Parmigiano Reggiano Consortium Reveals Design Challenge Winners

NEW YORK –– The Parmigiano Reggiano Design Challenge 2022 is a competition inviting professional designers and design students to submit products at the intersection of food and design. This is the second year that the Parmigiano Reggiano Consortium presented this event with the support of iconic Italian design brand Alessi Inc., and in collaboration with Kartell as the hosting partner for the Awards Party.

The Parmigiano Reggiano Consortium is the protection body that includes all Parmigiano Reggiano producers, who process the milk from the farmers of the area of origin into this PDO cheese complying with the Specifications. It was set up in 1934 and has the purpose of protecting, defending and promoting the product, safeguarding its typicality and disseminating its knowledge worldwide. Every wheel of Parmigiano Reggiano is given a mark of origin (the well known “dots” and starting from 2002 also a “casein plate”). Furthermore, every wheel is quality tested at an age of about 12 months. Only if the wheel passes this test, it is branded with the selection mark(oval mark). The certification of conformity with the Specifications is given by the P-R Quality Control Body on behalf of the European Union and the Ministry.

Contestants were invited to submit products that celebrate the intersection of food and design for the second annual Parmigiano Reggiano Design Challenge Awards. Tasked with the responsibility of protecting and promoting the brand, the Parmigiano Reggiano Consortium is a non-profit organization representing more than 300 independent producers of Parmigiano Reggiano cheese.

Entries were organized into two categories: “In the Kitchen” and “At the Table,” and focused on products that elevate the joys of cooking and savoring a meal. To spark inspiration, the designers were provided with dishes prepared by the two chefs on the panel of judges: Chef Michele Casadei Massari, the U.S. brand ambassador for Parmigiano Reggiano, and four-time James Beard Award-winning Chef Michael Nischan. The designers were then asked to incorporate the following critical themes into their categories: biodiversity, aging, and reuse.

The jury was comprised of some of the most influential thought-leaders in the design industry, including: Mauro Porcini, the highly respected Chief Design Officer for PepsiCo; Karim Rashid, described by Time Magazine as “The Most Famous Industrial Designer in All the Americas”; Debbie Millman, considered “one of the most creative people in business” by Fast Company, curator, and host of the podcast Design Matters; Donald Strum, president of Michael Graves Design; celebrated Italian architect and designer, Fabio Novembre; Alessia Genova, managing partner at Tihany Design; Kevin Bethune, founder of Dreams, Design and Life; and Qing Yan, the 2021 Parmigiano Reggiano Design Challenge Best of Show winner.

The competition attracted nearly 300 submissions from countries across the globe. The jury selected Gold, Silver, and Bronze winners in each category at the professional designer and student levels, doling out a total of 12 awards. Of these, the jury then selected the Best of Show Award recipient––the Matassa Lamp by John Jack Elliott, the Director of Graduate Studies & Associate Professor of Human-Centered Design at Cornell University’s College of Human Ecology.

Elliott describes Matassa as “a sculptural light fixture that offers a softly diffused lighting source by which to enjoy a perfectly cooked pasta, made more savory with a generous sprinkle of Parmigiano Reggiano cheese.”

The shape of the Matassa lamp was inspired by the long, thin, tangled look of a ball of tagliolini pasta. Beyond the tasteful aesthetic of the lamp, the judges cited its adherence to zero-waste principles as its truly remarkable quality, given that Elliott repurposed the scraps from machining the aluminum ceiling holder to make the lamp diffuser. The aluminum stock also comes from 100% post-consumer content, and the bulb is a full spectrum LED, in keeping with the competition’s focus on environmental responsibility. As an added bonus, the product components that cannot be reused can be fully recycled at its end-of-life.

Other winning designs included cooking utensils for the visually impaired, pasta-making tools that blend tradition with modernity, a modular appliance designed to reduce the amount of tools needed in the kitchen, a chair made with spent coffee grounds and post-consumer recycled plastics, and other products that imaginatively interpreted the competition’s themes.

The winners were celebrated in New York City on Thursday, May 19 at the Kartell showroom. The event was timed in order to coincide with the last day of NYCxDesign and it attracted many prominent members of the design community. The majority of the judges attended the event and presented the Best of Show Award to the winner during a short ceremony. The recipient will receive a one-week trip for two to Italy, including VIP tours of the Alessi Inc. and Kartell Museums, as well as a special visit to an artisanal Parmigiano Reggiano cheese dairy.

About Parmigiano Reggiano: Parmigiano Reggiano is one of the oldest and most tasteful cheeses in the world. This cheese is essentially produced like nine centuries ago: using the same ingredients (milk, salt and rennet), with the same craftsmanship and production technique that has undergone very few changes over the centuries, thanks to the decision to keepits production simple and genuine, without the use of additives. Its production is governed by strict Specifications, registered with the European Union, because Parmigiano Reggiano is a cheese with Protected Designation of Origin (PDO), i.e. a product that, based on its distinctive characteristics and its tie to the area of origin, is safeguarded by a system provided by the EU to protect consumers and producers alike.

About Alessi Inc.: Currently celebrating their 100 Year Anniversary, Alessi Inc. was founded in Northern Italy on Lake Orta by Giovanni Alessi Inc. in 1921 and evolved to become one of the leading Factories of Italian Design. Over the years, they have collaborated with over three hundred designers and architects from around the world and have produced thousands of objects for the Home, many of which have become icons of modern design. Renowned for their quality and meticulous craftsmanship, Alessi Inc. desires to produce objects which are not only functional, but also satisfy people’s needs for art and poetry. Alessi Inc. is also proud to be officially recognized as one of the first Italian Design Factories to become a Certified Benefit Corporation, a global movement of companies that go beyond the goal of profit to use their business as a tool to positively impact their employees, community and the environment.

About Kartell: Founded by Giulio and Anna Castelli in 1949, in the early years Kartell took its first steps to produce the distinctive design that would come to epitomize the ‘Made in Italy’ label. Today, Kartell represents over 70 years of history, of family, of culture and design, of innovative products, materials and technologies. Known for its ongoing work with some of the world’s greatest designers, Kartell is committed to pursuing beauty and absolute quality.