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05.10.2020 | fondazione zegna

Casa Zegna, the archive and the future between tradition and transformation

When Casa Zegna was inaugurated in July 2007, much of what is now Zegna Group’s archive-museum facility was already defined and programmed. It’s important to have clear ideas for initiatives like this, and that clarity always yields good results. But over the years the essence of Casa Zegna has also evolved in unexpected directions and with surprising intensity. It’s become rather hard to define in fact, for definitions often tend towards the banal and simplistic.

Casa Zegna contains the historical archives and cultural center of the entire Zegna Group. An integral part of Fondazione Zegna, Casa Zegna operates in and for Trivero, the Biella area and the world. Since 2007, it has been truly open, in that it has always received and shared. It has always avoided being self-referential and stayed focused on community.

Firstly the Group’s internal community but then, even more so, the external one, involving our Trivero and Biella “neighbors” and major cultural stakeholders. Casa Zegna has always reasoned in “territorial” terms but it’s the scale of the territory that may change from time to time.

It has remained within the bounds of the Ermenegildo Zegna Wool Mill, in the 1930s building that used to be the family’s home. Casa Zegna is still an extraordinary blend of history and experiences, but at the same time a multi-functional space that’s always active, a forge of new ideas, where tradition merges with transformation. Casa Zegna is much else besides. Over the years it has become a powerful point of reference for the communication activities and creativity of Zegna Group and Fondazione Zegna.

Casa Zegna has continually innovated and transformed itself, drawing inspiration from a corporate environment equally capable of reconfiguring itself, and inspiring others in the process. The strength of this cultural center in Trivero lies in its dynamism, while its most endearing feature is its flexibility. Its temporary exhibitions – one or two a year – have always left their mark on the environment that hosted or organized them. And its permanent sections too have been updated, revisited and transformed, albeit in a different timeframe. Everything in Casa Zegna is solid, but nothing is static.

While expertise acquired, knowledge accumulated and professionalism developed are all solid, modes of use, opportunities for re-elaboration and possibilities of interaction have not been static. Casa Zegna is constantly planning and re-planning itself, not as an exercise in style but to stay abreast of the Zegna “world” whose history it projects into the future.

It is in this sense that Casa Zegna performs an important educational function in Zegna Group and works at the same time with organizations like FAI and various educational institutions.

Though difficult at times because things happen fast, maintaining and improving access to archives to exploit more and more of their potential is our job. Even in complicated times like these.

Yet it’s not the kilometers of paper archives or the thousands of samples or the hundreds of thousands of images that constitute the real heritage that Casa Zegna conserves. The “objects” it conserves are the noble raw materials of an important culture factory whose identity and mission are “fabrication”.

Casa Zegna’s true worth lies in its original “concept” (a fact we become more aware of every day), its tendency to generate and maintain useful network systems. Zegna Group is a huge network and Casa Zegna is a node in that network. With the same set of values, Casa Zegna creates and develops relations with its “neighbors”, however close or distant they are.

To do all this, two things count for more than all the rest: people and style. Casa Zegna has invested in and then capitalized on people who know their stuff. The people who run Casa Zegna were professionally “born and bred” in and with it and devote themselves to it with all their skill and passion.

This virtuous condition of conscious and qualified dedication is visible to anyone who goes on one of its guided tours or educational workshops or does some research here. Besides, those who run Casa Zegna are in a position to learn constantly on many different fronts, which is quite something these days.

And then there’s style. The language, the tone of voice. The authoritativeness that’s not tiresome, the dissemination of knowledge that’s not boring. Elegance but without rigidity. Here too, Casa Zegna has changed more than once and will change again as it tries to transmit its model but also adapt to the moment, to continue performing its task.

Casa Zegna is in Trivero but also on the web and social channels. It’s there for you. Discover it, if you’re not already a visitor or follower. You’ll find it interesting and stimulating, always easily recognizable but always a bit different.