From Foscarini, which has been promoting Inventario since 2010, to Lago which does business through a humanistic approach, the realities that invest in cultural initiatives, without a direct economic return, but to broaden horizons and create social value

"We are the sum of the experiences that we are able to give to our collaborators", says Daniele Lago, ceo of the family company.

Lago is one of the (few) Italian realities that invest in creating culture, without asking for anything in return.

“Culture makes us richer, in every sense,” continues Daniele Lago, “for us the important thing is to stimulate and give input to our employees, so that they become better people. It is a constant work of sowing and building the future”.

There are many ways to make culture.

There are those who, like Lago, organize the most diverse activities, from open factories on sustainability to voluntary work in social canteens, those like Foscarini who have been promoting and supporting Inventario since 2010, a independent and free book-zine, "food for thought", as Carlo Urbinati, founder and president of the company of Marcon says, and who like Vitra, every year organizes up to ten wide-ranging exhibitions, which investigate creativity and design at 360 degrees.

Making culture means broadening horizons, creating social value for one's employees and for the entire community and, at the same time, becomes a way to defend and support the Italian design system through ambitious projects, which remain anchored to the product, but who have the courage to fly high.

“Companies are part of an ecosystem, if we all committed ourselves to sowing for others, the world would be better”, concludes Daniele Lago.

Inventario, the Foscarini book-zine that doesn't talk about Foscarini

Among the (few) companies that create culture, without asking for anything in return, Foscarini stands out, which since 2010 has been promoting and supporting Inventario, an independent book-zine and free, conceived and directed by Beppe Finessi and published by CorrainiEdizioni, based on a graphic design by Designwork.

A project awarded with the Compasso d'Oro 2014 for its ability to lightly synthesize culturally elevated topics, illustrating them with a strong visual identity and editorial product quality.

A fresh format that tickles the curiosity of readers with cultured, always different, multidisciplinary, unconventional, never predictable and, above all, never self-referential contents.

"Inventario does not speak of Foscarini, because we wanted a completely free and therefore credible project in its autonomy", underlines Carlo Urbinati, founder and president of the Marcon company.

“Inventario is the spokesperson for our values, he looks ahead with attentive and curious eyes, with the pleasure of practicing the territories of innovation, as is the spirit of Foscarini. In each new issue I immediately find the spirit that guided us in giving birth and growing this editorial project, which for me is food for thought, with the unexpected associations of ideas that connect projects, works, objects, authors, inviting us to observe reality with true curiosity.

Each release is the result of a long process of imagination, creation and archiving by our director Beppe Finessi and all the talented authors of the editorial staff, who stimulate us to look beyond, simply for the pleasure of doing so". In each issue, the presence of the company is revealed solely in the interpretation, at the opening and closing, of one or more lamp models, by an always different internationally renowned photographer.

“From the beginning, my reference model has been Colors by Benetton, founded in 1991 by Oliviero Toscani strong> and Tibor Kalman”, says Beppe Finessi, “a socio-anthropological and economic magazine that certainly didn't deal with sweaters but talked about the world. Inventory was born as a small challenge, we carry it forward with great freedom, there are no constraints, we only publish what we love, which makes our eyes light up.

In my opinion there is space and need for cultural projects of this kind, entrepreneurs should be stimulated in a different way, with projects less anchored to products, but trying to dream.

A reference model is Olivetti, a large company that for decades has managed to combine profits with culture, education, politics and corporate welfare.

The Italian design system must also be defended and supported through important, ambitious, wide-ranging cultural projects, otherwise it becomes difficult today, with the publishing and paper crisis, to be able to protect the supremacy and the cultural presidium of Italian design”.

Bisazza: the former production site converted into a foundation to support art

In 2012, Bisazza inaugurated the activity of the Foundation with an exhibition dedicated to the British architect John Pawson Bisazza, in Montecchio, in the province of Vicenza, where the mosaic factory founded in 1956 by Renato Bisazza once stood.

The former industrial site houses the foundation, a completely private, non-profit organization open to the public, which, more than anything else, represents the Bisazza family's passion for art.

A magical place, whose genesis can actually be traced back to 1995, the year in which Alessandro Mendini was entrusted with the role of first artistic director of the company.

In addition to the rich permanent collection, with sculptures and works in precious mosaic tiles created by authors such as Mendini, Sottsass, Urquiola, just to name a few, the Foundation hosts traveling exhibitions and installations by internationally renowned artists and designers, produced by Bisazza or from foreign institutions.

The intent of the Foundation is in fact to interact and dialogue with other foundations and museums of design and architecture by creating a network for the presentation of unpublished projects in Italy.

In 2015 the spaces were expanded with the new exhibition area entitled Architecture photography, with shots by masters of photography such as Berenice Abbott, Eugène Atget, Gabriele Basilico, Roland Fischer, Candida Höfer, Julius Shulman and Hiroshi Sugimoto. Finally, in 2019, Love-Dream, Love-Nothing was inaugurated, the first permanent installation in the world by the famous contemporary Japanese photographer Nobuyoshi Araki, curated by Filippo Maggia.

"The Foundation nourishes our daily work, gives us new energy and makes us dream", says Rossella Bisazza, who heads the brand with her brother Piero.

Vitra Design Museum: since 1989 a point of reference for design enthusiasts, and more

In 1989 the Vitra company opened the doors of its Vitra Design Museum, in Weil am Rhein, near Basel , an exhibition space dedicated to design, past and present, investigating its relationship with architecture, art and culture.

