An insider’s experience of “Torino Design of the City” 2019

An insider’s experience of “Torino Design of the City” 2019

25 Nov 2019  •  15 min read

In October 2019, Jeremy Sun of Orcadesign represented Singapore in Torino, Italy for the “Torino Design of the City” programme. He attended and presented at the International Design Forum: City of the Future on 10th October. Singapore and Torino are both members of the UNESCO Creative Cities Network, as Cities of Design.

Orcadesign is a design and innovation consultancy firm that advocates a human-centred approach. It works closely with small and medium enterprises, start-ups and global brands to solve problems, uncover business opportunities, innovate and grow sustainably. Orcadesign is one of the eight design studios taking part in the Business of Design programme by the DesignSingapore Council, which helps Singapore-based designers and brands go global.

Prior to attending the event in Torino, Jeremy took the opportunity to meet up with some Italian companies and potential clients with Rita Bonucchi, owner of Bonucchi e associati stl. Rita is one of the four appointed market consultants for the Business of Design programme.

Here, Jeremy describes what he experienced in Torino.

Assisted and accompanied by the team of Bonucchi e associati stl (top left), I met up with potential collaborators (top right), as well as Cristian Avanzi of Torino Chamber of Commerce (bottom) who facilitated the meetings. The innovation focus of the companies ranged from circular economy, biotech, lighting to Internet of Things solutions.

Turin (Italian: Torino) was designated as a World Design Capital in 2008. The city was the first Italian capital from 1861 to 1865, and has been one of Italy’s main industrial and cultural centres. Over the past few decades, Torino has successfully transformed itself into a creative hub. During the city walk tour guided by the organiser, the delegates of the International Design Forum passed by Carignan Palace, Turin Cathedral and some of the legendary monumental arcades, which totalled 18 kilometres, forming the largest pedestrian area in Europe

We visited The Galleria Umberto I, which was hosting a selection of iconic objects in celebration of the 100th anniversary of the Bauhaus, one of the major influences on the modern industrial design. The Galleria, formerly the home to Torino’s first hospital, was converted to one of the city’s three historic shopping galleries after the hospital moved in the late 1800s, due to the city’s growth.

The welcome dinner for the delegates of the International Forum was held at La Farmacia del Cambio, a restaurant serving exquisite local cuisine. It is located in the Mercato Centrale (opened in April 2019), a vibrant market housing artisanal stores and gastronomic delights, with art and events open to the public.

The International Forum: City of the Future was a key programme of Torino Design of the City 2019. It was held at the Energy Centre located in the campus of Polytechnic University of Turin. The building was designed to be a technological model of "eco-building", with design choices that took into account the entire lifecycle of the building-plant system.

During the International Forum, representatives of the UNESCO Creative Cities of Design were invited to present about projects in response to the call launched by Turin during the XIII Annual Conference in Fabriano last June. Pictured here are representatives from cities including Cape Town, Detroit, Kortrijk, Saint-Étienne, Shanghai and Singapore.

Prior to my presentation, the organiser played the video documenting the experience of the delegates from 15 UNESCO Creative Cities of Design when they visited Singapore during Singapore Design Week in March 2019. I presented our projects that reimagined heritage for modern day living, our involvement in the SingaPlural showcase, which some of the delegates had visited, as well as the Business of Design programme. I was excited and honoured to represent Singapore at the forum and was delighted to know that some of the delegates decided to visit Singapore after my sharing.


A representative from Saint-Étienne (France) presented the project Human Cities, Challenging the City Scale. It was a European project led by Cité du design Saint-Étienne, with 12 partners including four UNESCO Creative Cities of Design (Graz, Bilbao, Helsinki and Saint-Étienne). From 2014 to 2018, it questioned and experimented with the co-creation of cities with citizens and creative people.

The organiser of the International Forum hosted lunch for delegates at the Officine Grandi Riparazioni (OGR), which was just a few minutes’ walk from the event venue. Opened in 2017, OGR had been converted from a 19th century complex of railway workshops and was now an impressive post-industrial-styled arts and innovation centre spanning 35,000 sqm.

It was a fruitful trip for me visiting Milan and Torino. Besides meeting companies to expand my network and explore potential collaborations, I had the opportunity to take part in the Torino Design of the City International Forum, which inspired me to continue pursuing projects with positive social impact. I also got to appreciate the Italian heritage in hospitality, architecture and food. I certainly look forward to visiting Italy again, for both business and leisure in the near future.

Photos and captions by Jeremy Sun. For more information on him and his work, visit: www.orcadesign.net

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