The exhibition that illustrates the stories of 32 Compasso d'Oro winning products developed in the Bergamo and Brescia provices, explained by its curator Davide Pagliarini

From March 24th to June 4th 2023 at Palazzo della Ragione in Bergamo, with the exhibition Fabbriche Thinking, design will be staged: 32 products made by companies in the territories of Bergamo and Brescia, which have been awarded the Compasso d'Oro since 1954 until today.

The project comes from an idea of DimoreDesign, developed by MULTI and Associazione Marketing +39.

It is an exhibition that promises to be fascinating, a real must for those who love design because, also thanks to an impressive body of studies created to support the curatorial commitment, it will tell what design is, what its true function and its deep meaning.

“Thought is contained in doing, the hand that thinks. For the producer, his thinking is his doing”, says Davide Pagliarini, architect and curator of the exhibition.

We got told…

Where is the Thinking Factories exhibition hosted?

Davide Pagliarini: “Fabbriche Pensanti is set up in the Sala delle Capriate of the Palazzo della Ragione in Bergamo, a special home. We find ourselves in the medieval city, of guilds, winemakers, shoemakers, blacksmiths, carpenters, which was born out of dispersed molecular realities, each of which protects its own knowledge and knowledge.

The Palazzo della Ragione is the place for public meetings, where the trades and the arts debate, negotiate, decide the most important policies and strategic choices. This makes everyone stronger. The meaning is to find cohesion rather than representation of singularity.

How was it set up?

Davide Pagliarini: “The visitor will find himself in front of a house painted in ruby red of almost 200 square meters, with texts and icons in white and gold, to recall the colors of the Compasso d'Oro.

Not a podium where the best have the light on them, but a place where objects meet through the gaze of the public, creating silent dialogues.

The aim is to find analogies, transference of knowledge between one object and another, unprecedented and curious relationships”.

Why Ruby red?

Davide Pagliarini: “Ruby red is a color emotionally capable of igniting souls, linked to eros, to the feeling of love, to the bloody aspects of our nature. He is not cold, soft-spoken and conciliatory. Brings energy and vigor.

The sanguine aspect is in the history of provinces bearing knowledge, know-how, and valuable specialized workforce. Territories that were located in strategic European squares.

I am thinking of the wool and textile system but also of mechanics: we have always been the sub-suppliers of the European and world markets.

These results are achieved with stubbornness, tenacity, pragmatism and at the same time a sort of understatement. The combination of pride and moderation has made these territories precious for many realities".

How do you visit Thinking Factories?

Davide Pagliarini: “Going around them or visiting them inside. It is a domus a patio with closed and open sides.

On the walls are captions with the date of the object and minimal information, a time line. For each piece there are drawers and doors, opening which you can find information about each object. It is not an imposing and univocal path, it is a great game, also designed for educational use".

Gold Compasses 32 + 1, what is +1?

Davide Pagliarini: “It's the 33rd: a compass that doesn't belong to the Bergamo and Brescia victories but is Milanese. The Lombardy Region logo is included because it is the sign conceived by Bob Noorda, Roberto Sambonet, Pino Tovaglia and Bruno Munari inspired by and redesigning a sign present on the rock engravings of Valle Camonica . Something primitive, ancestral and modern.

Nature, the specific conformation of a region and the human gesture that continue to live in that sign.

It is interesting to observe how a rotational print or the assembly technology of the Frida chair by Odo Fioravanti can dialogue with a gesture that has such a remote date. I don't see them that far away: it's always human intelligence".

Which is the first company to receive the award?

Davide Pagliarini: “In 1954, the year in which the Compasso d'Oro was awarded by La Rinascente, three objects were awarded: the ”48 AL” automatic hunting rifle for sporting use by Franchi, the suitcase-bag business model “24 hours” by designer Giovanni Fontana from Valextra and the “ZeroWatt V.E.505” fan. Let's open with these three."

And we close with?

Davide Pagliarini: “With the Easy Covid connection valve, conceived by a Brescia-based start-up that used a commonly used diving mask with mouthpiece, adapting it and inventing a valve that has saved thousands of lives.

See also: XXVII ADI Compasso d'Oro: here are the winners

Cheap, easy to produce and open source, the project was shared on the net: a 3D printer was enough to make the valve.

Curious that the exhibition is constructed as a sort of circular path that begins with the analogue of an automatic hunting rifle, a handcrafted leather suitcase and a mechanical fan, and ends with digital technologies and the concept of network sharing”.

Have you been in contact with the companies involved?

Davide Pagliarini: “A team of six editors, professors from the Milan and Turin Polytechnic collaborated on the project, who interviewed the realities involved.

The element of interest of the project, in addition to the 32 essays, are 32 interviews with as many subjects, producers, designers and scholars.

A series of talks dedicated to the future of design and manufacturing and serial podcasts. On older objects, the company either no longer existed, or in other cases it inherited a Compasso d'Oro won in the 50s or 60s from a company that disappeared.

The heritage remained.
We put our noses into the factories: a 400-page volume will be produced, with a full-bodied iconographic apparatus.

How rotational printing is done, how a veneer is glued to a polyurethane, how a brake disc is melted. Not just a didactic dimension, but a work of great curiosity.

In my opinion we shouldn't stop at the Compassi d'Oro, there is knowledge that hasn't won any prizes but is of extraordinary interest. The meaning is to ask yourself what is design, what is its true function and its profound meaning. I like that in this exhibition there is a manhole cover, a brake, a valve. Elements that belong to the mechanics of the most ordinary and least visible things.

What is the meaning of this initiative?

Davide Pagliarini: “The deep meaning is trying to identify a cohesion between parts.

Bergamo and Brescia have numerous excellences but are not recognizable and identifiable with a specific sector, such as that of Brianza, characterized by furniture.

Bergamaschi and Bresciani are characterized by versatility and the ability to produce diversified artifacts.

Fundamentally the desire to bind, to try to unite, to reason together with the singularities that today are little talked about, or perhaps do not have the awareness of being a collective body, regardless of the rhetoric of provincial divisions”.

Bergamos and Brescians don't like to tell each other...

Davide Pagliarini: “A manufacturer of devices, mechanical appliances doesn't want to talk about himself, he is absorbed by his work, his thinking is his doing.

The title of this exhibition comes from this concept. First there is the factory in the sense of homo faber. In doing, thought is contained, the hand that thinks”.

It is an exhibition that approaches the spirit of the territory

Davide Pagliarini: “My grandparents made sweets in the lower plains; as a child I breathed that industrious air, that idea of rootedness, with a certain amount of generosity. It is my desire to continue this investigation by expanding it, beyond the Compasso d'Oro.
The ADI has its indisputable authority, let's start from a seal that has an important value to which further reflections can be added”.