In addition to housing an extraordinary collection of some twenty thousand objects, including archives and bequests of architects such as Verner Panton, each year the Vitra Design Museum organizes up to ten exhibitions on topics related to design and architecture, displayed in the main building designed by Frank Gehry, in the Schaudepot of Herzog&deMeuron and in other points of the Vitra Campus.

Design, but not only, because, for the first time, the Vitra museum will investigate the world of gardens in Garden Futures - Designing with nature from March 25 to October 3, an exhibition by the Vitra Design Museum, the Wüstenrot Stiftung and the Nieuwe Instituut of Rotterdam, with scenography by Formafantasma.

An exhibition on the history and future of the modern garden, much more than a simple romantic idyll, but an avant-garde place, an area in which social justice, biodiversity and the field in which a sustainable future can be written can be experienced.

Daniele Lago: “Culture for collective growth”

Daniele Lago, CEO of the family business: “We do business through a cultural approach. We are the sum of the experiences that we are able to get our collaborators to have, the more stimuli we are able to give in terms of training and lateral thoughts concerning contemporary society, the more Lago the better.

Culture makes us richer, in every sense, also in terms of company indicators. In 2008, when we wrote the document The great idea, in fact there was no great idea, but the will to pursue a more humanistic approach to the business world, at the time they thought we were a bit crazy, then when we started recording important numbers too, everyone changed their mind a bit.

We must support Made in Italy with a cultural approach in terms of business.

We ensure that the people who work at Lago are always stimulated to do their job better, to be more and more of engines and less of wagons, but also to become better people. We involve our employees in many ways.

For a year and a half now we have been organizing open factories in the company in which we meet with opinion leaders to understand, all together, how to improve the company in various areas.

On the theme of sustainability, we have created six thematic tables that converge with the UN 2030 agenda, and we have invited experts, such as the environmental engineer who works in the second largest survey studio in the world chemicals related to the environment, the sustainability manager of a large company operating in the banking sector, the professors of the University of Padua, a sustainable product expert of the Milan Polytechnic.

From these meetings, virtuous guidelines emerged that we have already applied in the company, to start presenting our first CSR, Corporate Social Responsibility, in 2025; in parallel we are improving product development from a sustainable perspective, working on the disassembly of products and on the choice of low-impact materials; and, in the future, we will give the possibility to rent Lago furniture, to extend the life of the products even further.

On the occasion of the FuoriSalone, we will present the results of the six thematic tables on sustainability, in an evening open to all, Wednesday 19 April at 6.30 pm inside Casa Lago, because we must all act if we want to that something really changes.

For us it is important that those who work at Lago, even for a few years, become a better person. There are many ways to create culture in the company.

Last Christmas, my siblings Franco and Rosanna served me at the public canteens in Padua, managed by Cucine Economiche Popolari; now together with this extraordinary group of people we have set up a training course for our employees, anyone who wants can volunteer, it is an incredible experience that enriches you, it is more what you receive than what you give.

Furthermore, we collaborate with the Padua prison, together we organized an open factory in the company with a speech on what it means to reintegrate prisoners and give them confidence. What does a design table have to do with prison? It has to do with it, design is not understood only as shaping an object, but it is a tool for social transformation, it is the way to create meanings.

Mixing culture with profit is a panacea for everyone, we are not inventing anything, the Renaissance put man and culture at the centre. Balancing people, the environment and technology, this for me is creating culture in the company, it's not something abstract, it's an approach that makes you work better.

Doing culture allows you to generate meanings, which is something that goes beyond the economic aspect, it is deeper and even more relevant, especially for young people who no longer put salary first, but seek a company to identify with. Stimulating and giving input to collaborators, so that they grow and mature as human beings, is the most extraordinary thing for us. It is a constant work of sowing and building the future”.

MineStudio and the Siamomine magazine: when creative studios make culture

In addition to companies, there are also some studios, such as Park Associati, which we interviewed here, which invest in making culture to create social value for the community, with a view to a renewal of planning and thought.

Another studio that fits well into this review is Mine Studio, a Roman creative agency that in 2020 gives life to Siamomine, an independent magazine cultural research and awareness tool.

Siamomine becomes for Mine Studio a tool to talk about issues close to the agency's activities, transforming them into input for creative work, to be shared with their community.

To be better creatives, you have to be better people. This is, more or less, what they said to each other when they started this adventure.

Siamomine talks about phenomena related to digital culture, such as social media and trends born on the internet, and aspects concerning contemporary work, such as smart working, psychological well-being, new forms of work digital, always starting from a 'generational' point of view.

Siamomine is in fact aimed at a basically young audience, generally under 35, but mostly in their twenties.

Mine Studio with its magazine has collaborated with realities such as Fondazione Romaeuropa, and with the independent publishing house minimum fax it has created the podcast Il lavoro non ti ama. A newsletter also revolves around Siamomine, which is called Dylarama, a collector of suggestions coming from the outside, "everything interesting that we manage to capture on the internet ends there", says the Siamomine team.

The Siamomine magazine was born and grows hand in hand with the path undertaken by Mine Studio in the last year and a half, during which the agency first became a Benefit Company and then at the beginning of 2023 obtained the B Corp Certification.

As a B Corp, Mine is committed to measuring its impact on the environment and society by developing fair and regenerative business models.

By embracing values such as sustainability, transparency and inclusiveness, Siamomine has become a dissemination tool that "we hope will act as a sounding board as much as possible to convey positive messages, but also critical analyzes that stimulate reflection on the issues that are closest to us heart,” concludes the team.