In a momentous event held at the Aula Magna Giovanni Agnelli of the Politecnico di Torino on January 12, 2024, the acclaimed car designer Marcello Gandini was conferred with an Honorary Degree in Mechanical Engineering. This prestigious recognition marks a significant milestone not just in Gandini’s illustrious career but also in the ongoing evolution of car design worldwide.
The Politecnico di Torino, a globally renowned institution for engineering and technology, acknowledged Gandini’s exceptional contributions to the convergence of mechanics, ergonomics, technology, and style. The honour, bestowed by the Magnifico Rettore Guido Saracco, reflects Gandini’s profound impact on the automotive landscape. The event saw the presence of influential figures in the car design industry, creating an atmosphere brimming with passion and innovation.
Gandini, a visionary since the age of 16, shared his journey, expressing gratitude for a career rooted in a passion for engineering and automotive design. His Lectio Magistralis resonated with a commitment to excellence that has defined his iconic creations, from the Lamborghini Miura to the Renault Magnum. The emotional connection Gandini established with his audience reaffirmed the enduring power of art, creativity, and human emotion in the face of technological advancement.
The Politecnico di Torino event featured a captivating display of historic cars designed by Gandini for the Carrozzeria Bertone, Lamborghini, Maserati etc. Notable models, including the Autobianchi Runabout (1969), the Ferrari Rainbow (1976), the Lamborghini Miura (1966), the Maserati Shamal (1990), the Lamborghini Countach (1974) and Diablo (1990), the Maserati Khamsin (1974), the Alfa Romeo Montreal (1970) the Lancia Stratos (1973) and many more highlighted the genius and innovation embedded in Gandini’s work. The juxtaposition of these timeless automobiles served as a visual testament to his impact on the automotive industry.
Gandini’s design journey was fueled by a rebellious spirit. In his own words, “Ricavate dalle imposizioni un forte senso di ribellione” (Extract from limitations and impositions a strong sense of rebellion). At the age of 85, he reflected on his early days, where the money intended for a Latin translation book was instead spent on Dante Giacosa’s “Motori Endotermici,” a text he devoured and memorized. Gandini urged future engineers and designers to derive a determined and constructive sense of rebellion from limitations and impositions.
Despite reaching retirement age, Gandini continues his work, focusing on research and innovation. Recently, his efforts have resulted in patents and inventions. He shared, “Cerco di tenermi impegnato” (I try to keep myself engaged). My next project is in Qatar, where I am working on a training platform for the Doha Car Museum. And I have other ideas that I want to develop.” Gandini’s commitment to pushing boundaries and embracing innovation remains unwavering.
Addressing students, Gandini extended an invitation, “Utilizzate la tecnologia per quello che è, cioè un mezzo per mettere in pratica delle idee (Use technology for what it is, a means to implement ideas). Ma non smettete di scrivere, disegnare, fare calcoli, creare schizzi su carta (But don’t stop writing, drawing, doing calculations, creating sketches on paper). La matita è un mezzo straordinario di connessione tra il cervello – le idee – e la realtà (The pencil is an extraordinary means of connection between the brain – ideas – and reality), e iniziare un progetto partendo da un foglio di carta e da una matita significa che c’è un’idea (and starting a project from a sheet of paper and a pencil means there is an idea). Se non c’è un’idea originale, nessun prodigio tecnologico la può creare al vostro posto (If there is no original idea, no technological marvel can create it for you),” he concluded.
Marcello Gandini’s Honorary Degree is not just a recognition of a designer’s career but a celebration of innovation, rebellion, and enduring wisdom.
The conferment of the Honorary Degree in Mechanical Engineering upon Marcello Gandini at the Politecnico di Torino stands as a landmark moment in the history of car design. This recognition not only honours a legendary designer but also serves as an inspiration for aspiring engineers and artists. Marcello Gandini’s journey, his emotional connection with the audience, and the collaborative spirit showcased at the event collectively affirm the enduring power of creativity and innovation in the ever-evolving landscape of car design.
Being part of this extraordinary event was truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Surrounded by the brilliance of car designers, engineers, and passionate individuals who have left an indelible mark on the global car design industry was both humbling and inspiring. I extend my heartfelt gratitude to Maria Paola and Alfredo Stola from StudioTorino for the gracious invitation and for orchestrating this remarkable occasion. This event wouldn’t have been possible without the continuous support from IAAD which believes in pushing the boundaries of transportation design. It’s an honour to be entrusted with leading the Transportation Design Department into the future.