Did you know how many design icons actually come from the Alps?

Tyrol, South Tyrol and Trentino are extremely popular as alpine holiday and leisure destinations. But did you know that many world-famous designers and products originally came from the Austrian-Italian mountains?

The Alpine areas of Tyrol, South Tyrol and Trentino combine eventful histories, the search for a common cultural identity and a unique creative potential that spreads right across Europe. Located in the midst of the culturally important metropolises of Munich, Milan, Venice and Vienna, the Alpine region has produced countless designers, artists and architects whose work has decisively shaped 20th-century design history. The curators of the exhibition Design from the Alps, which will be on show until 12 January 2020 in the Kunst Merano galleries, have also considered the creative output of the pan-European areas of Tyrol, South Tyrol and Trentino. Scheidegger & Spiess has already published a magnificent volume to accompany the exhibition, which brings together the most important and designers from the region in a book for the first time. 

We couldn’t help but be astonished while browsing the 460-page tome, simply because we had no idea so many well-known objects originated in the Alpine region. There’s Carlo Abarth, who was born in Vienna but began his career in Merano in the 1940s. He used to test the capability of his engines on the curves of the Stelvio Pass. The automotive designer Arrigo Perrini, who made a name for himself with small sports and off-road vehicles, also ran an extremely creative coachbuilding factory in Arco on the northern shore of Lake Garda. 

The aircraft manufacturers Aeromere and Aero Caproni, the snow vehicle specialist Prinoth and the commercial vehicle company Iveco also shaped the mobility of their time from their Alpine homeland. European interior décor was also influenced by Tyrol, South Tyrol and Trentino. This new exhibition and book reminisce about pioneering designers such as Ettore Sottsass Senior and Junior, Giovanni Lorenzi, Angiolo Mazzoni, Luciano Baldessari and the iron lamp brand Eisenkeil. There are also a number of contemporary designers showcased such as Matteo Thun, Henry Thaler and the furniture brand Plank. 

We’d encourage anyone with an interest in design, historical heritage and contemporary design influence from the European regions of Tyrol, South Tyrol and Trentino to visit the Design from the Alps exhibition in Merano and buy the accompanying book.

Photos: Kunst Meran / Scheidegger & Spiess