What is PNA?

The PNA – National Arts Award is an annual prize reserved for students enrolled in accredited institutions and courses of the AFAM system. In 2023, the curatorship of the 17th edition of the Design section was entrusted to the ISIA of Rome.
ISIA Rome, for this edition, has identified a challenging and highly attractive theme: ‘VISIONS OF DESIGN. Projects from the future’.
Young design students, from national AFAM institutions and international universities, were called upon to recount expectations and aspirations, show visions and pre-visions, assisted by their lecturers, promoting projects that can imagine and hypothesise the future. The aim was to foster the stimulus to imagine the future, through a multidisciplinary design methodology and systemic operation, developing the ability to define logical processes and the aptitude to manage complex relationships, in order to develop design skills capable of imagining and responding to the needs of future contexts and scenarios.


Design responds to the needs of the community: complex, multi-ethnic, multi-cultural, multi-technological contemporary society will have profoundly different needs and requirements from what we know today. Design is called upon to imagine the perspectives and scenarios of the future, through the identification of training methodologies capable, both culturally and in practice, of developing complex projects. The designer will be able to count on a rubric of operational tools to develop concepts and make them into projects and, in some cases, the very products of design.

These advanced tools, increasingly computerized and multimedia, equipped with interaction and participation capabilities, can be shared and expanded through an open source logic, always shared, inclusive, sustainable.

Through a typical function of design, that of pre-vision, the designer assumes the role of oracle and prefigures highly complex future scenarios,

in which to address the issues of climate, economy, society, production, globalization, technological and digital innovation. If Design is the relational tool for making the right decisions through collaboration between knowledge, vision and skills, the designer is director-designer, capable of leading, organizing and designing the future.

Within the National Arts Award the young students are called upon to recount expectations and aspirations, visions and pre-visions, aided by the “clairvoyant” skills of their teachers, promoting projects that can picture and hypothesise the future.

The designer works through thematic grids, in which recurring ideas and new needs intersect, creating a map of requests ranging from greater quality of life to new settlement systems; from environmental and technological sustainability to the relationships between complex systems; from new expressive and interactive languages to the different needs of the person and the community. The ultimate objective is an inclusive vision, capable of evaluating interactions between systems, grasping elements that will lead to the conscious and mature development of the project that becomes not an end to be pursued but a core of values in the system.

Anna Maria Bernini

Minister of University and Research

The experimentation, research. With these tools, and with their passion, students were called upon to narrate inspirations and expectations, designing a hypothesis for the future. The theme of the 17th edition of the National Arts Award, ‘VISIONS OF DESIGN – Projects from the Future,’ aptly defines this journey.

A journey that is also a necessity in a time where what will be both worries and fascinates us, captivates us. «When there is no vision, there is no hope», as George Washington said. This Award is an annual event designed to accompany and promote the path of the AFAM system (Higher education in the arts, music, and dance), one of the three pillars, along with Universities and Research, of the Ministry that I am honored to represent. For this year, the organization of the Design section of the Award has been entrusted to ISIA Roma Design, the Higher Institute for Artistic Industries, the first public university institute of design in Italy since 1973.

The goal of the National Arts Award remains the same: to give constant attention and prominence to a ‘showcase’ on the path of our students and also to offer an opportunity for reflection on the commitment in a strategic sector of the country. An opportunity that for this 2023 edition has attracted almost 471 students with their ideas and works.
Nearly 60 proposed projects and 23 represented institutes with the participation of foreign universities as well. A jury of experts and personalities from the world of design selected all the works.

This is what AFAM is, a laboratory of talents, creativity, excellence, the guardian of the most identity-forming know-how of our country.
It almost seems redundant to recall how much design has given us as a modern and admired image worldwide: ‘Made in Italy’ is born like this. But it is not just a credit of credibility that we have achieved thanks to our design school and its masters. It is the result of an economic boost that has been fundamental and that proudly raises the country’s flag even in more difficult times.

‘VISIONS OF DESIGN – Projects from the Future’.

This Award sends us a message of optimism because there is no artificial intelligence that can yet replace the most original creativity. The National Arts Award adds something to the path that AFAM students have undertaken. Visibility. But not only that. It is an additional way to enhance talents and allow our students to engage in an open dialogue. Because the future is not a closed room.

Massimo Ricciardi

President ISIA Roma Design

The National Arts Award is an opportunity for great commonality, listening and exchange among all the souls that make up the universe of the AFAM sector.

This event, now in its seventeenth edition, rewards each year the best project among those selected in all the ISIAs, academies and other institutions of design and fine arts in Italy, with solid participation from foreign universities as well.
This year, the burden and honour of organizing the event, in its prestigious design section, has been entrusted by the MUR to the ISIA of Rome, which, with its usual scientific and cultural competence, has given life to a space for ideational reflection open to all qualified actors in the sector.

Since the inception of the , design, in its product, service and communication forms, has played a fundamental role in defining meaning and charting the path leading to increased sharing and collaboration.
The 2023 edition, more than any other, saw the participation of projects arising from questions on ethics, inclusiveness and sustainability issues.
In order to best evaluate them, ISIA Rome made use of a jury composed of excellences from the design world, professionals and experts called to recognize, in an academic project, the continuation of a design path capable of contributing to the transformation of our tomorrow.

