A palette of delicate colours that recall the Sixties when Ideal Standard pioneered the introduction of an innovative range of shades for its sanitary ware.
On the one hand, there is the history of design, while on the other a technical expertise in the processing of ceramics recognized throughout the world. A laboratory of ideas, Ideal Standard has been working in the search for beauty combined with the highest degree of functionality
1965. Irony and a touch of irreverence in the installation created in Ideal Starndard’s Expressions Room. Designed by Cesare Casati and Enzo Hybsch, two young architects called by Gio Ponti, who was the company's Art Director at that time.
Getting in touch with different worlds, understanding their deep social and cultural roots, and relating them to each other is what we now call connection. Connecting not only requires dialogue, but also a continuous change of perspective, an update of the objectives and goals to be achieved. If organized well it certainly helps to evolve, it aims at progress. Ideal Standard knows this formula perfectly well: Together for better - a statement launched in 2019 - is actually a principle that has always been guiding this multinational corporation. Concentrating a set of different thoughts, traditions and cultures makes it a flexible modern company, capable of intercepting new needs by responding more quickly to them. In this multifaceted identity, what does it mean to work for Ideal Standard in Italy? "Having a lot of responsibility with respect to an important past" is the unanimous response from the Milan based headquarters.
“Being aware of working for a brand where the drive to improve and raise the innovative and qualitative standard continues to be tangible”. One could say that Ideal Standard has two souls: on the one hand, the aesthetics, the design, the softer part of the product, while on the other, one has to consider the technical world consisting of building sites, functional installation systems, for the everyday work. "In Italy there is a strong and deeply rooted creative drive." explains Roberto Palomba of Serafini Palomba Associati, Chief Design "Officer of the brand. “The design hub is here. If we think of Gio Ponti and his work to modernize Italian society in the post-war years, we can understand where our current work stems from. The social analysis, the democratization of prices operated by Ponti have allowed the company to evolve both in technical skills and in economic growth. The historical projects are the basis of our work today. In some ways, Italy is the locomotive of certain values".
The partnership with Palomba Serafini Associati studio is the most recent collaboration with the protagonists of contemporary design. They see to the development of Atelier Collections and the care of the brand image. In the drawing, a sketch of the Conca washbasin.
years since the foundation of Ideal (1909)
years since the birth of Ideal Standard: fusion of Ideal and Standard (1948)
uninterrupted years of collaboration with Gio Ponti (1953-1964)
points of sales in Italy
Gold Compass awards: 1979 Linda by Achille Castiglioni 1998 Fiorile by Enzo Mari
Design Masters who worked with IS
years of collaboration with Roberto Palomba of Palomba Serafini Associati, Chief Design Office
Roberto Palomba, Chief Design Officer of the company since 2018.
It is an artisanal environment, a symbolic atelier made of vibrant hands and minds in constant confrontation, what the Americans found when they arrived in the Bel Paese at the beginning of the twentieth century. Let us look back on the company’s story that began on April 20, 1909 when the Standard Sanitary Manufacturing Corporation set up the Società Nazionale dei Radiatori in Milan. It was in 1929 when the so called “white factory” for the production of sanitary ware in Vitreous China was inaugurated, a revolutionary material for its aesthetic and functional qualities and, in 1948, when the two industrial hubs merged and gave life to Ideal Standard. The idea of a bathroom exported by the Americans would make its 1953 meeting a memorable event, the same year when Gio Ponti was Art Director of the company. "A man" as in 1954 wrote Daria Guarnati, editor of Aria d’Italia, the famous magazine directed by Ponti, "who works hard; who writes, draws, builds, travels and loves life; who does not belong to any school but is only committed to the on-going development of his efforts; a man who lives and works in the happy understanding of his time and is part of it, and is grateful for life”.
The artisanal attention to detail makes the production unique. Above. The drying phase of the products before their glazing. Under. A fascinating detail of the glaze preparation.
Shapes taking shape. The transformation of the ceramic that from raw becomes sculptural is extremely fascinating.
In short, that enlightened architect always on the move, who was contributing to the transformation of post-war Italian society, and who would soon design the Pirellone, conceived the Compasso d'oro award and had already set up Domus and Stile, avant-garde magazines on modern living and design, built dozens of villas and hotels around the world. For Ideal Standard he designed Zeta, a collection of coordinated bathroom fixtures with a simple but cutting-edge design that brought new momentum to the most hidden environment of the house.
This is also confirmed by the advertising campaigns of the time defined by primary colours and signs taken from works of art signed by avant-garde creative masters such as Pino Tovaglia, Fritz Fricker, Ezio Bonini and Enrico Ciuti, to name a few. The new was not scary, as well as research, experimentation, avant-garde art movements. Milan, and the whole country, was like a locomotive, open to confrontation and encounter.
In these crucial years for the change in lifestyle and consumption, where everyone was eager to explore new creative paths, two cultural projects promoted by Ideal Standard were also launched: the quarterly dedicated to the "chronicles of the civilization of well-being" was released in 1959 - among the personalities who published their articles were Guido Ballo (initially for the art, then for the design section), Gillo Dorfles (design), Agnoldomenico Pica (architecture), journalists like Giorgio Bocca, Piero Ottone, sociologists like Francesco Alberoni. Enrico Ciuti, editorial consultant and designer of the company, is the author of the graphic covers -, and in November 1963 he inaugurated the Sala Espressioni Ideal Standard, a project curated by Gio Ponti, who organized commercial and art exhibitions showing foresight and a strong flair to intercept new trends. Among others, Enzo Mari, Bruno Munari, Achille Castiglioni, Piero Fornasetti, Michelangelo Pistoletto would exhibit.
