Students learn about design in Milan

On December 14th, 34 of our GCSE and A Level design students jetted off to Milan, the capital of fashion and the home to Ferrari! At Blue Coat we prepare our students to read a wide variety of degrees when they leave ranging from Engineering through Product Design to Architecture. All three disciplines work with the design cycle as a basic model and all rely upon material science to ensure that products are both functional and fit for purpose. When aesthetics meet function … genius.

The day after arrival the A level students travelled to Omegna, nestled between the Italian and Swiss Alps and home to the Alessi product design company. Alessi celebrates a most interesting business model for it works with designers great and small who send their unsolicited ideas for consideration. A partnership is set up over a period of 2 or 3 years to develop a final product. The designer retains intellectual property whilst Alessi maintains publication and sales rights. In this inspirational space Dr. Alberto Alessi’s PA gave a truly exceptional design-business presentation that any graduate student would have offered their right arm to be able to share. We then headed off to the Alessi museum in a private wing that houses a vast and interesting range of models and prototypes created by famous designers and architects offering a valuable snapshot into the history of 20th century Italian design.

On Friday, the group headed for the town of Maranello – home of Ferrari. The first of the day’s events was a talk from two Ferrari employees about the design and marketing strategy of the company and how they have such a recognisable brand with minimal advertising, and the talk was followed by a bus tour of the grounds where the factory I located. For the students, however, afternoon proved to be the best part of the day. First of all, they were split into teams of three and raced the clock to complete a full wheel change pit-stop (with the winning Blue Coat team accomplishing their stop in less than 8 seconds), and then they each had a turn to set a time in a Formula One simulator around Monza, the track that hosts the Italian Grand Prix. They were then given access to the Ferrari Museum, where they got to see tens of millions of pounds worth of Ferrari’s latest and greatest cars, ranging from Championship-winning F1 cars to rare iconic supercars.

Characteristic of design study trips is the desire to generate a feeling of total absorption in the chosen period of study generated by a constant barrage of experiences… be they museums (Decorative Arts and Fine Art), restaurants, design companies, engineering hubs or, in this case, fashion. On the Saturday, the students entered the Armani Silos at Via Bergognone 40 and were treated to a voyage through the mind of Giorgio Armani with what seemed like an endless chain of colour-filled concrete rooms all burgeoning with timeless classics and a guide that filled the mind. By the time we emerged we were overflowing with both visual and intellectual possibilities leaving no space for more.

As if this was not enough, the students transversed the terraces of Milan cathedral, enjoyed a tour of La Scala scenery workshops, toured an expo dedicated to Leonardo Da Vinci, tried to interpret an exhibition of Italian Futurism at the Museo del Novecento, enjoyed a Christmas market and tucked into more pasta and family made pizza than was healthy!

Mr McGough, Head of Design Technology

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