cover image New Italian Design

New Italian Design

Rizzoli, Nally Bellati. Rizzoli International Publications, $45 (203pp) ISBN 978-0-8478-1258-5

Milan-based journalist and photographer Bellati here surveys experimental design in Italy from the 1980s to the present, vaunting the merits of some 50 young designers--among them only seven women--and displaying their work in 300 stylish photos, 250 in color. Design director Alessi offers a one-page introduction that promotes his housewares-manufacturing company. Hardly the classics of tomorrow, the furniture, vases and other eye-catching household items shown exist for today's fashion-conscious consumer, an idea echoed by the volume's trendy layout. The individuals profiled, some of them proteges of such elite personalities as ``Memphis''-style founder Ettore Sottsass, offer diverse approaches to form and function as well as comments on their own educations, inspirations and finished products, often grappling with distinctions between art and mass-produced objects. This slick, visually entertaining retrospective seems, like last season's dress, destined for ephemeral appeal. (Feb.)