Synthesis of the research

The idea of creating a Regional Museum System of Design and Applied Arts follows a decade that has been crucial for design in Campania (1990/2002). It is marked by a series of experimental collaborations between fifty-three designers and thirty-one local companies producing local handicraft goods (Claudio Gambardella had curated a lot of exhibitions on souvenirs like “Napoli souvenir d’autore”, in 1990, or “I love Pompeii” in 2002), showing that it is possible to do design in a territory that lacks industries but is rich in local craftsmen.

The study has been prepared gradually, through the understanding and elaboration of the enormous potential of the local handicrafts of Campania, carried out in Naples, in the 1970s and 80s, by designers and academics, with it also relating to a cultural environment that has a long history. «When in 1734, Charles of Bourbon re-nominated Naples as the capital of an independent kingdom, the city was already densely populated, with a population of slightly less in number only to London and Paris. However, it was not only due to its demographic size that Naples had a leading role in eighteenth century European society. The two centuries of Spanish rule, along with the brief Austrian viceroyalty period, […] had left, from the perspective of cultural heritage, a fertile artistic, literary and philosophical ferment. […] In addition to giving impetus to the realisation of the masterpieces by Luigi Vanvitelli, Ferdinando Fuga and Mario Gioffredo as well as other great architects of the time, Charles of Bourbon launched an enlightened approach to promoting the artistic, from porcelain workshops of Capodimonte to the hard stone carvings of San Carlo alle Mortelle. […] The production of works of art became the laboratory of choice for the testing of new aesthetics. The excavations at Herculaneum and Pompeii fuelled the imagery of the search for ideas. The discovery of objects that animated life in the past – from pots to chairs to wall paintings – opened up new neoclassical horizons in anticipation of a phenomenon that would result in the British pottery of Josiah Wedgwood»

The idea of “System” comes from highlighting the presence of specialised museums in places where handicraft goods of Campanian excellence are produced as well as trying to bring the worlds of business and culture closer, a driver for development in the South. It also tries to involve small business owners, in a strategic project focused on design, that has a wider scope and is more long-term. Local development therefore depends on the museums. In 2002, the Second University of Naples, appointed by the Campania Region, drew up the preliminary project of a “regional museum system of design and applied arts”, with it being conceived as a virtual regional network of twenty-one specialised museums, public and private, of applied art and crafts as well as temporary museum of Campanian business in Pompeii, located along a strategic tourist route in the region that connects Naples with the most important centres of products of excellence in the region (See: The Regional Museum System of Design and Applied Arts, book edit by Claudio Gambardella).