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DRS Lifetime Achievement Award Presented to Ezio Manzini

DRS Lifetime Achievement Award Presented to Ezio Manzini

The DRS Lifetime Achievement award is made to acknowledge the outstanding contribution of individuals who have significantly contributed to the development of design research over a working lifetime. This year, the DRS was honoured to recognise the contributions of Professor Ezio Manzini to the field of design research by presenting him with the Lifetime Achievement Award at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston during DRS2024.

Ezio Manzini was born in Istria in 1945, although his family fled to Italy because of ethnic cleansing when he was a month old. Manzini went to study and gain two laurea (masters degrees) at Politecnico di Milano in civil engineering and architecture and went on to teach and research environmental issues at the Politecnico di Milano. From 1983 to 1993, Manzini was Director of Research and Director and Vice-President of Domus Academy. In 1993, he returned to Politecnico di Milano to become Full Professor of industrial design in 2010. While at Polimi, he worked on many international projects and was also Director of Research Unit DIS, from 1978 to 2000, and Polimi DESIS Lab, from 2000 to 2010. He was also Scientific Director of the Masters course in Strategic design and Coordinator of the Doctorate of Research. Since 2010, Manzini has been guest professor in several design schools worldwide, including Elisava-Design School and Engineering (Barcelona), Tongji University (Shanghai), Jiangnan University (Wuxi), University of the Arts (London), CPUT (Cape Town), Parsons -The New School for Design (New York City). Previously, Ezio has won many prizes including the Sir Misha Back Medal International prize for design teaching and Compasso d’Oro for the Career (Design Prize). Manzini holds three honorary doctorates including from Aalto University and The New School.

Professor Rachel Cooper, President of the DRS, recognised Manzini at the awards ceremony, noting his contributions to addressing sustainability and other social challenges in his work:

At a time when sustainability was often an afterthought in the design process, he championed it as a fundamental consideration. He has been a vocal advocate for sustainable design practices that consider the environmental impact of products and systems from their inception. Ezio saw the relationship between sustainability and social practice pioneering the field of design for social innovation. Ezio also did pioneering work on collaborative and participatory design processes that engage communities and stakeholders in the creation of solutions. By involving those who are directly affected by social issues in the design process, he has shown that more effective and sustainable solutions can be developed. His work in this area has not only influenced countless designers but has also helped shape policies and practices worldwide.

At the ceremony, Manzini thanked the awarding committee and responded:

My impression is that the design research community, as a whole, has broken the traditional disciplinary limits: and that its spectrum of interest has broadened enormously. For me, this is a positive sign of vitality and attention to where the world is going. My wish and hope is that this opening of interests will be constructive. That is, that it will allow the design research community to build a design culture and a policy capable to lead to results consistent with needs. Which would make it a powerful agent of change [...] Of course, it won't be design alone that will save the world. But design, understood as a community of action, can and must do a lot. As we have seen in this conference, the tools are there. Now we need to take a stand and show possible directions.