Snow and Design

Snow and Design

In our collective imagination mountains exists as perfectly uncontaminated places, yet they also hold another place of prominence as some of the areas most affected by climate change. Glaciers continue to retreat at ever higher rates: in 1850 they covered about 4,500 km2 of the Alpine surface area, dropping to 2,900 km2 around 1970, and to 1,800 km2 in 2010. This trend shows no signs of reversal. If, according to the alarming forecasts, by 2100 the average temperature in the Alps increases by a further two degrees, the height at which the snow-covered areas begin will increase. Awareness of the data can help us to determine the scenarios for the coming years and to adjust both short and long term strategies.

In the immediate future it will be possible to remedy the effects of climate change with a series of tools, including artificial snowmaking. The evolution of this increasingly high-performance technology makes it possible to ensure that there is snow throughout the entire season. Design plays a crucial role in this by coming up with machinery capable of adapting to the most extreme weather conditions, relating to temperatures as well as altitudes.

In addition, design focuses on experimenting with machinery that is able to reduce water consumption and management costs in order to minimize the financial and environmental impact. As testing extends over a broader time horizon, it is essential to begin to adopt different strategic approaches now so that new climate scenarios do not catch us off guard. It will be essential to increase the number of services and the range of activities in the mountain areas not exclusively focusing on skiing.

Winter Market

The market for snow enthusiasts is substantial and geographically concentrated, comprising some 120 million people with a value of EUR 146 billion. The area of the Alps plays a central role, accounting for about 50% of the total.

This area benefits from the high demand from tourists with a traditional passion for winter sports and skiing in particular. A full 45% of daily ski passes worldwide are concentrated in this area. France and Austria are the leading countries followed by Switzerland and Italy. While Europe is the main market, North America and Asia are also of considerable size in this sphere. China wants to use the 2022 Winter Olympic Games to develop new opportunities with the aim of involving 300 million people in a long-term development project for the industry.

New Scenarios

The snow experience in the coming years will become increasingly more extensive and engaging. Skiing and snowboarding will always play a central role but will no longer be the sole motivation for experiencing the mountains. The Snow Experience Economy is a scenario focused on creating a wide range of activities to meet new expectations. An assessment of consumer demands shows strong segmentation by age groups. For the younger generations the theme of fun plays a central role, with the search for extra entertainment both on and off the slopes. Generation Xers and Baby Boomers, on the other hand, appreciate activities connected to exploring territories and landscapes. An increased range of better organized services makes it possible to free up mountain tourism from its seasonal nature, seeing good numbers of visitors throughout the year and not just in winter.

There are several examples of this. Dolomites not only offer splendid snow-covered scenarios during the winter season, but also host a series of activities connected to exploring territories, castles and farms amid the colorful landscape of larch trees in autumn.

The whole Alpine range, from Valle d'Aosta to Veneto is seeing a strong increase in local tourism following the pandemic. Mountains, more than other places, are undergoing a period of great transformation. The strategic role of design is once again linked to proposing product and service solutions to make it possible to experience the mountains to the fullest. From the design of snow cannons, to equipment for mountaineering, from mountain bikes to smart backpacks, from skis to ski fittings, attention to safety, ease of use and aesthetic quality are the essential contribution of design to unforgettable experiences in every project.

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