There’s no Italy without a thorn
There’s no Italy without a thorn, says the drawing by Alessandro Mendini. “A rose is a rose is a rose” goes a famous line by Gertrude Stein, as popular as it is enigmatic. The rose/Italy to which this special section is dedicated aims to reflect the call of this brilliant American poetess to see things for what they are. It is a kind of enunciation of the law of identity to which Mendini has added the realistic touch of a heartfelt but realistic analysis. Gertrude Stein composed her line in 1913 for the poem Sacred Emily. Two years before, in a speech held in 1911 for an audience of suffragettes in Cleveland, the feminist leader Rose Scheiderman declared, “The woman worker needs bread, but she needs roses too.” The admonishment that beauty is a right and an obligation is something that our country particularly should never forget, even when the thorns increase in size, as they did during the tragic events of the recent earthquakes. The idea for this special section comes from Domus’s publisher, Giovanna Mazzocchi, who wishes to pay tribute to what the magazine’s original editor-in-chief Gio Ponti liked to call “the pride of Italian work”. Her proposal was taken up promptly, because never before has Italy needed more consolidation of its vocation toward excellence. The country must practice the reinforcement of design to transform its past into a living future. In 1965, Giulio Carlo Argan published a theoretic manifesto of this need, titled Progetto e Destino (“Design and Destiny”). To design in order to not need designing means opposing destiny as a fatality through the reasoned invention of the future. “We design against the pressure of an unchangeable past,” writes Argan, “So that its strength becomes a push and not weight; a sense of responsibility and not guilt.” Seemingly forgotten words, but perhaps they just need to be pronounced again. That is what this section aims to do by showing the capacity of our architects, artists, designers and critics: to configure new landscapes in which the sense of beauty is married to justness of action; to overcome the crisis and not allow ourselves to be conditioned by fear; to promote the living memory of local territories; to see tradition as a stimulus and not a limitation; beauty as an aspiration and not a deterrent. These are the central themes of the many stories gathered within these pages, all of whose outcome is a testimony to Italian pride.