Expo 2015 asks key questions about life on our planet: how can we use available resources to feed a growing world population in a balanced and sustainable way?
Italy will contribute with its youngest, most vital forces, the sons and daughters of an expertise that dates back thousands of years, of a culture that has made our country a perennial world leader in the food and sustainability sectors.
The metaphor chosen to portray Italy at EXPO 2015 is the plant nursery: living space, mother earth, a place where expert hands nurse and protect the “seeds” of our future.
The entire Pavilion is a great allegorical journey whose main metaphor is the Tree of Life.
The seeds, the finest Italian products showcased at the Cardo and Palazzo Italia, the tree’s roots sinking into the Pavilion’s vibrant topsoil, and finally the tree itself, whose leafy branches “give back” our finest fruit to EXPO and the entire world.
The following guidelines were used to design the visitor experience at the Pavilion:
- The relationship with the visitor: the visit aims to “engage and captivate” rather than “explain and describe”.
- The presentation of content: the approach chosen aims to achieve a “memorable and stirring” experience rather than fulfilling an “educational and compilation” function.
- The approach to the main themes of EXPO2015: the themes were developed with the goal of “stimulating thought” rather than “giving answers”.
The Cardo is a paved avenue, 35 meters wide and 325 meters long, that will host a multitude of exhibitive and institutional activities showcasing Italy’s variety and wealth, and the many identities of its regions, landscapes, cultures, and products, including the producers and areas of origin of the cornerstones of the Mediterranean diet.
Buildings interspersed with squares create a series of filled and empty spaces that make for a harmonious, lively, and interesting ensemble. Along its perimeter and at its centre is a three-dimensional re-interpretation of the Grand Tour, a fundamental step in the education of European intellectuals in centuries past.
Our interpretation of the journey through the Pavilion takes form through a helicoidal installation that traverses the entire Cardo and unites its various buildings: a monumental yet light structure brought to life by a dedicated app that will interact with visitors and guide them along the journey. The itinerary along the Cardo will also feature six stations designed by Dante Ferretti: six mosaics, each with the iconic ingredients of an Italian recipe. At the end of the journey awaits a traditional Italian dish, deconstructed and re-interpreted by one of the masters of Italian cinema.
The Cardo will also feature an enormous and highly striking statue depicting a human mouth: it foreshadows the theme of the “food of our wishes”, a concept chosen to delve into the relationship between food, nutrition, health, and well-being. This installation/itinerary was designed by the Museum of Science and Technology in Milan in collaboration with Confindustria.
Palazzo Italia’s exhibitions were created and designed around the four conceptual planes that represent Italy’s four strengths:
These are the answers and the food for thought that the Italian Pavilion will have regarding Expo’s main themes. The four strengths were identified as part of a project that involved representatives from Italy’s regions with the support of Professor De Rita, a sociologist, and Professor Bonomi, who studies the anthropological dynamics of local development.
On the ground floor, Italian contemporary art greets the visitors and provides food for thought. Art embodies the relationship between humans, food, and the land, through the work of a young, successful Italian artist. It is an icon and a metaphor to prepare the visitor for the best way to enjoy the contents of Palazzo Italia: stirring, symbolic, and memorable.
The ground floor is also where Expo and the rest of Italy are linked together. Monitors with live video and audio feeds from three of Italy’s best-known markets – La Vucciria in Palermo, Rialto in Venice, and Campo de’ Fiori in Rome – create a bridge both real and metaphorical between the Pavilion and the country as a whole.
Neighbourhood markets are a space where Italy’s outstanding food products can gain visibility, but they are also places of exchange and human contact, where for centuries the local community has gathered around food to share experiences and knowledge and to strengthen social and economic bonds. They are dynamic, vibrant, and ever-changing spaces, veritable “energy hubs”. They are powerful symbols that embody the concept of “feeding the planet, energy for life”.
The power of “savoir-faire”
“Savoir-faire” is that peculiarly human ability to change the landscape in a loving and sustainable manner in order to make it productive.
A series of sculptures depicting men and women make up a sort of “tableau vivant”: sounds and images are projected onto the figures and bring the sculptures to life, telling tales of ingenuity, creativity, and the ability to “get things done”.
“The power of beauty – energy for life”
The itinerary begins with an awareness-raising experience: the distress chamber and the news wall (newscasts from around the world recounting environmental emergencies) induce psycho-physical stress and bluntly invite us to ponder the state of our planet.
The first part of the visitors’ itinerary serves to emphasize the emotional impact of the halls dedicated to the “Power of beauty”.
The beauty of landscapes and architecture as the vital, propulsive energy of the human soul. A journey through bird’s eye and ultra-wide-angle views of Italian natural and architectural landscapes (both interiors and exteriors), and a feast for the eyes that will produce a rush of pleasure in all visitors.
The “Beauty, energy for life” itinerary ends with a provocation…
“The world without Italy”
Through a large relief map of a Mediterranean where the Italian boot is missing, the installation invites visitors to ponder what the world would be like without Italy.
This narrative artifice aims to encourage visitors to think about Italy’s role, which they are further stimulated to do through a series of interviews with globally-renowned cultural and academic leaders.
Experiencing the market with all our senses
The second floor ends with a “journey in the dark”, a “sightless” itinerary to experience markets with our other four senses.
At the end of the “sightless” itinerary, designed in collaboration with the Milan Institute for the Blind, visitors will re-gain their sight to admire Renato Gattuso’s La Vuccirìa, a painting that is both the inspiration for and a symbol of the journey they have just completed.
“The power of the future”
“Future seeding”: Italian biodiversity. This is where Italian regions and other territories will plant a native seed to create a garden of Italy’s biodiversity.
Behind each seed is a story that blends ancient culture and modern knowledge.
“The power of limits”
The human ability to overcome bounds and constraints imposed by circumstances beyond our control.
Limits as an opportunity to bring human creativity and ingenuity to bear. The stories, which follow a hero (protagonist) / anti-hero (limit) template, are told through holograms, objects, and short video clips. The dominating presence of a replica of the Tree of Life at the centre of the room, its leafy branches touching the protagonists of the stories, symbolizes the metaphor at the heart of the entire Pavilion itinerary, and completes the Italian answer to the questions posed by EXPO 2015
The journey through the Italian Plant Nursery, which immerses the visitor in the roots and topsoil of Italian excellence, concludes with a vertical, symbolic gesture: the Tree of Life.
Placed at the centre of the lake, the tree is both a global and Italian icon: it is present in many cultures and in contemporary film imagery and it is inspired by the floor of Piazza del Campidoglio as designed by Michelangelo.
This iconic structure is deeply rooted in the Pavilion’s fertile soil, and symbolically offers its seeds and fruit to Italy and the entire world.
This interactive, steel-and-wood structure, over 30 meters high, lights up as the hours go by in a riot of colours, and will become the home for many of the events in the Pavilion’s extensive schedule.
A clear and coherent vision for all exhibits, and an itinerary that will arouse pride and sense of belonging in Italian visitors, and a newfound curiosity in international ones.