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PERCORSI IN CERAMICA 22

It was only at the beginning of the XIX century that Luke Howard’s contribution allowed to identify and give a name to clouds. The important breakthrough marked the passage from a basically philosophical approach to the modern science of the atmosphere and, as experts maintain, it is closely related to the human aspiration to give order to chaos of immediate experience, from myth to poetry, from art to rational knowledge, from the idea of ability to its translation to something tangible.

Issue n. 22 of “Percorsi in ceramica” is basically about the above topic. It is about a cloud erected to interrupt the thin horizon line in the Reggio Emilia countryside, along the new Strada Pedemontana, right at the level of Casalgrande Padana’s production facility. Like any other clouds, this one, too has its morphogenesis, it has a history of its own and also symbolizes a story. It has a shape but it evokes an infinite number of images.

This is the first workever made by the Japanese architect Kengo Kuma in Italy, and it was donated to the collective good thanks to an agreement between Casalgrande Padana and the Municipal Authority of Casalgrande. This is the product of an idea, the result of a will to celebrate the proactive story and the ties, which are not only material, but also humane and social, that were spun around the company over time and that grew along the fifty years the company has been operating as Casalgrande Padana. To quote Franco Manfredini in the pages of this issue: “the company wanted to celebrate and keep consistency with the values it always found inspiration in, by means of a number of public initiatives that climaxed in the creation of a symbolic monument; the monument is not only there to highlight our success, but rather to stand for the creative and entrepreneurial spirit of an entire production cluster, a true case of excellence within the Italian scene, and a world leader in terms of quality and innovation”.

We are well aware of the importance of such a patron, says Kengo Kuma: “We took on the challenge as we thought of transforming ceramic tiles into an architectural component, thus avoiding the conventional use as a cladding element; we worked in close collaboration with the Casalgrande Padana team, understanding how to arrange tiles and organize them into unprecedented shapes. In our architecture we take inspiration from the principles of anti-dimension and anti-volume, though for such an important location and project, we wanted to experiment with the relationship between the above concepts and dynamic principles such as time, movement and sequential perception”.

Rich in images and direct impressions, this issue of “Percorsi in ceramica” closes with the presentation of a marvellous volume “Terra e Fuoco”, by the art critic Sandro Parmeggiani, published by Skira. The authentic and fascinating tale about the places and people that make possible, with their daily work, for Casalgrande Padana to succeed, is narrated through the vision of three unparalleled masters of photography, namely, Michael Kenna, Ferdinando Scianna and Franco Fontana. The three were called upon giving a free testimony to the birth of a tile in the raw material quarries, all the way to the mysterious industrial manufacture processes.

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