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When a scooter becomes art

By Lin Qi | China Daily | Updated: 2017-05-15 08:31

When a scooter becomes art

Series Off Series is an ongoing exhibition on modern Italian design at the National Museum of China.[Photo provided to China Daily]

A show at the National Museum of China highlights modern Italian design, including the iconic Vespa. Lin Qi reports.

The 1953 romantic comedy Roman Holiday elevated Audrey Hepburn to international fame. It also brought worldwide attention to Vespa, a scooter designed in the late 1940s by Corradino D'Ascanio.

In the film, Hepburn and Gregory Peck rode a Vespa around the streets of Rome. Its appearance in movie posters gave a great boost to its sales.

The Vespa in the film, the oldest known model, fetched 191,000 euros ($208,000) in an online auction in March.

Italian manufacturer Piaggio sold about one million Vespa scooters in the 1950s, and one is now on show at the National Museum of China as part of Series Off Series, an exhibition on modern Italian design running through July 25.

The scooter design shows how Italian designers managed to make a product that became an icon of modern life despite a shortage of raw materials after World War II.

Vespa means "wasp" in Italian, and was named for the similar shape and sound it made. While cars remained a luxury, it fulfilled most people's need of an affordable vehicle for daily use.

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