Graphic from Made In Italy Bookcover

Critical Made in Italy

This series, designed by the Inserra Chair in Italian and Italian American Studies, focuses on the relevance of the Made in Italy in today’s world. The fact that the Made in Italy is the third most popular brand in the world after Coca Cola and Visa – as an unverified yet much quoted source on the Internet claims – speaks to the unrivaled role of Italian products in the current market, and especially in the Tri-State area of the United States, as embodiments of good taste. Yet, the concept of the Made in Italy and the practices attached to it go well beyond the manufacturing, distribution and consumption of products within an economic perspective. The Made in Italy brand can be understood as a complex network of values, traditions, skills, and images that tell us about the country’s national identity as much as they tell us about how it is forged in the perception of the Made in Italy abroad.

Inspired by a 2016 collection of essays edited by Daniele Balicco – Made in Italy and Culture – this series of panels aims at offering a critical take on this fascinating concept, which embraces anthropological, aesthetic, and socio-political considerations. In foregrounding the complex interplay between symbolic and practical issues such as quality, creativity, passion, emotion, technological innovation, artisanal abilities, elegance, beauty, and well-being as quintessential elements of the Italian lifestyle, the series will show how the Made in Italy is effectively acting as a counterpoint to the hegemony of increasing global standardization, thanks to and despite the intrinsically fragmented nature of the country’s culture and entrepreneurial spirit.

The series started with two panels in the academic year 2016-17 devoted to design and food respectively. They both featured Daniele Balicco and a second speaker active in the specific field covered by the panel. The third panel took a slightly different direction by focusing on cinema and language. The first and the third panel were developed in line with the celebration of Italian language and culture that takes place every October worldwide as part of an Italian government’s initiative (its 2016 edition focused on design and creativity, and the 2017 on Italian language and cinema). The fourth panel offers an in-depth look at how artistic works that blend the Italian decorative tradition and a denunciation of global challenges enter both Italian and U.S. design markets and public spaces.

The series includes:
Critical Made in Italy Part 1: Design (Oct. 13, 2016)
Critical Made in Italy Part 2: Food (March 21, 2017)
Critical Made in Italy Part 3: Cinema (Oct. 16, 2017)
Critical Made in Italy Part 4: Art, Industry and Public Spaces (April 15, 2019)
Critical Made in Italy Part 5: Environment and Nutrition (Sept. 26, 2019)

Se Made in Italy fosse un brand sarebbe il terzo al mondo – (Il Sole 24 Ore, article in Italian)
Per un Nuovo Rinascimento Italiano (Il Post, article in Italian by Gabriele Centazzo – see in particular page 2 and 3)
Official speech on Made in Italy and Italian economy
Brief interview with Daniele Balicco (in Italian)
Depressi da politica e crisi? Fate un salto a NY (La Repubblica, Oct. 22, 2016, article in Italian by Federico Rampini)
Andrea Illy: “Su area Expo pronta scuola del saper fare italiano”(, Nov. 24, 2016, interview with Andrea Illy – in Italian)
L’impurità degli italici (Nov. 29, 2016, La Voce di New York, article in Italian)
Il potere morbido della lingua italiana (Internazionale, Oct. 17, 2016, article in Italian)
New Jersey and Italy: Perfect together – Italian trade head eager to expand business ties (NJBIZ, April 25, 2016)
Vivere all’italiana (video)
130 Years of Piaggio: A History of Speed and Style (La Voce di New York, Mar 21, 2017)