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Presentation at Politecnico di Milano of the Gianfranco Ferré Research Centre, the immense heritage left by this designer who graduated from Politecnico di Milano in1969. Attending the event were the Rector of Politecnico di Milano, Ferruccio Resta, the President of the Fondazione Gianfranco Ferré Alberto Ferré and the Director General of the Foundation Rita Airaghi.

After establishing the Foundation in 2008, the Ferré family has now decided to donate its archives and the headquarters in Via Tortona, designed by Franco Raggi, to Politecnico di Milano.

As it stands, the Foundation’s heritage, almost entirely catalogued in a digital database, encompasses more than 150,000 documents and artefacts including sketches, technical drawings, photos, clothing and accessories, objects, books, magazines, films, press reviews, writings, lectures, and notes by the designer. This archive, recognised as being of “particular cultural interest” by the Ministry of Cultural Heritage and Activities – Archival Superintendence for Lombardy, is now part of the Politecnico di Milano Historical Archives system.

Coordinated by the Department of Design, the Gianfranco Ferré Research Centre intends to merge the skills, technical-scientific knowledge and design culture of the Politecnico di Milano with the tangible and intangible heritage relating to the history, culture and techniques of fashion preserved and enhanced by the Gianfranco Ferré Foundation.

The Centre is based on an interdisciplinary vision capable of combining tradition with innovation and technology, and it integrates in-depth knowledge of design and fashion with digital skills. One distinctive aspect is therefore the grafting of techniques and knowledge typical of the tailoring, craftsmanship and technical culture of the creative industries with advanced technological solutions such as augmented reality and virtual reality; reverse modelling, digital prototyping and 3D printing; haptic and sonic perception; holographic rendering, animated graphics, and movie production.

Digital technologies have already been widely applied in the fashion sector, but it still lacks an integrated approach capable of exploring the full potential of hybridisation between the physical and virtual dimensions, in order to rethink the use of fashion artefacts from a viewpoint of cultural enhancement and “augmented narration”.

The Research Centre intends to launch a series of interdisciplinary experiments which, under the coordination of the Fashion in Process Laboratory of the Department of Design, will involve many of the university’s disciplinary components, from mechanical engineering to information engineering, bioengineering, and mathematical engineering, with a view to exploring some research and innovation trajectories. The first year of activity will end with an initiative open to the public that will showcase some unique pieces from the Ferré archive set against the new scenarios of digital transformation of the creative and cultural industries.

“The value of heritage is that it resists, grows and looks to the future. Preserving means continuing to make thoughts and objects come alive in new forms. This is the objective of the Gianfranco Ferré Research Centre, which we are inaugurating today, with the aim of promoting digital innovation in the creative and cultural industries,” commented Ferruccio Resta, Rector of Politecnico di Milano. “Gianfranco Ferré, a great fashion designer and artist, was an ambassador for Italy and for our university the world over: one of those names that makes us proud. What strikes us about all his work is its precision, perhaps due to the design skills inherent in his training as an architect, and its emotion. This combination of technique and art, method and inventiveness is something we encourage in our classrooms and laboratories with the experimentation that today happens thanks to the increasingly closer convergence of technology and creativity.”

“The establishment of the Gianfranco Ferré Research Centre at Politecnico di Milano makes me particularly happy and proud to have honoured my commitment to keep alive the memory and value of my brother Gianfranco,” comments Alberto Ferré, president of the Foundation. “We can now hand this task over to those who will certainly know how to use the most advanced tools to make raise awareness and further disseminate a cultural heritage of immense value, thanks to different projects and experimentation supported by new languages. A return home, to ‘his’ Politecnico, where teaching and research are the result of continuous experimentation, where the latest technologies can be used to interpret and lend contemporary form to the fruit of the poetry, creativity and dreams that underlie Gianfranco’s fashion, which has always combined these values with method and design “Made in Politecnico””.