“We intend to sing the love of danger, the habit of energy and fearlessness.”
F.T. Marinetti; The Founding and Manifesto of Futurism, 1909
A couple of months ago, I travelled to Monaco for the Grand Prix. Considering it was already a pretty auto-themed holiday, I thought why not trip across to Modena to visit the Enzo Ferrari Museum and soak in some amazing car history. Our drive through Italy took us through some jaw-dropping scenery and I could really see the lasting influence the past thousand years of architecture, building and town planning have made to Italy and its culture.
It wasn’t until we visited the Ferrari Museum though that I noticed the massive contrast between the old and the new. Italy’s culture is steeped in history and in some ways, it is beginning to sit too comfortably on those laurels to the point of stagnation. Crumbling buildings sit on the landscape, too expensive to be restored and too historically-important to be pulled down. But this reliance on its past glories can start to suffocate a country’s growth.
Back in 1909, a young Italian called Filippo Marinetti, who was repelled by Italy’s repetitive lifestyle, launched the Futurist’s Manifesto. The manifesto was dedicated to rejecting Italy’s past and embracing the future at any cost. It promoted speed, technology, youth and violence and it wanted to bring Italy forward through invention and machinery; cars and planes.
Where does Ferrari fit between the Italy’s obsession with the past and the Futurists demands to kill it all and start again? Somewhere in the middle I think. Thankfully they didn’t take up the promotion of violence the manifesto encouraged, but they did commit to embracing new technology. When Enzo first began building Ferraris, he embraced new technology and seamlessly blended it with timeless Italian design.
Where some companies solely focus commitment to technology, without a nod to good design, the results show as much. Their products may outperform in their category on specs, but their design prowess cannot be seen and as a result the end user is unlikely to ever develop a connection to it. Conversely, many companies employ a one-sided romantic attitude with their merchandise and end up creating good looking products that fall short of reliable performance.
Design is always the balancing act between art and commercialism. When companies get it right, it’s a powerhouse of success. It sounds simple, but it’s only when both boundaries are pushed to their absolute maximum do you create one of the world’s most recognisable and valuable brands like Ferrari.
What does this mean when I think about it in the context of working at greater group? I look back over my 17 years with the company and I see a business that has led with innovation to continue to raise the bar with what we deliver. While the futurists wanted to denounce the past, I don’t think that’s always the best way forward, but unshackling ourselves from the burden of repeating our mistakes means we always question every design move we make, from pitch to roll-out and beyond. I think this is why our clients always come back, because they depend on a solid history and progressive future.
by Chris Ballard
Design Director – Asia