Craftsmanship 4.0, is it possible? The case of ‘Design Italian Shoes’

Country: Italy
Craftsmanship 4.0, is it possible? The case of 'Design Italian Shoes'
Text: Inexhibit
Images: DIS-Design Italian Shoes


Craftsmanship 4.0, is it possible? The case of ‘Design Italian Shoes’

50 million different models of hand-made shoes? It seems impossible, yet it isn’t.
Some time ago I found on MPA, the magazine of the Polytechnic University of Milan, an interview to Guglielmo Fiocchi, an aerospace engineer who, after working in the automotive industry for years, is now engaged in the corporate restructuring sector. In the interview, Fiocchi explains what, for him, are the reasons behind a successful business. “To have a god idea in not enough (….) in Europe we should focus on top of the line products. It you rely on low prices you will always lose to Asians. A structured approach aimed to the international market makes a perfect combination with Italian products, which are traditionally based on innovation, design, and quality.”
This stimulates my interest, since I well know how difficult is to communicate the quality of a product to a global audience these days. To further explain the point, Fiocchi cites the example of DIS-Design Italian Shoes, a company – founded by brothers Andrea and Francesco Carpineti and by Michele Luconi (based in the Marche region, central Italy) – which produces hand-made shoes and sell them in 30 countries.


This is not that exceptional in itself, but there is something more. The company’s shoes are made by local artisans – all based in an area of few square miles in the Marche region – personalized by the customers through an online application which combines different colors, shoestrings, and leather finishes into fifty million of different configurations. The customized models defined through the web app are then sent to the artisans, and the customers receive their hand-made shoes in ten days. Thus, a company which has been able to combine the traditional craftsmanship of a territory – the so-called “shoe valley” of the Marche region, in this case – with the new opportunities brought by Web 2.0 into something which, borrowing the concept of Industry 4.0, we could call Craftsmanship 4.0.





above: DIS-Design Italian Shoes. Sreenshots of the web site app


The case of DIS can be a model applicable to other companies working in the high-quality design sector. Therefore, I would like to identify some of the key-points which make it interesting, to my eye. The first is the idea to create a network of small craft businesses which allow them to reach a broad and international clientele they can hardy have access to by themselves. The second, equally important point, is a product customization which, through the “controlled custom-tailoring” provided by the online application, generates a large number of hand-made product variants from a limited array of predefined components. Which is a technique common in industrial manufacturing but rarely used in the low-volume craft sector.
The third is the possibility to exploit an innovative communication and commercialization platform (including the web app and a multilingual website) whose expense and technical implementation the single small craft business can’t usually bear by itself.


Images courtesy of DIS – Design Italian Shoes.

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