AEC Illuminazione

Made in Italy 4.0

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A supplement to the July-August issue of Domus presents the past, present and future of one of the companies that symbolize the new course of Italian manufacturing. One that innovates and becomes a global player. Without losing its ties with the community and with an emphasis on architecture, also as a communication asset

Far too often people speak out of line about SME, the famous “small and medium enterprises” that make up Italy’s nervous system and muscle.
There is often too little awareness of the personal and industrial dynamics that lie beneath the surface. It is the intuition of the businesspeople behind these enterprises that have allowed them to become global representations of Italian quality. Intuition that can be found throughout the country, but which is often concentrated in those districts that, for reasons only partly understood, have become a breeding ground of creativity.

This is the case for the Casentino, an area that has played a historical role since ancient times, and which expresses a very particular spirit. It is a blend of culture and community, of creativity and practicality that in the North would be called “polytechnic knowledge” but which here is the evolution of medieval workshops. These were the origin of Western capitalism, in which savoir-faire was craftsmanship, not art. The arts were used to create solutions for which beauty and elegance were, and still are, seen more as economic and practical than philosophical and immaterial values. 

AEC, the public lighting company founded by Cino Cini in 1957 and still run by the family, is one of these virtuous cases.
We, at Domus, are more than happy to present it in a supplement to the July-August issue that traces the history of the firm and its evolution from a small manufacture to a global player.

Founded in Subbiano, AEC moved to the industrial zone in the 90s, when it began to emerge in its present form; a European technological company that understood the importance of design way before the giants of the sector. Not only the design of lighting and infrastructure, but design seen as an ecosystem, a point of creativity. This can be seen in the group’s latest building, the Innovation Technological Center, designed by the firm SBGA Blengini Ghirardelli in 2019 to house the R&D division. Instruments that look like they belong to NASA rather than a master lighting manufacturer.

AEC’s is not merely a story of success, but a model that explains the intrinsic meaning of Made in Italy. That form of capitalism where family, sense of community and investment in research and technology combine and flourish through design. A story to reflect on and a model to study, for those who still see SME as strange and abstract entities.
Walter Mariotti

In the Made in Italy 4.0 supplement, available at newsstands along with issue 1059 July-August, Domus presents AEC's past, present and near future with a special focus on the Innovation Technological Center, the latest expansion of the Subbiano headquarters.
Designed by SBGA Blengini Ghirardelli of Milan, it was expressly conceived to house the machinery and laboratories that make AEC one of the standard bearers of the new generation of Italian industry, with the highest technological content, capable of maximising efficiency along the entire value chain and providing a concrete and global outlet for traditional Italian creativity. 
The in-depth coverage in the
Made in Italy 4.0 supplement, in true Domus style, also includes a report on the Focchi Group, the company that built the metal framework and cladding of the Innovation Technological Center; on Cosentino, the Spanish giant that supplied the Dekton slabs for the facades; and on SBGA Blengini Ghirardelli, a studio run, in Milan, by three young architects that share past experiences in renowned firms and are already capable of winning major international tenders such as the one for the European Space Agency campus in the Netherlands.

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