducted by IED that traces the evolution of professional figures and future trends in contemporary art and culture. The project has three objectives: to provide students interested in art courses with an overview of best practices and possible career paths in the field of art and culture through engaging events in prestigious settings; to create an opportunity for sharing the knowledge and experience of professionals to be passed on to the teaching departments; and to come into contact with the protagonists of the contemporary art world, to achieve IED’s recognition and positioning in this field. 

The project includes meetings and activities with artists and designers and with “non-artists” (curators, art directors and communication experts) who work daily with the same themes dealt with by the IED master courses in the Art area. The basic idea is to observe the contemporary art scenario as it evolves, offering the market new opportunities. The observation started with an internal workshop aimed at outlining the developments in art-related careers. 

The workshop inspired the reorganisation of IED’s training offerings within the Art area and stimulated further investigation of the issue. Two lines of research emerged: 

  • NOT AN ARTIST AS PROFESSIONAL, aimed at investigating the professional roles of contemporary art; 

  • NOT AN ARTIST AS DESIGNER, aimed at exploring the blurred boundaries between disciplines. 

The project involved cultural professionals, artists, designers and cultural institutions in international events such as the 2017 Istanbul and Venice Biennale exhibitions and the 2018 Los Angeles Design Festival. 

In Istanbul, NOT AN ARTIST took the form of a panel discussion between Tamara Chalabi, the founder of the RUYA Foundation (curator of the Iraqi pavilion at the Venice Biennale), Deniz Ova of the IKSV Foundation, director of the Istanbul Design Biennale and curator of the Turkish pavilion at the Venice Biennale, Harun Elibolca, founder and director of the Istanbul cultural company Gigology, and the director of the local Italian Cultural Institute. The meeting was held at the Italian Cultural Institute as part of the Istanbul Bienniale. 

The main question the experts were asked to answer was: do non-artists have a role in contemporary culture? Each participant, as a “non-artist”, provided information on his or her role in the contemporary cultural scene on a local and international level. 

Tamara Chalabi emphasised the role of non-artists in scouting and their importance in allowing artists to exhibit their works internationally, even when conditions are unfavourable. 

Harun Elibolca spoke about non-artists role as a meeting point between artists, public institutions and the public to attract attention and share ideas on social issues through entertaining formats. 

Deniz Ova, on the other hand, illustrated the functioning of an institution such as IKSV, emphasising the importance of this actor within the cultural scene, where non-artists can balance the economic equilibriums between the various disciplines, allowing different artists to continue working. 

Alessandra Ricci, former director of the Italian Cultural Institute in Istanbul, promoted the role of non-artists and institutions as cultural bridges and instruments of “soft diplomacy”. 

In Venice, NOT AN ARTIST was a dialogue between students interested in Art courses, the faculty and a group of external experts. A guided tour of the 57th Venice Biennale was organised as part of the project, with a lecture on the evolution of contemporary culture professions at the Arsenale. Speakers included Tommaso Sacchi, Clementina Rizzi, Marco Trevisan and Igor Zanti. 

Tommaso Sacchi, curator and consultant for public institutions, addressed the rise of the figure of the curator as a quality label for cultural events. 

Clementina Rizzi, Head of Communication at Palazzo Grassi, Punta della Dogana, spoke about the evolution of the professional role of the communication expert at a time when communication has become another aspect of the artist’s work and the public has the power to participate in the dialogue. 

Marco Trevisan, founder and director of Affordable Art Fair and cultural director, spoke on the behaviour of actors and players in the art world, the importance of links between disciplines and the need for new professional figures. 

Igor Zanti, director of IED Venezia and art critic and curator, discussed the indispensable role of education in providing the sector with the necessary skills. 

Finally, in Los Angeles, NOT AN ARTIST created an exhibition and conference in collaboration with the local Italian Cultural Institute as part of the city’s Design Week. Renamed NOT AN ARTIST - Toyboyz Edition, it investigated the artistic phenomenon of Toy Design through the work of four distinguished personalities: Fidia Falaschetti, Joe Ledbetter/J.Led, Massimo Giacon (IED Lecturer) and Simone Legno/tokidoki (former IED student). 

The exhibition explored Toy Design as a symbol of the blurred boundaries between different disciplines, presenting sculptures, design objects, drawings, paintings, merchandising, and highlighting the design methodology and techniques shared between art and design. The conference, on the other hand, explored the professions and skills involved in the Toy Design business, showing how it is necessary for artists to supplement their profile with non-artistic skills or to collaborate with non-artists, who take care of all aspects outside the sphere of art. 

The project received massive local, national and international media coverage and is now being discussed for possible future developments. On the one hand, there is the need to consolidate the knowledge acquired, which takes time. On the other hand, the busy promotional calendar requires planning events to contact the target communities, which is more demanding. 

Author: Jacopo Manganiello 

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