Italian design masters at the classic Piaggio brand have challenged UNSW Art & Design students to adapt and tailor scooter designs synonymous with everything the world loves about Italy.

Is there anyone in the world that doesn’t dream of an Italian lifestyle? The country is known for millennia of art and culture, a delectable diet, a temperate climate, historic cities, siestas, passionate and warm hospitality, and of course the impeccable style of its people (even the police uniform in Italy is designed by Armani). What is not to love – or envy?

Piaggio is aware of this unmatched legacy, which is why in the company’s 122-year history, their marketers have capitalised upon notions of Italian style to sell the iconic motor scooter – the Vespa – the world over.   

In 2011 the Piaggio Group shipped more than 415,000 two-wheeled vehicles worldwide.  However the company projects that the global market is more than 49 million units annually; so opportunities for growth are vast. 

In response to this opportunity the savvy team at Piaggio has implemented a plan. 

They are joining forces with carefully selected local creative talent in key economies to “tweak” the design of the Vespa to increase appeal to foreign consumers. If you think this means that the foundation of Vespa style is altered, fear not. The central brand identity, and the classic shape and lines, will remain. However, Piaggio understands that while people outside Italy may yearn for an Italian look or lifestyle, these consumers are fundamentally defined by different values and histories. Piaggio aims to subtly incorporate these differences into international production models. 

Of course, Piaggio wants to work only with the freshest talent in key markets to ensure that unique signature “flares” accepted into the design will reflect design excellence. 

In Australia, Piaggio is working with UNSW Art & Design students to bring this goal to fruition. Titled The UNSW Piaggio Project, design students in their 2nd and 3rd year have the opportunity to address this prestigious live professional brief. 

The project brief outlines how students will work with the internationally recognised company Piaggio “to develop design concepts that visually communicate how Vespa sits culturally in the contemporary and ‘near future’ Australian context.” Students are asked to “maximise brand exposure and improve relevance to different target audiences” including ‘the young hipster’, ‘the environmentally conscious inner-city dweller’, and ‘the forty-something year old commuter’.

It is speculated that students might provide design options for extras, such as a surfboard rack, distinct surface graphics, and brand association solutions so that Vespa can develop further relationships with life style groups like Nike and Ray Ban.

The project culminates when Piaggio and UNSW select one winning concept which will then go into production.

For more information on the UNSW Piaggio Project, contact Ian McArthur.