There’s still time to nominate local icons for Best of D.C.
Given that our national design museum, the Cooper-Hewitt, located in Manhattan, Washington-area residents shouldn’t take for granted the opportunity to visit the Italian Cultural Institute’s latest offering, “Extradesign: Pininfarina Design in 20 Objects for Daily Use.” Perhaps the most significant aspect of the history of Italian industrial design is its late beginning. Unlike Germany, Britain, and the United States, Italy lacked a strong 19th-century industrial tradition; its design was born in the period between the wars, when the streamlined shapes that would define the Machine Age began to dominate. Italian industrial design didn’t come into its own, though, until after World War II, when Vespa and Lambretta scooters and Pininfarina’s landmark Cisitalia coupe announced Italy’s particular flair for combining refinement with sensuality. Pininfarina remains best known today for its automobile designs, but over the past 10 years its Extra division has extended the company’s reach to a wide variety of products. Displayed in custom-designed cases and accompanied by drawings, the objects in the exhibit include such high-tech gadgets as an interactive video game helmet and a data-collection terminal, but it’s the relatively mundane items—pens, golf clubs, and coffee machines (pictured)—that most vividly suggest a world in which the goal of manufacturing is to maximize beauty and elegance rather than profit and convenience. Pininfarina Extra Managing Director Paolo Pininfarina will introduce the exhibit, on view from Thursday, June 3, to Saturday, July 31, at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, June 3, at the Italian Cultural Institute, 1717 Massachusetts Ave. NW, Suite 104. Free. For reservations call (202) 387-5161. (Daniel Searing)