COOKING IS AN ART

OLIMPIA ZAGNOLI FOR BARILLA

“Imagine a traveller who takes a wrong turn. If the path they choose reveals things about themselves and the world that they would never otherwise have known, making them a better person, can we truly say that they took the wrong turn?”

These are the opening words to Barilla’s video to celebrate five years of inclusion and diversity projects.

After a long journey focused on developing awareness and internal discussion, guided by a Crisis Committee formed of Igor Suran of Parks; LGBT activist and writer David Mixner; Lisa Kepinski, Founder & Director of the Inclusion Institute; Seth Adam, Spokesperson for Glaa; Kristen Anderson, Chief Diversity & Inclusion Officer; Kimberly Braithwaite, Senior Human Resource Manager-Americas at the Barilla Group; and many other people, Barilla has made important progress this year, becoming the first Italian company to support the Standards of Conduct for Business by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights: a huge step forward that few companies can claim.

And now the wheel is in motion, there is little sign of it stopping: the Parma-based group has launched many initiatives, events and collaborations to promote inclusion.

One of the most important is a recent project by Olimpia Zagnoli: limited-edition packaging for Spaghetti N°5, decorated with a colourful, pop-art illustration in Olimpia Zagnoli’s unmistakeable style. The figures featured, also seen in beautiful illustrations for Perugina, Prada, Salani and many other great Italian brands, are the distant descendants of Giosetta Fioroni’s pop models from the Sixties.

They represent a joyous tribute to diversity and inclusion.

The whole thing came about at the annual Pasta World Championship, which Barilla traditionally takes part in, held in Milan on 24-25 October 2018. “One day, I drew two women in love, sharing a plate of spaghetti late at night, and I sent it to Barilla”, explains Olimpia, sitting behind her desk in a mesmerising studio in Porta Ticinese.

“I never thought the company would accept it but they did”.

Olimpia Zagnoli’s work draws extensively on Italian visual and graphic culture. There is that desire to invent a world so typical of the Futurists (clothes, cushions, shoes); there are bright colours, the Sixties, the economic boom, stylised female figures embellished with beauty spots above their lips. Olimpia’s style is light, synthetic and symbolic all at once; geometrical forms and shapes tackle the image of Italy abroad.

It encompasses memory, long summers, Tuscany, Milan, design and “lifestyle”, as Giò Ponti first described it.

“My initial idea was very direct: two lovers sharing a plate of spaghetti one night”, reveals Olimpia, showing us her first sketches. And this disarming simplicity and powerful form of expression proved to be a great success.

“We have admired Olimpia’s work for years because her style is so minimal, simple and joyful. Just like a plate of spaghetti in tomato sauce!” explains Kristen Anderson, Barilla’s Chief Diversity & Inclusion Officer. “The image that Olimpia created for us sends a message of love and inclusion, which Barilla is really committed to. We have taken important steps towards diversity and inclusion in these past years.

Not only do we believe that it is the right thing to do, it is also fundamental for the way we do business. Brands with a large audience have a responsibility to speak up for those without a voice. Like it or not, even the company’s smallest choices send a message”. It is no coincidence that Barilla received a high score in the Corporate Equality Index (a ranking based on internal and external company policies in this field) drawn up by the Human Rights Campaign, an LGBTQ rights association.

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