De Silva: “Design is everywhere, but it is born in Italy”

At Milan Design Week, the Ducati Diavel 1260 and its special Pirelli tyres become a symbol of Italian creativity

Home life De Silva: “Design is everywhere, but it is born in Italy”
De Silva: “Design is everywhere, but it is born in Italy”

“We have to learn to write created and made in Italy, and not just made in Italy”. The designer Walter De Silva, formerly of Volkswagen, has sketched out the path to be taken to make Italian creativity a global mark of excellence. And he has done so in a new Milan space, The Manzoni, a hybrid between restaurant venue and showroom that was designed and created by another guru of global design, Tom Dixon, a keen car and motorbike enthusiast. Here, as a symbol of design and elegance, the Ducati Diavel 1260 Materico has been put on display, featuring its special Pirelli tyres, the Diablo Rosso III.

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The guests for the roundtable discussion included Piero Misani, R&D Director at Pirelli, Andrea Ferraresi, Design Director for Ducati, Mitja Borket, Head of Design at Lamborghini, and Woody Yao and Maha Kutay, Co-Directors at Zaha Hadid Design. “Of course there's the know-how," explained De Silva, "and performance. While in Italy we are also number one globally in lots of sectors. But creation should also be added to the list, the thought of form, of giving it meaning, something that essentially corresponds with outstanding functionality."

The Diavel 1260 itself embodies the strengths of Italian design, from the most functional to the most aesthetic, including the tyres: "At least 20 per cent of the look of a motorbike is found in the wheels," underlined Piero Misani. It would only be natural, therefore, to dedicate complete attention to this part of the bike, just as the aforementioned Tom Dixon did when he designed a collection of limited edition tyres for Pirelli in 2017.

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The agreement between Pirelli, Ducati and Lamborghini, to whom the Milan manufacturer is the sole supplier, is confirmation of the excellence of Made in Italy in the design world. "Made in Germany," continues De Silva, "and made in Switzerland are different types of 'made in'. Creation has always been part of the basic formula of Made in Italy, with the creation of the culture first, which then leads us to economic performance. This is the true process. We have to insist on this message, especially as we are now celebrating 500 years since the birth of Leonardo: Italy is a country of creators."

"We have to be conscious of this fact, or rather of the fact that we have a kind of added value. I was in Germany for 18 years," explains De Silva, "where the chemistry we found between German precision and engineering and Italian creativity was explosive. But we have to dedicate much more energy to training. We must educate all our young people to grow up with this idea: that doing and creating things is in Italy our common heritage."

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Motorcycles are certainly an Italian point of excellence, but de Silva, who is a veteran of the automotive world, does not envy motorbike designers: "They have to design all the different parts, everything you can see! The designers are involved in the architecture – the wheelbase, the size of the tyres and the handlebars – and then they have to design the bodywork, all the details, every bolt, before everything has to run the gauntlet of technology and the cost."

What's more, man is an essential element of motorbike design: it is, in a certain sense, a design that is only complete with a human presence. "Ladies and gentlemen, we live surrounded by design," concluded de Silva, "We wake up in the morning and unconsciously do at least ten things related to design. We are constantly emotionally and functionally involved with design. And this is extraordinarily beautiful."

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