Ideal Standard solutions have been chosen to furnish the building with clear and rational lines, interpreting an eco-sustainable lifestyle attentive to waste. In the bathroom: Ipalyss washbasins, Tesi suspended sanitary ware, Ceraline mixers, Connect 2 shower cubicles.
The Cesena-based Shell project, by Studio Piraccini + Potente Architettura, has been made out of standard Passivhaus and is able to ensure heating thanks to passive energy sources.
Today as in the past, the geometric structures of the architecture and the cleanliness of the design help to simplify the shapes to create customized environments
Some of them would also be involved in designing new sanitaryware collections. The ability to synthesize thoughts in quality projects is the great legacy collected from the past. "The simplicity and purity of the forms are the basis of the Ideal Standard project," says Roberto Palomba. "The geometric structures of the architecture, the abstract art, the pureness of the design" he continues, "express
the same functional and aesthetic values that underlie Villa Katsura in Kyoto, Scandinavian.design or Shaker furniture". Simplifying the shapes to create stages to customize; creating an innovative colour range where, alongside the inevitable porcelain white, matte black, pale pink and sage green stand out; studying cutting-edge technology capable of reducing water waste: these are the future goals of Ideal Standard. This is why Atelier Collections was created (see the article on page 67), a project that, by restarting the collaboration with a large design studio, has brought new life-blood to technology and design. In addition, if a good project knows how to dialogue with science, it is also capable of improving real life and offering moments of true well-being, then it means that it knows how to keep up with the times and is able to imagine the best of all possible worlds. For sure, surrounding us with pure beauty.
Ponti Z, an iconic shape in the colours of the fifties and sixties. The basin of the washbasin, smooth and without reliefs, is trapezoidal: a shape that follows the movement of the arms when washing.
Some historical advertising campaigns. Prestigious Artists and graphic designers such as Fritz Fricker, Pino Tovaglia, Ezio Bonini and Enrico Ciuti used to work for Ideal Standard.
Architecture that looks at nature. In Milan, near the Parco Lambro, The Park Towers designed by the Asti Architetti studio offers a sustainable way of living with its two skyscrapers respectively of 22 and 15 floors. Furniture and materials can be customized and chosen from a catalogue with the best design brands. Ideal Standard features Blend Curve and Tesi, Conca, Joy, UltraFlat S shower trays, Connect 2 shower cubicles, Connect Air tubs. ProSys Houses and Plates.
Left. pictures of the Bea Group showroom in Milan. Below, left. A few cover pages from Ideal Standard quarterly house organ issued from 1958 to 1969. The magazine was directed by Enrico Ciuti, artist, graphic designer, designer and ceramic artist.
Right. The mixers of the Conca series have different finishes ranging from the more traditional chrome to satin. The showroom is vital to create a rewarding and emotional experience, which goes beyond traditional display methods. Below, right. pictures of the Idrosanitaria Canavesi exhibition room in Tradate (VA).
Business and culture
The will to be an active part in the shaping of our society with generosity and vision. A lesson to remember
In the fifties and sixties, Europe experienced a moment of cultural expansion, of faith in the future and progress. Culture went hand in hand with industry, and the results of that agreement are still important reference points. Companies took care of the lives of their employees: they organized summer resorts, built kindergartens, libraries, sports centres. Ideal Standard invested in formal research and training. With the quarterly house organ (from 1958 to 1969) he first dedicated himself to well-being inside the homes and to their related issues, then from 1964 to 1969 his attention shifted to well-being and social evolution, publishing articles by sociologists, psychologists, inquiries of various types on emerging issues such as pollution, sustainability, diseases of prosperity. At Sala Espressioni (from 1963 to 1968), on the other hand, the exhibition area was dedicated to formal research mand, as a real pioneer, Ideal Standard supported avant-garde art and design. Opening an exhibition space and naming it Sala Espressioni amounted to a clear statement, which expressed the desire to freely welcome different opinions and asserted the search for open exchanges and constructive debates. Expression. «The act and the way of expressing, of communicating to others what one feels, thinks or wants ». According to the definition taken from the Treccani vocabulary. "I can accept the authorship of the name "expressions” which is dear to me: but the credit for the idea of the exhibition room goes to Ideal Standard, and its determination to make this exhibition in the heart of Milan, instead of a static presentation of maquettes, the centre of an effervescent cultural activity ". Gio Ponti. If "true culture means producing, then ask questions" as the architect and designer Enzo Mari who has recently passed away used to say, the American company had perfectly understood the value of this thought and, anticipating the times, was able to combine its name with the Masters of the project and culture. The furniture by Le Corbusier, the installations by Michelangelo Pistoletto, the effects of light and spaces by Achille and Pier Giacomo Castiglioni, the two hundred and fifty variations of a woman's face by Piero Fornasetti, the experimentations by Bruno Munari, the dynamic environment, by Ettore Sottsass, the programmed art by Enzo Mari would all pass through here. All of them and many others invited to express their thoughts on the relationship between work, space and decoration.
The 1965 setting created for Ideal Standard's Espressioni Room in Milan was designed by the brothers Pier Giacomo and Achille Castiglioni. Below. Another image of an exhibition in the Ideal Standard cultural space active in Milan in the sixties and seventies.