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  • Writer's pictureJohn Favaro

Salini-Impregilo at Triennale Design Museum - how to tell a company through artful thinking

Updated: May 10, 2018

In front of me the view of the Panama Canal opens up. The tip of the ship is moving and proceeds towards the narrow passage that divides two worlds from each other. I can feel how the ship enters the canal, climbs step by step and after a while finds itself on the opposite side of the path. The experience has an immersive character that involves my whole body. Through this "physical" experience I realize for the first time how massive the work to widen the channel in Panama must have been.

The understanding of this came to me through an immersive video installation set up at the entrance of the exhibition ‘Beyond, Delivering the Future for the past 110 years’ that took place in fall 2016 in the spaces of Triennale Design Museum in Milano, Italy. The show presented some of the monumental construction works realized during the last century by the Italian company Salini-Impregilo, a leading global player in the construction of large, complex civil infrastructure (railways, metro systems, bridges, civil and industrial buildings and airports). This year Salini-Impregilo continued the exhibition activity in Triennale Design Museum, also this time showing the aesthetics of their construction work in a show that opened on the 1st of May.

Why is it worth talking about these shows?

Because they fall in the marvellous space of what I like to call “artful thinking and business communication”.

We are in this case not talking about an art exhibition, but with the help of the artistic discipline called curatorship – i.e. the physical and conceptual staging of an exhibition – we can perceive the story, the complex identity, and the intangible value of a company in its various phases of transformation.

In one of the rooms of the first show Beyond, the path of Salini-Impregilo, rich in changes, in various moments of its 120-year history are visualized on a beautiful timeline. The spectators can see a history of acquisitions and mergers as well as more evident activities related to monumental construction works.

As grafts in a tree, every change in the corporate perimeter also transforms the identity of the company, that identity with which the people who belong to the organization identify themselves (or sometimes do not identify themselves, especially in moments of radical change). Seeing all this in relation to some significant events of the last century: the rise to power of J.F. Kennedy, the landing of the first man on the moon, etc. helps us to reflect on the complexity of this corporate body both as a social context and as a company that evolves in the global world. The images that we see help us make temporary, conceptual, cultural and often unexpected associations, to which we would arrive with great difficulty with only rational and verbal reasoning.

Making it visible allows us to see the different variables of which the picture is composed (in this case the history of a company) in a single glance. In only one gaze we understand:

- quantity: how many elements (resources, people) make up the subject / the organism / the context

- measure: how big the individual elements facing each other are

- pattern: the relationship between the elements we are facing

- movement: the evolution of the situation

- context = time and place: where and when the situation happens

The second show 'Cyclopica' based on an archive of 1.200.000 photos and 600 different videos from the collections of Salini-Impregilo presents us beautiful animations, immersive installations and aesthetically appealing photos of the company’s construction work.

The curatorship allows the viewer to "feel" and "live" the often monumental nature of the work of the company rather than thinking about it only in rational terms. Moreover, the animations and the photos of the show have most of the time an artistic character rather than a documentary style. A masterfully constructed visual representation creates an emotional link between the viewer and the represented object. For a company this is the basis for creating brand equity.

Avant-garde companies such as Salini-Impregilo have understood that in the eyes of the market and possible customers a clear visual representation of the intangible business resources help to make the brand equity stronger and consequently to create a greater internal commitment towards daily operations and to generate more profit from company activities.

Beyond, Delivering the Future for the past 110 years and Cyclopica on-line:


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