Compasso d’Oro

The Golden Compass Awards (Il Compasso d’Oro) are a series of industrial design awards that originated in Italy in 1954 when Aldo Borletti of the Milan department store La Rinascente founded them as a one-off. It was an immediate success, attracting 5,700 entries. The Compasso d’Oro was important in promoting good design in everyday things at a time when Italian industry was reestablishing itself after World War II. It also encouraged Italian designers to consider such mundane objects as being worthy of their attention as well as encouraging manufacturers to invest in designers. The 1954 winners set the pattern for future competitions; they in cluded a sewing machine, an electric fan, a typewriter, and kitchen components.

The awards continued in 1955, 1956, 1957, and 1959. Due to organizational or economic reasons, the awards are not given every year. The panel of judges is small, usually consisting of around six people drawn from the relevant industries. Judges have included designers such as Marco Zanuso, Vico Magistretti, and Philippe Starck. Awards were given four times in the 1960s, only twice in the 1970s, and four times in the 1980s. Winners have included plastic buckets, sewing machines, lemon squeezers, collapsible dish-racks, washing machines, lamps, gas cookers (stoves), and telephones as well as cars and furniture.

Il Compasso d’Oro is now run by the Associazione Design Industriale (ADI), an association of 750 manufacturers, architects, and designers working in Italy.