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Dezeen and MINI World Tour: in our final movie recorded at the MINI Paceman Garage in Milan, MINI head of design Anders Warming takes us through the history of the original car and Max Fraser, deputy director of the London Design Festival, explains why he believes Milan needs to improve the visitor experience during its design week.
The original MINI was designed in the 1950s by Alec Issigonis for the British Motor Corporation and launched in 1959. "Back then it was designed as a mobility concept," says Warming. "It was such a clever package. It was the first mass-production transverse engine with the cooling on the side of the engine so we had no long front overhangs. That's something that's been carried through the MINI [design] ever since."
The original MINI was not only compact, Warming explains, it won races too. "In 1964 we won the Monte Carlo [Rally] and it was beating much larger cars with six and eight cylinder [engines]," he says. "That is one side of the brand, the racing heritage: it's such a fun car to drive and it's such an efficient way of putting power to the road."
Warming says that BMW drew inspiration from this history when they launched their new MINI design in 2001. "Entering the new world, we found out that that's exactly what people are looking for," he says. "[People want] a clever package that makes for a fun driving experience and at the same time is a beautiful car."
Max Fraser, deputy director of the London Design Fesitval, was the final guest in our Dezeen and MINI World Tour Studio.
"I now come to Milan with a slightly different hat on," says Fraser, who took up his position at London Design Festival in 2012. "I'm now looking at Milan from a research point of view. How does Milan compare to the London Design Festival, if at all? And actually one of the most interesting things that I've been observing is the navigation of the city. I think it's very difficult, and the reason for that is there's no coherence to the week, which is really frustrating."
"Milan is a phenomenon because it's been going for such a long time that it's grown into the most important design event in the year," Fraser continues. "What that's created is almost a monster in so much as there's so much noise in the city. So I think increasingly there will be a backlash, that there's just too much going on and it's really, really difficult to be heard."
Fraser believes that the city should be doing much more to improve transport in the city during design week. "The infrastructure of this week is incredibly frustrating," he says. "The subway system is ever so confusing, it's impossible to flag down a taxi on the street, you sit in traffic the whole time."
"I think where the city can actually help is in trying to regulate that more efficiently. The economic impact of [the design week] to Milan is immense, so I think the least they could do is to try to make it a more pleasurable and easier-to-traverse experience."
Fraser then goes on to say that he believes Milan and London are set apart from many other design weeks around the world because there is a strong local design community.
"Design is key to distinguishing a city from another city," he says. "At the last count, there were just shy of 100 design weeks around the world [but] a lot of [the design] is imported, they fly it in."
"I think it's fair to say that in Milan there's still a very strong community here for design, and London has a strong community for design. And personally, if I fly half way around the world, I want to see design from that place."