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Made In Italy 2.0

Italians do it better. Especially when it comes to the craft and the passion behind making beautiful things.

The fact is, the Italian soul craves aesthetic beauty. It is a cultural totem. Consider the label “Made In Italy”: it immediately conjures visions of quality, luxury and style. Always style.

Indeed, Google hasn’t neglected Italy’s ability to produce the glorious and the gorgeous. The Google Cultural Institution’s project “Made In Italy” investigates Italy’s most sparkling moments: opening the door for visitors looking for hidden treasures and those people hunting for the passions and traditions behind this phenomenon.

As much as tradition matters, Italy stands at the forefront of modern aesthetic creativity and design as well. Especially when it comes to the web.

To get the inside track on why Italy is a world leader in web design and development, we caught up with Tomas Baruffaldi. An art director, graphic designer and all round nice guy, Tomas is well versed in creating visual beauty; his everyday work is to create original and unforgettable online experiences in a creative digital agency AQuest.

Q. Hey Tomas, let’s start with this: If you had to describe the “Made In Italy” label, what would you say? 

The “Made In Italy” thing is a safe place for Italians to go to. We’ll say it and we’ll fall back on it, even when it’s taken out of context! It’s definitely something of a guarantee for creative Italians to believe that what we make is always beautiful, oozing quality.

We love to think that we’ve made something that demanded everything of us mentally and creatively. If I could sum up “Made In Italy” with two words, though, I’d choose creative and perplexing.

Q. So what is at the heart of “Made In Italy”? What makes it different from “Made In Germany” or “Made In Spain”? 

The main difference is that Italians are perhaps more used to being surrounded by beauty every day. We’re not fazed by it: we inherently appreciate it. Likewise, we are so used to change so that doesn’t worry us either. “Made In Italy” encapsulates everything that Italians, themselves, know how to make, create, and do.

So things can change through a different approach, a new way of doing things. That’s fine. You see Italians are irrational creatures: on the one hand we will turn away from adversity, whilst we are really good at making and taking all manner of opportunities.

tomas Baruffaldi aquest

Q. Some creatives say the modern version of “Made In Italy” should focus more on the return to forgotten traditions combined with modern research and innovation. Do you agree with that? Do you think Italian web designers should try to find inspiration in tradition whilst still moving forward and innovating?  

Well I don’t believe in a modern version of the “Made In Italy” label. It’s a timeless concept. You can’t pin it on one period in Italian history and say it doesn’t apply to this other time or that other time.

Made In Italy isn’t a tradition; it’s a way of working unhindered by time.

It focuses on those, overarching objectives: quality and beauty, two things we Italians are strongly drawn to. For me I like to see web designers working with a focus on quality. They must create work that innovates but also surprises. And I’d add that, if you’re going to innovate, then don’t forget to research!

Q. Jason Fried and David Heinemeier, founders of 37 Signals write in their book Re-work: “Pour yourself into your product and everything around your product too: How you sell it, how you support it, how you explain it, and how you deliver it. Competitors can never copy the you in your product.” Do you think there is recognizable Italian DNA in your work?   

I think leaving something of who you are in a project you are working on is why many of us get out of bed in the morning. We want to leave anonymity behind: we leave small residues of ourselves in the work we do. We can see it, but few others can. That is really important.

Q. Do you think foreign brands appreciate the style of “Made In Italy” in web design? And if so, why? 

I believe in the web as a global entity, really. Labelling a style of web design as coming from one country in particular doesn’t really work for me.

 Q. What about Italian brands? Do you think they should stay faithful to the “Made In Italy” style of web design? 

In terms of the cultural identity work carries, brands must stick to their principles and appreciate quality work regardless of where it comes from.

Q. Thank you for your time Tomas. Before you go, where can people find your work? 

I would invite them to check out the agency website www.aquest.it.

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