Tommaso Salvatori

Director ISIA Roma Design

What is design? What do we mean by this little word capable of collecting, containing, generating whole worlds?

Design is, by definition, inclusion and confrontation: the ideas, skills, competencies, and values of entire generations converge around the project.

This volume catalogues the projects that participated in the PNA – National Arts Award 2023 – Design Section, organized by ISIA Roma Design and dedicated to all the designers of the world, who work every day to create a new, more sustainable and just collective imagination.

The Award, which takes place every year, is an event with great social and cultural significance. This 2023 edition, in particular, embodies a moment of great openness, relationship, contamination and inclusion because, more than any other year, it hosts different realities, from heterogeneous backgrounds.

The 2023 PNA includes works designed by totally different skills, which have come together, converging, to best celebrate design, its generative force and its most deserving students.

All of us have different, sometimes divergent methodologies and practices; our paths have unfolded, branched out and differentiated over time, yet we are all within this catalog, no one excluded: the ISIAs, academies, AFAM institutes, international universities, public and private institutions, businesses, civil society.

Here we are close, in dialogue, in connection, guided by the principle that design is a connector and always knows how to prefigure new scenarios: design is magical, portentous, universal, it speaks a systemic and experimental language, with which it has always been able to tell the story of humanity.

And so starting from the beginning of world history here we are today at PNA 2023, ready to award and celebrate together the most beautiful design of all, the one that works better than any other because it is multicultural, multi-technical and multi-ethnic.

Today, thanks to this award, our forces converge, multiply, and amplify: through the structure of the National Arts Award we create connections and increase the confrontation between all the realities of the AFAM sector, which want, know and can take more and more part in the production chain and in the infinite opportunities of research.

With this Award we do not only give a to students and winning projects, we do more, much more: we strongly reiterate to the whole society and academia that this compartment of the MUR lives and works with vigor, energy and competence, that there is vision and desire for growth in its academic production, hope and desire for the future in its research projects.

The National Arts Award, in this edition organized by ISIA Rome, also lends itself as a training vessel in the magnum sea of academic realities, introducing open educational models and exchange: it is through its network that new cultural and educational opportunities for Italian design students have been built over the years.

Examples are: the ISIA Summer School, which hosts students from the academies and ISIAs of Italy; this catalogue, which contains the best of academic and research production on design; conferences and presentations, which have hosted experts in international design; this , with which the most innovative projects are honoured each year; and, finally, the concluding exhibition of the entire journey, which this year will be hosted by MACRO, Museum of Contemporary Art in Rome, a place devoted to showcasing new trends and languages.

Which better way to celebrate design, forge of the world?

We only know of this one, and today we huddle around our wonderful students, our project for tomorrow.

Giovanna Cassese

President of CNAM – National Council for Higher Education in Art and Music (MUR)

Design is vision of the future, it is the ability to imagine worlds, so it is essential to constantly question its disciplinary statutes and ask what future for design, or rather, what design for a future based on democratic principles of equality and tolerance and for an environmentally sustainable planet.

In the complexity of the contemporary scene, and with the awareness that today the term design takes on an increasingly expanded meaning in our liquid society, the phase of training future designers is central to developing directions, defining strategies, gathering innovative ideas, working on visions of the future with a method based on a design culture that enhances creativity and emphasizes the moment of the process within an ethical and aesthetic conception of the discipline.

Design is the material and immaterial heritage of the identity of the nation: we are recognized internationally through the successful expression of the Made in Italy, which includes the handmade production and genius loci.

The institutions of higher artistic education in Italy, the ISIAs, the academies of fine arts, the schools of artistic design for business: all of these are based very strongly on the culture of learning by doing, the contamination of knowledge, the creativity of the youth, and are constantly in dialogue with the culture of the project, a great laboratory of ideas and best practices in an experimental key; in this way they become the privileged place to re-discuss the paradigms of design knowledge and active laboratories for a political awareness of the fate of humanity. The moment of research and experimentation is central to developing new ideas and visions that are transformed into realizable projects thanks to a well-rounded culture that crosses theory and practice, humanistic, scientific and technological knowledge.
Our budding designers are the future, and their ideas, research and productions should be valued with determination.

The National Arts Award is a great and well-established opportunity, promoted by the MUR, for national and international exchange and knowledge. And it is great to see, in this 17th edition, that research and thesis projects are displayed symbolically in a major contemporary art museum such as the Macro in Rome, creating fruitful short-circuits across the border, with the declared intention of networking and participating fully in the contemporary art system.

