Interviews - Commissariato Italiano Esposizione Universale di Shanghai 2010

Giancarlo Basili
Giancarlo Basili

Interview to Giancarlo Basili, designer of the fitting for the Italian Pavilion of the Shanghai World Expo 2010.

Dr. Basili, we walk along the Italian Pavilion interiors. Where did you get the inspiration for the exhibition path?
The general idea of the exhibition comes from the choice to lead the visitor not with a verbal and didactic language, but visual and sensorial one.
Along with the Milan Triennale we designed this course which starts from the Palladian proscenium theater (scale 1:2), architectural work that is a Unesco World Heritage Site, in relation with the large installation on the wall bearing the inscription "City of 'man, live the Italian way" in thirty-six languages, designed as a great bas-relief, the overlap of the different typographical characters shapes the FU ideogram, happiness in Chinese.
The visual concept is just that, traversing this great architecture leads us to a room on the relationship between past and present technological innovation (Isotta Fraschini, Aprilia, Mast, Vibram) with the modern Italian art (Burri, Consagra , Fontana, Capogrossi).

Impressive and symbolic installations strike the visitor and make him feel immediately part of a way to "live the Italian way”, is it correct?
Yes, our first idea was just to catch the eye of the visitor through the crossing of these installations, a concept that has been developed naturally from the architectural space designed by Giampaolo Imbrighi. I must say that my profession appears clear in this path as I’m a film and theatrical designer. The creative freedom that was given to me allowed me to tell Italy through feelings, eyes and wonder, avoiding the traditional exhibition methods which are used in such events. The most explicit example of this idea can be found in the central court: the symphony orchestra in the wall that we suddenly face, the concept design of the dome of Santa Maria del Fiore (scale 1:5) that we are experiencing, the 19 meters high reproduction mosaic of a De Chirico square are installations that have the intent to surprise and amaze the audience by mixing the various arts.
As a series of film frames capture our attention and lead us to dream, so these installations show us the different artistic languages of the Italian tradition, mixed together. The mannequins out of scale four meters high by four major clothing designers (Versace, Prada, Ermenegildo Zegna and Dolce and Gabbana) stand on the mosaic of De Chirico becoming an integral part of his work.

Not only movies, however, but also a spectacular tribute to another pillar of our culture: food.

Of course, in a seamless continuum between art and good food, which is, art as well. Through the orchestra (a tribute to Fellini's "prova d’Orchestra"), we come into the room "A bite of Italy", dedicated to the world of food. Here emerges from the ground a great ancient olive tree, as if breaking through the floor. On the ceiling, overturning a field of wheat and poppies.
The installation was designed so as to disorient the viewer, who is suddenly faced with the ephemeral and elusive image with which we wanted to represent the Italian countryside. The 80,000 ears and 20,000 poppies dominate two great transparent supports which host, as if they were precious objects, hundreds of types of wine and pasta.

From food, excellent example of "craft" of our country, to the real room dedicated to the skills of “doing”. What happens here?
In the room, "The Making of" we face a real film set, housed inside a transparent reliquary (a sort of "aquarium"), which houses a space-craft workshop, where will turn fifteen Italian excellences (Craft footwear, restoration, violin making, pastry, etc.).. Around the “aquarium” there are eight significant objects of our design: the "Bow" chair, one of Foggini chandelier, a Rossi library, a Trumeau Fornasetti, the sofa michettas by Gaetano Pesce, the vase "Flow" Hadid, the 'Horm'column, the 'Fildefer "Castellani.
Next we find the space devoted to architecture which displays six tapestries of the Paliotti, the model of the Teatro Massimo of Palermo, the Pantheon and two paintings by Canaletto. On the wall we have the Italian landscape, told by photographers Vincenzo Castella, Giovanni Chiaramonte, Stefano Graziani, Paolo Rosselli and Joan Silva.

The Pavilion is focusing not only on the more traditional image attributed to Italy, but also on its excellence in modern productivity and enterprise. How?
A whole area, the "I-tech"room, is dedicated to this. This is a great space that illustrates the technological innovation in industry, exposing objects as if they were works of art: the chairs by Cassina, Kartell and Magis hang over the visitors as a big tree-sculpture. ??Looking up we see the image on the ceiling that mimics a satellite photo of Italy, an image of 500sqm overlooking all the installations in this room. The lamps of Artemide, Flos and FontanaArte, are based on a steel frame that recalls the petals of a flower. To illustrate the Mose project about the system of protections in the lagoon of Venice I chose to rebuild one of the great hinge-connectors, which, exposed on a light base, becomes a large sculptural work, an explanatory video explains the complexity of the project engineering. Besides these products are Brembo, Piaggio, Comau, Dainese, Pirelli, Ferrari.

In short, a real journey through the beauty and culture of our country ...
Yes ... just like a movie.