[SPONSORED] iGuzzini lights up Milan from Da Vinci to the Expo, illuminating the past and future
Looking back across the span of the 20th century, Italy stands without rival for its capacity to blend the universal principles of good design with a hunger for technological innovation. Other countries made their contributions at various points, of course, but no other nation can match this consistent ability to set the old and the new in so rich a dialogue. It’s impossible to imagine that this enduring skill was not a factor in the decision to award Milan the prize of hosting Expo 2015. It is worth noting, however, that this is not the first time the city has been responsible for delivering an event of this kind.
The World Expo of 1906 established Italy’s credentials early on as the locus of a technical revolution. But while the nation was at that time celebrating triumphs in the area of railway engineering - the recently completed 18km Alpine tunnel, the Simplon Pass, and the Paris to Milan line - it clearly finds itself in a different world today. An intervening century of progress in material science and heavy engineering allows us to create structures once unimaginable, as even a short walk along the Expo’s main strip will attest, but the truth is that the finest spatial experiences rely on crafting a far more ethereal material - light.
Founded in 1959, iGuzzini today remains the leading force in the Italian lighting sector, as well as its greatest champion. It stands as no surprise, therefore, that the company was the obvious choice for so many architects and designers in the specification of their pavilions for Expo 2015. Foster + Partners’ sand dune-inspired creation for the United Arab Emirates, for example, relies on breakthroughs in power efficiency made in recent decades by iGuzzini to deliver its ambitious sustainability goals.
Daniel Libeskind also turned to the lighting company’s highly adaptable products to achieve the visual drama of his pavilion for Vanke - China’s largest development company. The shifting iridescence of the glazed ceramic tiles that cover the design’s faceted exterior prepare visitors for the sensory dynamism of the exhibition by Ralph Appelbaum inside. Exploring the social role of food in China, the exhibition boasts a constellation of 200 television screens mounted within a matrix of bamboo scaffolding and relies upon iGuzzini’s diverse range to execute its immersive experience.
Though the company’s advanced products can seemingly be found at every turn across the Expo’s 500-acre site, including its Palazzo Italia centrepiece, visitors to Milan also stand to benefit from its innovations away from the fair. iGuzzini recently adopted The Last Supper painting, one of Leonardo da Vinci’s most celebrated works, and has designed a new lighting system integrating the latest generation luminaires.
The masterpiece is one of a number included in the Light is Back journey around Milan curated by iGuzzini and is available to download as an app for iOS and Android. The tour takes in a collection of historic and modern sites around the city where the company has played a role in elevating light as the protagonist of social innovation and public space. It’s clear then that Italy today, like Leonardo, continues to deserve celebration as a master of both art and science. Consequently, it’s hard to imagine a company better suited than iGuzzini to represent these national triumphs new and old.