La rivista” Marmo” fa parte di un progetto, visionario e lungimirante

La rivista” Marmo” fa parte di un progetto, visionario e lungimirante - News / Events
The magazine “Marmo” is part of a visionary, longsighted project which puts business culture, now much more important than ever, back at the centre. From 1962 to 1971, “Marmo” had not been just a publication about applied arts and marble that had been planned and created by Henraux under the direction of Erminio Cidonio, who was for marble what Adriano Olivetti was for mechanical engineering: along with other avant-garde experiences of the Sixties, such as “Zodiac”, “Civiltà delle macchine”, “Stile Industria”, “Ottagono”, with designers, intellectuals and businessmen all playing a key role, though in different areas, it was part of that unique group of experiences and relations that the identity of our country is built upon.

Nowadays, when we speak of innovation, of industrial development, of relations with the local community, of respect for work values and the role of “creativity” in expertise, between craftsmanship and industry, then those unique experiences of the Sixties, a heroic era of pioneers who put their reputation at stake and did not back down from all things new that came and went in everyday life, cannot be forgotten or confined to nostalgia, because they can still powerfully speed up the production of ideas and things.

All you have to do is hitting the mark with the right purpose and not just list some highfaluting plan, step after step, and be aware that there are people at the centre of any idea, and there are people, again, before any product, when you have to disclose it as well as “selling” it.

One must be able to speak the language of things, just like we are able to speak the language of words: behind every single thing there is a chain of skills, of openings on different worlds, on mould-braking worlds. There is, above all, a glance that will not just narcissistically look at itself, pleased with the little it sees; it is outside our backyard that we can find the “new” again.

Now that it has found its voice again, the magazine “Marmo” was and will be all this: let’s try to line up the main players, so we will be able to speak of a future, even now.

Erminio Cidonio, like Adriano Olivetti and Leopoldo Pirelli, had realised that one had to look elsewhere and put together a group of “concrete visionaries”: here comes, then, such a great orchestrator of cultural and industrial operations as Bruno Alfieri, the father of “Zodiac”, sadly a one-hit wonder (it was too short-lived but this is part and parcel of any avant-garde experience after all), whose heroes were such a great designer, architect, graphic designer and all-round artist as Roberto Sambonet, once again a name that brings back memories of outstandingly innovative and excellent industrial experiences.

Alongside Alfieri, Michele Provinciali, the genius of graphic design, and not just in Italy (his lectures in Chicago, where he attended the Institute of Design, founded by Làslò Moholy-Nagy, a sort of New Bauhaus, in the fifties, were fundamental experiences), who imbued the design and layout of his new magazine with a composure inspired by a neat layout that left the text and images speak for themselves, without ever bossing the authors about, with a good sprinkling of unique, unexpected inventions, which nodded to Marcel Duchamp’s aesthetics: the normality of things that surpasses any form of useless, repetitive style concern. In this case, you don’t mess with marble, because that material is so strong it overcomes any “decorative” concern.

And here, of course, alongside that Provinciali, who, despite being the most international graphic artist back then, did not forget where he came from, that Montefeltro region that gave birth to Piero della Francesca, new “authors” from different, seemingly lateral, backgrounds started to appear, including Giulia Veronesi, Pier Carlo Santini, Gillo Dorfles, next to Le Corbusier, Michelucci, Alvar Aalto.

Marble and architecture, marble and sculpture, but, may I add, marble and design, because, while design was seeing the light of day back then, shyly at first, in those small companies that would eventually be called Cassina, Flos, Artemide, Boffi, to mention just a few, a few glimpses could already be caught of the creation of the first world-class design magazine, ”Ottagono”, in 1966, founded precisely by eight budding companies, the four we mentioned, plus Arflex, Icf, Tecno and Bernini. “Marmo” too was born within a company, Henraux, kept a very special eye on its birthplace, the Apuan Alps and Mount Altissimo, just like Italy’s pioneering design companies, deeply rooted in the 19th-century furniture-making tradition of Brianza, are fed by carpenters, technicians, and craftsmen; but Erminio Cidonio would not forget that the world is the stage one needs to look to, if one wants to broaden the market and bring the big names of art, such as Moore, Arp, Adam, Manzù, Noguchi, to this extraordinary land of Tuscany, and to interact with architects, including Franco Albini and Ignazio Gardella, unfailingly watched over and directed by a few scholars, such as Giuseppe Marchiori, regularly, but very loosely, coordinated by the client.

Sometimes, being consistent may be tiring and it may come at a cost, in all respects, but it is only by looking ahead that one can understand one’s time and use design to bring the future closer: that’s how, again, even if some protagonists have changed, another two great men make their appearance in issue number 4 of “Marmo” (1965): Egidio Bonfante, a graphic artist, also a member of Olivetti’s school, and Ugo Mulas, with his outstandingly intense treatment of Adam’s fountain for Chantilly: Mulas’s photography does not only show a project, it makes us closely understand the language of marble, as if it were one of his famous “Verifiche” of the late Sixties.
All this, to show that “You can eat culture”, Vincenzo Visco, Governor of the Bank of Italy, wrote in a very recent essay: if we want to deal with the big economic and non-economic problems that lie ahead, “more culture will be needed, and the barrier that, in this country, separates the so-called “humanistic culture”, to be promoted, from “technical-scientific culture”, to be invested in, must be overcome, once and for all”. The key reason that the development and growth of a society, or of a company, is built on, is all about knowledge.

The future of Henraux is already here, day after day, and bringing “Marmo” back to life, and not just to take a trip down memory lane, means bringing a relevant story back at the centre of design and production, where all the players involved in such system must do “their job”, without ever forgetting that, even the most outstanding, the most innovative project needs to become “reality”: from the idea to the thing, and that’s why, in our opinion, marble is one of the great, real, never-ending stories of our country; all you need to do is be able to look into it, without ever encroaching on its identity, as Ugo Mulas did in 1965 with his reportage for Marmo 4, which we show again here, as our manifesto for the future.

Aldo Colonetti
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