(CNN)This is the first of our new Style Italia series – dedicated to the past, present and future of Italian design.

Gathering to eat with family and friends is a cornerstone of Italian life, and so it’s no surprise that the architecture of the table has inspired many Italian designers to make extraordinary objects.
Designer Ettore Sottsass lovingly crafted his classic 1987 Nuovo Milano cutlery to be as “smooth as sea-worn stones,” while industrialist Alberto Alessi saw fit to commission world-famous architects to make miniature skylines of jugs, pots, and percolators.
Would any other country have taken functional food utensils and transported them to this often surreal hinterland of art, architecture and design?
Yet, the story of how Italy came to comprehensively dominate the global design field — in everything from cars, to clothes, to furniture — is a remarkable one.
Emerging from the rubble of World War II as an impoverished and exhausted nation on the wrong side of history — defeated in war and lagging far behind its more industrialised European counterparts — it surely seemed unlikely.
Discover how, in just two decades, an alliance of city-states seized space-age manufacturing and Mediterranean tradition to make Italian design just so good.
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