Founded in 1954, SPD came into existence at the very same time as Italian design was developing as an industrial and cultural asset and contributed to its international diffusion.
Scuola Politecnica di Design was founded in 1954 by Nino Di Salvatore, painter and theorist of a project-based application of the principles of the Gestalt psychology.
He set up SPD as the first design school in Italy following his interests in applied arts, industrial processes and in their mutual relationships. Since its inception the school was organized into six disciplines: science of Man, science of form, technology, culture, theoretical and instrumental operationalism. Di Salvatore pioneered design education thanks to a solid grounding that integrates different domains. He also managed to gather around his school a faculty made of renowned artists, designers and scientists that contributed to the growth of Italian design into what we know it as today.
Bruno Munari, Max Huber, Pino Tovaglia, Rodolfo Bonetto, Walter Ballmer, Alberto Rosselli, Isao Hosoe, Heinz Waibl have all taught at SPD bringing to it their experimental attitude and a humanistic, multidisciplinary approach. A central role in the framework of the courses was played by the science of vision, a subject created and taught by Di Salvatore himself, that analyses our perceptive mechanisms and apply their processes to the design practice.
Over the years SPD kept on exploring new fields in design education, from transportation design to digital graphics; the methodology of the school gradually evolved still preserving its peculiar combination of different subjects – ergonomics, kinetic art, studies on human perception, semiotics – to educate generations of designers in a professionally conscious way.
This brilliant activity has been rewarded with major recognitions through the years. Just to name a few, SPD was selected for the exhibition at the Venice Biennale in 1986, its works were displayed at the Carrousel du Louvre and at the Centre Pompidou in Paris, a piece by its students was part of 2010 edition of the Triennale Design Museum, Serie e Fuoriserie, curated by Andrea Branzi with Silvana Annichiarico.
SPD was awarded the Gold Medal at the X Triennale di Milano and the prestigious Compasso d’Oro prize in 1994 for its 60 year long progression of achievements in design education.
1957 Gold medal of the X Milan Triennale
1973 Exhibition at the Museum of Science and Technology, Milan
1979 Exhibition at the Museum of Science and Technology, Milan
1984 Benemerenza civica (civic merit) assigned by the Municipality of Milan
1986 Exhibition at the LXII Art Biennale of Venice
1990 Exhibition at the Centre Pompidou in Paris
1994 Compasso d’Oro prize, awarded by ADI
2003 First prize SMAU Industrial Design award, XII Targa Bonetto
2010 Exhibition at the Triennale Design Museum, Serie e Fuoriserie, in Milan
Thanks to this blend of practice and culture, methodology and experience, the school has brought forward many talents over the years. Aldo Cibic, Ferruccio Laviani, Christoph Radl, Cino Zucchi, Elio Carmi, Marco Ferreri, Maurizio Di Robiliant, Martì Guixé, Silvia Sfligiotti, Robin Rizzini, Lorenzo Damiani have all studied at SPD. Names from the newest generation are Cedomir Pakusevskij, Erasmo Ciufo, Alessandro Bonaguro, Jorge Manes Rubio, Alessandro Stabile, Isaac Pineiro, Rui Pereira, Salvatore Franzese.