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Switzerland and Italy: two countries that are geographically close but at the same time far apart in terms of economy, history, culture, technique, art and relationships with design. Similarities and differences are the central theme of the Testa e Croce: le convergenze parallele del design/Heads and Tails: parallel convergences of design exhibition. Organised by the ADI Design Museum and Repower and sponsored by the Swiss Embassy and the Swiss Chamber of Commerce in Italy, the exhibition is under the overall curatorship and creative direction of Italo Rota with Alessandro Pedretti curating the Italian section and Riccardo Blumer the Swiss section.

It presents a panorama of ideas, images, creations and products, emerging on two fronts of historical and contemporary design culture. From roots that are similar in terms of nature, demands and processes, objects and representations have been created that express the different identities of the Italian and Swiss cultural, social and technical heritage: objects, images and advertising campaigns that are part of two different expressive DNA.

“In a moment such as the one we are currently experiencing, the courage to develop original critical readings is increasingly important. Parallel convergences is an oxymoron deriving from Italian political memory, an attitude typical of a certain practice which saw declarations of intent converge on the solution of problems while in actual fact the paths remained rigidly parallel and never overlapped. The exhibition intends to dispel this practice in order to help us understand the real convergences and – why not? – the real differences in understanding design”said ADI – Association for Industrial Design President Luciano Galimberti.

In Italian material and visual culture the prime movers are often designers and companies and the product is the end result of cultural research in continuous metamorphosis and development, which produces not only expressive value but also social quality, as can be seen from the great names of design over the last hundred years, furniture and furnishing classics, unusual and surprising objects, designer graphics, in short, the entire international relationship of companies with designers from all over the world involving a vast panorama of relationships rather than images. 

In products resulting from Swiss ingenuity, transformed through use into standard models, style is not related to aesthetics, but to an ethical concept of production, linked to durable materials that are typical of the country – wood and aluminium – and to precise instruments such as advertising graphics and anonymous objects that acquire the value of symbols. Max Bill, Sigfried Giedion, the Victorinox Swiss Army knife, clocks and watches, Toblerone, Caran d’Ache pencils and the Helvetica font all go to make up a panorama based around the idea of ​​timeless quality.

As curator Italo Rota says, “it is a comparison of two separate entities, allowing us to discover two parallel worlds from which we can take ideas and objects, create new interiors and fill our backpacks; in the near future we will probably be a little less Italian and a little less Swiss but the objects will always reveal their distant and mysterious origins.”

At the heart of the exhibition a reproduction of the Cervino – Matterhorn marks the north-south axis of the two worlds and alludes to the different perception of design from the two points of view of the landscape, yet from a sustainable point of view the mountains beyond the border become common territory to be safeguarded and protected. The exhibition is completed by two thematic islands, Young Italian designers curated by Erica Petrillo, and Young Swiss designers, curated by Laure Gremion, which illustrate the panorama of contemporary design in the two countries.

“Research and the promotion of design culture have always been part of Repower’s DNA, thanks to the company’s twin soul, strongly linked to Switzerland where it was founded in 1904 and Italy, where this year we are celebrating 20 years of activity” comments  Fabio Bocchiola, CEO of Repower Italia and President of the Swiss Chamber of Commerce in Italy. “We suggested this project to the ADI Museum because it is the institution that more than any other in Italy has been able to preserve and popularise design culture over and above individual objects. The enthusiasm with which this idea was greeted represented important confirmation for a company whose business remains tied to one of the most intangible assets imaginable: energy. Heads and Tails turns the spotlight firmly onto Italian and Swiss excellence, giving visitors the opportunity to compare two cultures that are apparently very distant but which share common roots, and which both have considerable visual and expressive impact as well as being interpreters of the creative spirit with which Repower is linked in particular. They are two sides of the same coin, two points of view of nature, objects and design that we are sure will enrich the visitor.”

Since its inauguration, Repower has been the main partner of the ADI Design Museum, to which it has donated E-LOUNGE, the intelligent design bench designed for e-bikes, available to visitors and cyclists in the main courtyard just outside the entrance to the Museum. The partnership between Repower and the ADI Design Museum is a natural consequence of the shared path linked to the values ​​of sustainability, innovation and attention to design, cornerstones of the Group’s philosophy and in particular of the Italian branch led by CEO Fabio Bocchiola.