25 July 2018IDM

From New York to Val Gardena has partnered with the renowned Parsons School of Design, joining the likes of international giants Swarovski, Hugo Boss and Luxottica. This brings the small company from Val Gardena a step closer to achieving its aim of uniting tradition with innovation.

From 13 May to 9 June 2018, ten students studying at New York’s Parsons School of Design, which is regarded as one of the world’s most prestigious art and design universities, completed a practical training course at in the valley of Val Gardena in the Dolomites. “The students had the opportunity to design and produce new decorative pieces made from wood for the South Tyrolean tourism industry,” explains Egon Bernardi, the President of To help them prepare for their time at, the work experience students were taught about the theory behind working with wood by their professors in New York and created some initial designs and various prototypes before their visit to South Tyrol.

Every year, Parsons School of Design offers its best students the chance to work with acclaimed companies. The aim is to give these students, who are chosen following a rigorous selection process, the opportunity to gain some initial experience and a taste of the world of work. With just eight employees, is by far the smallest and the least well known of all the companies participating in the scheme, which this year also include the Tyrolean crystal company Swarovski, the Italian glasses company Luxottica and the German fashion house Hugo Boss.

“Combination of designers, wood as a raw material and Val Gardena’s industry experts”

During their stay in Val Gardena, the Parsons students gained practical insights into working with wood, planned the production of wooden pieces and implemented their design projects with the help of the technology available at “The combination of designers, wood as a raw material and Val Gardena’s industry experts are what makes the course so special,” states Bernardi. “Instead of focusing on theoretical project planning for the production of pieces for the global market, the programme at concentrates on the value offered in the local region.”

And why has such an internationally renowned US university chosen to partner with a small South Tyrolean company? “It was our spirit of innovation and the way in which we are known for linking centuries-old tradition with state-of-the-art technology that attracted Parsons to,” says Bernardi. “The university believes that this combination will be of huge importance in the future because it is line with the trend predicted for the next ten to twenty years.” boasts more than ten years of digital manufacturing experience was founded in 2006 as a consortium of several companies from Val Gardena working in the field of wood carving – a handicraft that has been deeply rooted in the valley’s history for generations. Today, the company uses 3D technology and digital techniques to manufacture products from other materials as well as wood for its approximately 350 customers from around the globe.

“Our first steps into the world of digital manufacturing yielded some unexpectedly fantastic results,” recalls Bernardi. “Besides lowering production costs, it soon became clear that automation technologies such as computer numerical control (CNC) and 3D modelling could be used to produce pieces and components that had never been made from wood before. What’s more, the new technology has given a new lease of life to traditional methods of working, the use of typical pantographs and the sector’s artisans.”