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Design Diplomacy: Italy
Past event Free event

Design Diplomacy: Italy

Design Diplomacy is a series of public conversations in an ambassador or high commissioner residence or chancery.

A design professional from the hosting embassy’s country meets a Canberra designer in a new card game in which playful and intelligent questions challenge both the speakers and the audience to reflect upon design as a part of intercultural exchange. The concept boldly combines prestigious diplomatic settings and architecture with informal discussions. Importantly, it builds vital international links for the embassies, speakers and audiences. Design Diplomacy was launched in 2016 as part of the Helsinki Design Week program and in 2019 will be a signature DESIGN Canberra event. It is always extremely well received by designers, embassies and audiences.

This event is by invitation only. To express an interest in attending, please email

About the Embassy of Italy Ambassador’s Residence

On a September afternoon in 1955, with “the wattle and prunus in bloom, (and) the mountains sprinkled with snow”, Italian-born and trained architect Enrico Taglietti and his new wife Francesca arrived in Canberra in a Fiat 500.

Taglietti, a recent graduate of architecture from the Milan Polytechnic, was selected by Sir Charles Lloyd Jones to curate an exhibition of art, design and fashion entitled “ Italy at David Jones” in Sydney.( including examples of his own work). Originally intending to stay only 6 weeks, the exhibition was hugely successful and the Tagliettis extended their stay by several months. They accepted an invitation from the Italian Ambassador to visit Canberra to look for a suitable location for the new Italian Embassy.

Taglietti returned to Canberra in 1956 and set about building his practice. This included preparing the working drawings for the Ambassador’s residence, which was designed by the Ministry of Public Works in Rome, and supervising its construction in time for a visit by the President of Italy in 1967. The Ambassador’s residence is designed in the Late Twentieth-Century Stripped Classical style. With the formal spaces arranged around a central courtyard that has its origins in the Roman “city house”, this space contains sculpture, fruits trees and a place to sit in the sun in winter. Taglietti went on to design the embassy’s Chancellery (located next door to the residence), a more dramatic design of cubic-form reinforced concrete, stoutly protruding spandrels, piers on battered bases, horizontal lines and splayed profiles. It was completed in 1974.