Throughout its history, Italy has been a beacon of enlightenment and creativity at the forefront of the modern world. Da Vinci, Michelangelo and others helped forge a renaissance in Italy that caught fire around the world, inspiring artists and thinkers in every generation since. Today, Italy’s creative spirit continues to flourish, and design remains a central focus of its evolution. To celebrate Italy’s new cultural heritage, here are 10 modern marvels of Italian creativity in design, fashion, architecture and more.
This exploration of modern Italian culture is sponsored by our friends at Persol.
Vulcano Buono Building
A new volcano has risen within view of the famed Mt. Vesuvius in Nola, Italy. The Vulcano Buono Building is a green-roofed commercial complex designed by the great Renzo Piano. This massive mall is home to hundreds of shops and a collection of restaurants, theaters and hotels in a design inspired by a the fiery force of nature. Its rising roofs are host to 2,500 plants that work to maintain the interior climate and freshen the air around it. It is progressive in design, historical in spirit and eco-friendly in body– a masterful work by Renzo Piano.
Vulcano Buono Gallery
Pininfarina Bovet Ottana Tourbillon Watch
The Italian design firm Pininfarina has given shape to some of history’s most beautiful automobiles, but this foray into timekeeping reflects their creative flexibility. The Pininfarina Bovet Ottana Tourbillon Watch is a collaboration between Pininfarina and Bovet 1882, an auto-inspired time machine with a stunning visual appeal. While watch design in Europe is widely attributed to the Swiss, a watch like this shows the Italians have tricks up their sleeves…
Pininfarina Bovet Ottana Tourbillon Gallery
CR&S DUU Motorcycle Concept
The name CR&S may not have the same familiarity as Ducati or Aprilia, but their recent work is helping to shape the future of the Italian motorcycle. The CR&S DUU Motorcycle Concept is a sleek street bike with a design that is at once muscular and robotic, aggressive and refined. These contrasts make for a lusty result, a bike that is in touch with Italy’s automotive history and its future.
CR&S DUU Motorcycle Concept Gallery
Vertical Villages of Calabria, Italy
The dynamic landscape of Italy requires inventive works of architecture. From ancient aqueducts to modern museums, Italian engineers have never had it easy. Recently, OFF Architecture proposed a new way for Italy to take advantage of these engineering marvels by turning expansive bridges into highrise communities. The Vertical Villages of Calabria, Italy are a series of proposed structures that retrofit existing bridges with homes and public spaces with magnificent views of the Mediterranean coast. A design like this would preserve the original structure, add new real estate while conserving precious Italian space, and show once again how magnificent Italian engineering can be.
Vertical Villages of Calabria Gallery
Is there any car that defines “cool” better than a Lamborghini? We don’t think so. The Lamborghini Aventador is Lambo’s latest masterpiece, a continuation of sharp design aesthetics and peak performance mechanics. The Aventador is a genuine supercar, a vehicle that can climb to top speeds of 217 mph on the open road. From a standing start, this beast will break 60mph in just 2.8 seconds, making it one of the fastest production cars in the world. While we like it for those performance numbers, we love it for its visual appeal. This stealth street fighter bears the sharp, angular and digitally-inspired marks that have made Lamborghini what it is today. It’s a kind of progress in design that few automobile companies have achieved.
Lamborghini Aventador Gallery
Modern Graffiti by CT
As an art from, graffiti has evolved dynamically in recent years. While artists like Banksy have added an illustrative, political feel to the form, an artist in Torino, Italy is doing something markedly modernist in contrast. The modern graffiti of “CT” may have more in common with font design than it does spray art, but CT’s selection of canvas is decidedly “street”. His home turf is host to a collection of these stunning pieces, where shapes and colors merge into CT’s bold, contemporary tangrams.
Modern Graffiti Gallery
Andreia Chaves Footwear
Italy has been and always will be a world beacon of fashion. It is ingenuity like the work of Andreia Chaves that makes Italy such a formidable force. Andreia Chaves designs conceptual footwear for her own brand and others, a collection of shoes that look unlike anything else on the market. The Andreia Chaves Invisible Shoe is as much a piece of sculptural art as it is footwear, whether you opt for the geometric cage above or the mirrored version in the gallery below. We wouldn’t be surprised if Lady Gaga has Andreia Chaves on speed dial…
Andreia Chaves Footwear Gallery
MAXXI Museum by Zaha Hadid Architects
Zaha Hadid is recognized as one of today’s foremost architects, a truly gifted designer with a style all her own. The MAXXI Museum by Zaha Hadid Architects is her offering to Italy, a new contemporary structure in the Flaminio district of Rome. It is one of the last decade’s most celebrated works, the recipient of the Stirling Award for architecture in 2010. While Hadid is an Iraqi-born British citizen, her offering to Rome is a prime example of the two-way nature of Italy’s new renaissance.
MAXXI Museum Gallery
Montante Maserati 8CTF Bicycle
One of the top names in Italian cycling has joined one of Italy’s most celebrated car companies, Maserati. Cicli Montante and Maserati have produced the Montante Maserati 8CTF, a celebration of both brands strong histories with a visual throwback to the 8CTF race car. This collaborative bike features a traditional frame, a fixed-gear layout and the red-and-chrome colorings of the 8CTF classic. It is a limited edition bike with just 200 available for Italophiles like us.
Montante Maserati 8CTF Gallery
Bastard Store by studiometrico
The counter-culture play-is-work revolution has a firm place in the new Italian renaissance. The skateheads at Bastard Brand, an Italian streetwear design team, have opened up a store and office celebrating their passions in Milan, Italy. The Bastard Store is a rehab of a 1940s theater building into an indoor skatepark– with a retail store below and an office above. Between tasks, employees at Bastard can hop on a deck and hit the bowl, relieving office stresses in the indoor skate park. This design by studiometrico was so respected in the world of architecture that our friends at ArchDaily awarded it the Building of the Year interior award in 2009.
Bastard Store Gallery