Creative industries

Alessi meets Harris Tweed at XpoNorth

A leading figure from Italian design house, Alessi, will be in Inverness during XpoNorth, Scotland’s leading creative industries conference and showcase event on 7 and 8 June.

Matteo Alessi, Executive Vice President of International Sales and Development at the world-renowned retail giant, will be at XpoNorth on Wednesday 7 June.

He will talk about the ‘power of provenance’ alongside Lorna Macaulay, the Chief Executive of the Harris Tweed Authority.

Matteo is the great grandson of the company’s founder, Alberto, who started the firm in a small factory in 1921, manufacturing brass and silver-plated products for the table, then later, stainless steel products.

Today, Alessi has evolved into one of the leading factories of Italian design of stainless steel items and now includes ranges including chinaware, plastic and wood.

An international brand that works with more than 200 international designers and architects from all over the world, it boasts a collection of over 4000 products.

The importance of a brand's sense of place will be put under the spotlight at this special in-conversation session featuring Matteo and Lorna. This event is organised as a joint initiative between The Glasgow School of Art's Highlands and Islands campus and Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE). It will be chaired by Don McIntyre, Design Director at The Glasgow School of Art’s Institute of Design Innovation.

Matteo said: “In our experience at Alessi, we leverage on the power of provenance as a source of creativity and difference. We strongly believe in the fact that designers are thinkers and the output of their creative process is influenced by their past experiences and their provenance.

“I love the Highlands and the north of Scotland in general. I believe that designers coming from the area could have an edge on peers from elsewhere if they could find a way to incorporate some of the strong cultural elements of this beautiful part of the world their creative style.

“I think companies like Alessi and Harris Tweed, though in a different way, can add value thanks to provenance, because it helps us going down the simpler road of ‘mainstream’ design. Our role as brands is to keep pushing for a design industry that uses provenance as a source of inspiration and brings it to the market as a value added element.”

XpoNorth which is free to attend, is funded by HIE, the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and Creative Scotland. The event will see international industry insiders meet and mix with aspiring musicians, filmmakers, broadcasters, designers, makers, game developers, writers and publishers.

Matteo is the only one of his 15-strong generation who works for the family firm. He is now in charge of marketing and international development, a role which has brought him to work from London.

Donna Chisholm, Head of Regional Sectors at HIE, said that it is fantastic to have such high-calibre speakers and delegates from all over the world here to share their experiences.

She said: “The two days provide an excellent opportunity for business people in the Highlands and Islands to meet other creative people as well as hear from a range of globally-renowned experts in each creative field. Many people who showcase go on to become successful after attending the event. The conference is flourishing and reflects the success of the creative industries in Scotland.

XpoNorth director, Amanda Millen, said: "In the ten years I have been involved, XpoNorth has grown from a small niche music industry festival into a wide-reaching conference and showcase which brings together a host of elements under one creative umbrella. There are a lot of key creative industries influencers who attend and creative connections are forged every minute of the day during the course of the two days.

"There really isn't anything else like it in Scotland.” 

The GSA’s School of Simulation and Visualisation (SimVis) and Institute of Design Innovation (InDI) will have a significant presence at XpoNorth, with staff and researchers participating in panel discussions. SimVis will host a Virtual Reality showcase in XpoNorth's new Technology & Gaming Playground.

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