Emanuele Bendini & Giampaolo Benedini - Photo © Mark Seelen
Emanuele Bendini & Giampaolo Benedini - Photo © Mark Seelen

Visiting the exhibition Agape has set up in its new headquarters at the center of the Parco del Mincio – the Agape “Bosco” campus – is like reading a book on design history where words, images and illustrations mingle in harmony, becoming a unique narrative for all observers, from the most expert designers to students in middle school. The reconstruction of the places and symbols that have made Agape an example of great creative depth is a soundtrack of the golden age of design, a discourse that starts from several aesthetic premises which remain constant over time, expressed in terms of variations and evolutions.

Bosco, Agape campus, Bagnolo San Vito, Italy – Photo © Marzio Bondavalli

50th anniversary exhibition of Agape

Every stop along the way in the exhibition reflects these values. Photographs, memories, products: the visitor is immersed in real time inside the history-project of the company. The pathway begins with a wall covered with images: they are the shots taken over the years by great names in photography (Aldo Ballo, Studio Azzurro, Leo Torri, Andrea Ferrari and others), a cornerstone of that idea of product + communication + surprise that is part of Agape’s DNA. Without overlooking the dose of irony that has always been an earmark of the firm’s products.

Erion by Agape,
design Benedini Associati, 1975

In-Out by Agape,
design Benedini Associati, 2020

Cenote by Agape,
design Patricia Urquiola, 2023

The  stops along the route are different from each other, starting with furniture (the Erion system from 1975, for instance) and reaching the world of the bathroom. They narrate successes, unexpected developments and immediate reactions. The designers who have accompanied Agape in this long story (all called into play, so to speak, by Giampaolo Benedini with the approval of his brother Emanuele, the two motors of the company) are all exceptional talents: Enzo Mari, Patricia Urquiola, Gwanael Nicolas, Kostantin Grcic, Neri&Hu, Jean Nouvel, extending to the present with the recruitment of Elisa Ossino and Studiopepe. Naturally a separate mention goes to the role of Angelo Mangiarotti, in a special space that illustrates his extraordinary collaboration with Agape over the years, including remarkable (re)editions of many of his projects.

O.J.C. by Agape,
design Benedini Associati, 1991

Gabbiano by Agape,
design Giuseppe Pasquali, 1994

Foglio by Agape,
design Benedini Associati, 2000

Multiple voices converge in a single language. In this sense, the exhibition in the exhibition on the interpretations of works, commissioned to designers with which the firm collaborates: a collage of ideas, intuitions and humor. Agape has reinvented the bathroom, and in the process it has launched a change which the market has observed first with curious distrust, and then so fully as to have an influence on the design of dozens of other companies. 

The title of the show displays the Benedini sense of humor: “Actually, we were trying to do something else”: who knows what that “something else” was? But the design community appreciates Agape for what it is. The show remains on view until the end of March 2024. And it is well worth a visit.

La secchia rapita by Agape,
design Giampaolo Benedini, 1981

Spoon by Agape,
design Benedini Associati, 1998