From Regional to Mediterrean System


The studies carried out in the twentieth century since Fernand Braudel highlight how in the Mediterranean, in its confrontation with the political economy of contemporary events, is a highly complex area. It may be considered not only as a given history and geography, but as the «[…] reconstruction of an open area for exchange where Mediterraneans can met their neighbours», says Mohammed Bennis, professor at the University Mohammed V – Agdal, Rabat. Subsequently, in the same wonderful post-face, quite rightly he states that «[…] the culture that was the basis of the past in the Mediterranean is the only one that can guide us in reconstructing the Mediterranean meant as an idea. The Mediterranean culture was the embodiment of tolerance, dialogue and openness. […] It united what economics and politics managed to separate […] If we consider culture as a founder, the reconstruction of the Mediterranean basin will become a new humanism, through which we deserve both the past and the future […]». At the same time, he warns that this Mediterranean is part of a larger reality and that in reality the northern part of the Mediterranean is Europe. In 1995, the Barcelona Declaration (adopted at the Euro-Mediterranean Conference – 27-28/11/1995) [6] provides an inseparable interrelationship between the Mediterranean and Europe, because «[…] it [Europe] must regain its Mediterranean dimension, that is, its roots, that since ancient times have allowed it to undertake a beneficial exchange of political, cultural and religious experiences.

This re-appropriation is, at the same time, a challenge for the future of the “european model”»[7]. The Mediterranean as well as Europe are concepts that require continuous remodelling and can be part of one big project that we can all help to build. A cultural project. An economic project. A peace project.
The “Mediterranean Museum System of Design and Applied Arts” is entirely in keeping with these broad themes and collective ambitions. In 2005, the project was drawn up and organized in a detailed proposal for EU funding with several Mediterranean partners (project presented on 29 JULY 2005 to the Regione Campania within Programme INTERREG III B – ARCHIMED). However, the administration of the Campania Region granted funding to other proposals. It was preferred to have meetings with individuals in order to transform the project idea into something consistent and definitive. International agreements, which form the basis of a modern university, promote the creation of these Euro-Mediterranean relationships. In particular, the “bridge” created with Turkey as well as Germany is thanks to bilateral Erasmus agreements drawn up with the University of Cologne in 2007 and Okan University, Istanbul in 2010.
What does the System propose to do? Specifically, it wants to contribute to a wide area of the Mediterranean (Euro-Mediterranean) in the construction of an alternative design that, despite the crisis, is multiplied with objects, furniture, things/goods that are not created for a particular world.

The alternative, therefore, in the hoped-for post-growth society which fully expresses the new values that are have been emerging for some time – such as the selective recovery of the past, authenticity, local traditions as well as cultural heritage (See: La società della post-crescita, a book of Giampaolo Fabris) – renewing the relationship between design and craft (that was never completely severed in Italy). It is worth considering of the “third type”, which was defined by Alison and De Fusco in 1991, that is placed between the crafts (even more influential and vital in the Mediterranean countries) and industrial design; artidesign, i.e., not as a southern Italy phenomenon but in a broader sense, “Mediterranean artidesign”, or rather Euro-Mediterranean.
This objective will have a positive response in the knowledge of a widespread context of micro-entrepreneurial artisans and manufacturers-holders of ancient manual wisdom. With these subjects, it will be possible to experience new dynamics (as in Campania and other parts of Italy) when introducing into the “design” moment of the craftsman a professional figure that is alien, the designer, thus interrupting the modus fabricandi closed between design, manufacture and sale. The Design Culture could also introduce promotion which is usually absent in handicraft production as well as modernize product distribution.

The Officiamuseumed project can save crafts from isolation by introducing them into a broader economic and productive context; promoting the transformation of small artisans into businesses, always small, but implemented by the Design; aggregating them through the existing museums of applied arts and crafts. Officiamuseumed can be divided into a series of local “subsystems” in different regions of the Mediterranean and become, with their respective central organisations – the new design museums – a “Mediterranean Museum Company” with the task of promoting the development of these new companies with excellent products of a territory so vast through the careful direction of universities, chambers of commerce and trade associations.