UNIDEE 2011 visits Ermenegildo Zegna’s factory


Yesterday we went to Ermenegildo Zegna’s factory, where we were able to see the process of high-quality textile production, from the raw material (wool that comes from Australia, Peru and Mongolia) till the very end.

The relationship between Cittadellarte and Zegna started long time ago, even before the establishment of the Fondazione here in Biella. Pistoletto’s father painted several large-scale paintings for Mr. Ermenegildo, in which he depicted the whole process of fabric making. So, as we entered the first room we visited, we saw his paintings on the wall, which connected with the “raw” wool on display in the room.

Then we moved on to the “hardcore” side of the production, visiting the several rooms, filled up with machines in which the wool is processed. There are several types of techniques, but unfortunately I was too amazed with the space to remember their technical names. But as far as I can remember, the main techniques are: 1) combing the wool to make the fibers parallel; 2) twisting and stretching the fibers to make thread 3) waving thread in different ways to create different patterns and types of fabric.

It was a great experience, as we were able to visit no just the factory, but also to get to know more about the Zegna Fundation and the archive of the company. Ermenegildo Zegna was a very important person for the area; he built roads, a hospital, a school, a cinema and a  leisure center (that includes a public swimming pool), planted hundreds of thousands of trees and helped loads of families from the local community.

I’ve made a short selection of pictures and a quick video, showing some parts of the fabric-making process. My highlights are the roof, with an installation (the flags) by the French Artist Daniel Buren, where you can have an idea of the size of the company as well as the public buildings commissioned by Mr. Zegna, everything surrounded by the amazing mountains of north Trivero and the weaving machines room. Hope you enjoy it!



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