The PNA is not only a showcase of talents and their courage to face the edge of the future with reckless decision and utopian passion: it is also a litmus test of the quality and competence of the teachers and cultural policies of the educational institutions themselves, of their ability to act within a network of reference, to find harmony with the territory by putting in place important actions of innovation, sustainability, social relevance and Third Mission. Once again, it is research at the highest level that is the undisputed protagonist of this edition of the PNA, happily organized by the ISIA of Rome, which allows us to vigorously reaffirm the right and the need for the full recognition and enhancement of the artistic and scientific research of AFAM institutions. I, on behalf of the CNAM, also wish for decisive cultural policy actions: the CNAM strongly calls for the full recognition of artistic and scientific research carried out by AFAM institutions in all its fields. We believe it is essential that AFAM research activities are finally given real attention and support from the Ministry.

AFAM can make a valuable and irreplaceable contribution to the creation of an economy based on knowledge, which is essential for the future of our country, in light of Article 9 of the Constitution and the Faro Convention.

Miguel Gotor

Councillor for Culture of Roma

Modern metropolises, with their complexity and dynamism, find in art and design indispensable allies for their growth and development. The importance of these disciplines goes far beyond aesthetics: they are the foundations on which experiences, identities and connections are built within urban spaces.

Rome is no exception and, in addition to being world-renowned for its irreplaceable historical and cultural heritage, it is also home to numerous institutions of higher arts education that can make a fundamental contribution to its social and urban development as well.
Indeed, creativity has a regenerative power, which can help redefine the appearance and functionality of the common good, while addressing the challenges of environmental sustainability, accessibility and social cohesion. In this respect, the synergy between arts, design and urban evolution appears indispensable for transforming civic spaces into more inviting and functional places, reducing inequalities and imagining more welcoming and beautiful cities for all.

The role of institutions in this perspective can only be to facilitate the exchange and ferment of ideas among young people who choose to devote an important part of their educational and professional path to the creative disciplines. As Roma Capitale we are committed, more and more, to playing our part and we are happy to be able to host the 2023 edition of the Design section of the National Arts Award at MACRO, the Museum of Contemporary Art in Rome. Indeed, we believe in the need to open cultural institutions to young people and students to make them the protagonists of a long-term change, capable of redefining the quality of public spaces and of people’s lives.

Francesco Saverio Aymonino

Vice president Order of Architects, Planners, Landscape Architects and Conservators of Rome and Province

The Order of Architects, Planners, Landscape Architects and Conservators of Rome and Province (OAR) has long had fruitful collaborations with the ISIA of Rome, and it is therefore with great interest that it accepted the invitation to sponsor the award and to assign a special mention to one of the nominated projects.

The participating theses highlight how an education of excellence is a driving factor for those projects that, projecting into future scenarios, prefigure effective solutions to complex problems, combining tradition, innovation and creativity, because «Architectural creation, the quality of constructions, their harmonious integration into the surrounding environment, and the respect for natural and urban landscapes as well as collective and private heritage are matters of public interest.», as Directive 2005/36/EC at 27th.

The challenge ahead is surely the development of urban, environmental and social regeneration processes, that, looking to the future of the planet and its inhabitants, are capable of reintroducing that standard of quality that the current growth model has too often neglected, making our territories environmentally and socially degraded.

The ERO research – agile eco-surveillance addresses a sensitive issue in the regeneration and recovery of territories: the remediation of polluted land. The project proposes a model of decontamination that, through advanced technologies, solves the problem in terms of sustainability and cost-effectiveness, giving back to future generations the hope of living in a healthier and, possibly, more beautiful environment.

Giuseppe Furlanis

Jury president

The complexity that characterizes our time, for which Zygmunt Bauman coined the effective definition liquid modernity to highlight its aptitude to take continuously changing forms, produces a state of uncertainty about possible future scenarios.

A condition of dynamic instability that, in interweaving new needs with new forms of knowledge, asks design to expand its boundaries to address issues of greater relevance, starting with the environmental issues that increasingly expose the inadequacy of our current model of development.

As early as 1970, Tomás Maldonado in his The Hope of Design highlighted the need to interpret design as a global phenomenon with the issue of the environment at its center; this is to counter an entropic process that not only generates the degradation of natural resources but also produces growing social imbalances.

Maldonado’s conception of the project regards research and innovation as complex systems of relationships between multiple skills and multiple different specialized sets of knowledge.

Despite being aware of the seriousness of some social and environmental problems, design, and, in our specific case, design schools, cannot give up a feeling of confidence in the future and being protagonists in processes of change, by proposing projects of real social utility.

In this view, the projects presented on the occasion of the National Arts Award, Visions of Design-Projects from the Future, organized by ISIA Rome, offer themselves as a valuable opportunity for a discussion on the developments in the didactics of design, as well as on the ability of design schools to deal with complex topics while keeping alive an ideal perspective that knows how to give meaning and significance to their choices.

This is an essential condition for those engaged in education, because, as John Dewey wrote, «Education means enriching things with meaning».

The projects presented in the two sections of the , research and thesis, effectively demonstrate how design schools are able to confront the complexity of our time with critical awareness and the ability to propose new design paths.

In this regard, it is possible to look at these students’ works as islands of thought capable of revealing passions, interests and desires; islands that can create archipelagos in which individual experiences, becoming a collective heritage, allow, through the enthusiasm and desire that characterise young people, to look to the future with renewed confidence.