How does a classic of Italian design – the Vespa - translate into markets around the world?

Last year, Vespa’s parent company, Piaggio, reconfirmed its leadership for two-wheeler motor vehicle sales for all of Europe.  Vespa is the undisputed king in this domain.

Beyond Europe, and especially in those markets that face social and economic challenges posed by rapid urban development, including in Central and South East Asia, Vespa sales are not so high.   

Piaggio company representatives are asking, ‘How can the Vespa, which was created and manufactured to provide an effective and affordable mode of urban transport to Europeans in the aftermath of WWII, better service world markets as they face development issues on many fronts?’  

For innovative answers, Vespa is turning its attention once again to university students.

In 2017, 400 UNSW Art & Design graphics media students have been posed the question: ‘How do you envision urban mobility and the Vespa of the future?’

Known as the Piaggio Project, the program is run through two graphic design courses which address visual identity and visual communication. Participating students are treated to a unique study opportunity that can only come by working with a leading international company on a project that has real-world outcomes.  

Piaggio has prepared a design brief for the students wherein they are asked to consider the complexities of sustainable urban planning in many of the fastest growing cities of the world.  In addition to the increasing demand for housing, transport, and community infrastructure, issues such as conflicting stakeholder interests are also taken into account.

The goal? Imaginative solutions to personal urban transport needs of the future.    

According the UNSW Art & Design academic lead on the project, Senior Lecturer Dr Ian McArthur, “It’s rare for students to get a chance to develop designs that respond in a meaningful way to real-world issues.  The project is asking them to interpret the future of Vespa as a brand story within the context of rapidly changing urban environments.  Through teamwork the students will be generating concepts for exhibition and that could also be realized as prototypes.  As a student and emerging designer, one doesn’t get many opportunities like this.” 

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