1937: Italy flexes its muscles, conquers Ethiopia and its “place in the sun”. The Society of Nations reacts by implementing an embargo: a trade block on all goods from abroad. The Fascist Government proclaims: “autarchy!” Meanwhile, in Italy and around the world, Picasso paints Guernica, the Bauhaus movement is at its peak, Balilla is founded and the sportsmen Coppi, Bartali and Nuvolari capture the imagination with their great exploits. Frank Lloyd Wright designs and constructs his “Fallingwater”, one of the masterpieces of modern architecture. The atom is split for the first time at the Chicago Stadium. Humphrey Bogart, Marlene Dietrich, Rita Hayworth and Fred Astaire are the stars of the moment. La Scala Opera House reopens, directed by Toscanini, the popular song “Parlami d’amore Mariù” is being played and everybody is tip-tapping.
The war is now an increasingly distant memory, life is getting back to normal! Black and white television arrives, and the TV serial heroes Peppone and Don Camillo entertain the Italian public. Coppi wins the Tour of Italy and Tour of France in the sport of cycling, and the Fiat 500 and Lambretta also rule the roads. The film industry also creates its own legends destined to be engraved in all our memories. In Italy, De Sica shoots “Bicycle Thieves”, Totò has us all laughing, and Federico Fellini charms us while Anna Magnani wins the Oscar. On the world stage, John Wayne’s characters, Brigitte Bardot’s charm and Marilyn Monroe’s sensuality capture the imagination. At Alla Scala Theatre Maria Callas and Renata Tebaldi enjoy great success, while the singer Nilla Pizzi’s name is on everybody’s lips with the popular song “Vola colomba vola”.
The Italian economy takes off and it is a period of economic boom. The Sputnik goes into orbit and Yuri Gagarin is the first man in space. The world seems to be spinning faster: Livio Berruti runs fast too at the Rome Olympics, not to mention Wilma Rudolph winning three gold medals in the sprints in athletics. It is the Pop Art period. America elects John Kennedy, arrests Martin Luther King and watches in admiration as Cassius Clay dances around the ring. DNA is discovered in the field of medicine and the laser is invented in science. Italy dreams along to Federico Fellini’s “La dolce vita”, Domenico Modugno’s “Nel blu dipinto di blu”, “Diana” by Paul Anka and songs by the Beatles. The quiz era also begins with the TV programme “Lascia o raddoppia”.
Protests around the world question everything. Politics, work, relations between men and women will never be the same again. The Earth is no longer big enough for us: Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin are the first men to set foot on the moon. The film industry also takes off with Stanley Kubrick’s “2001: A Space Odyssey” and the Star Wars epic. Meanwhile, the latest developments in industrial technology are the legendary Brionvega TV set, the juke box, colour TV and the 45 rpm vinyl disc. Civil society decides to lower the age of adulthood from 21 to 18 years. Optic fibres are also discovered in the field of science. The world music stage is graced by the likes of Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, Genesis, Abba, The Bee Gees and then Bob Dylan, Joan Baez, Mina, Gino Paoli and other Italian singers. The famous Woodstock Festival makes music history. The Italian quiz master Mike Buongiorno livens up people’s evenings in Italy with his legendary “Rischiatutto”.
This is a truly high-tech decade giving us Amiga, Atari ST, the Commodore 64, Apple Macintosh and the first version of Windows: computers are now part of office life. In the home, we have magnetic VHS video tapes, music tapes and compact discs. In sport, Italy produces champions of the calibre of Sara Simeoni and Pietro Mennea. And, applauded by the Italian President Sandro Pertini, Italy wins the Football World Cup in Spain. Punk, Rap and Hip-Pop music are all born, but the most listened- to successes are by Michael Jackson and Madonna.
In the Soviet Union, Perestrojka marks the start of some époquemaking changes. To the great joy of the German people and most of the world, the Berlin Wall falls under the blows of a desire for freedom. This is the start of a great period of change, which culminates in the end of Communism and the independence of several Republics from the former Soviet Union. Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost, and Alberto Tomba and Deborah Compagnoni battle it out, and Diego Maradona, Michel Platini and Marco Van Basten astonish us with their skills. Scientists clone a sheep called Dolly. Shag-pile carpets suddenly appear in our homes. The latest music is by Rem, Nirvana and U2.
We are faster, better informed and closer together. Technology enters the home and is available to everybody. Bill Gates creates Windows, we have satellite television, the mobile phone, Internet and Linux. Italy has plenty to brag about: Roberto Benigni wins the Oscar for best foreign film with “La vita è bella”; the Winter Olympics are held in Turin in 2006; the Italian Football Team wins the World Cup with Mapei as its lucky sponsor! Around the world we get Wikipedia, the Euro is minted, the European Union extends its borders. The first No-Global demonstrations take place.
Communications travel so fast that every event which takes place around the world becomes part of our lives, as it happens. But that’s not all. Even people’s ideas, thoughts and images are part of the flow of communications, and social networks are the fastest, most creative tools to help us reach like-minded people. Tablet PC’s help in this process, and downloading and communicating has become more simple than ever. Speed also plays a leading part in science: in 2011, the CERN particle accelerator in Geneva clocked a beam of neutrinos travelling slightly faster than the speed of light (exceeded by approximately 20 parts per million). Federica Pellegrini’s victories took Italian swimming to the top of the world, and for the first time Cadel Evans, an old friend of Mapei, won at the World Road Cycling Championships in Mendrisio. Lady Gaga is the new global star of pop music, and the history of cinema took a giant leap forward for the triumphant special effects in the film Avatar. At the end of 2011, the loss of Steve Jobs brought an air of sadness over the world, a world he had tried to improve with his ground-breaking technology. And it is also a period of global financial and economic crisis, which is still not over following the meltdown in 2008. And in spite of all this, the growth of Mapei around the world continues and it is ready to take on all challengers.
The use of internet is growing globally, driven by the introduction of smartphones.
The growth covers the entire world and the buzzword is “streaming” which, thanks to the speed of the web, allows apps and sites to transmit a continuous flow of music and films. The new i-Phone 8 is eagerly awaited, Facebook is set to reach 2 billion users and, in December 2017, Star Wars fans will be able to enjoy the release of the eighth episode in the series. In the meantime engineers are working on the development of virtual reality, while the web itself has spread its roots into the exchange market with the introduction of the bitcoin. And this is only the beginning. On the 31st of October 2015 the curtain went down on Expo 2015, the Universal Exposition that brought 21 million visitors to Milan, attracted by the theme of “Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life”.
Inside the exposition site, Mapei supplied products for the construction of 65 pavilions, all nine clusters and various complementary features, such as the enormous foundation slab on which the event itself was built.
In the 2012-2013 season, the Sassuolo football team bearing the Mapei brand and trained by Eusebio Di Francesco obtained an historical promotion to the Serie A. And with their 6th place in the 2015-2016 season, for the first time ever, they qualified for a place in a European competition and then confirmed the following year to be a force to be reckoned with on the Italian football scene.
But it was the economic crisis, and its long-running effects that never seem to end, that dominated everyone’s attention over the last five years.
In this difficult period Giorgio Squinzi, CEO of Mapei Spa, also took on the role of President of Confindustria, the Italian business association, from 2012 to May 2016. The financial crisis of 2007, which started in the United States, and now Brexit, has really put the unity of Europe to the test. And while Europe in general seems to be taking the right steps to overcome the situation, Italy is still wavering. At the current rate of growth GDP will only return to around the same level as 2007 in the first half of the next decade.
But, in spite of everything, during this five-year period, Mapei Group continued to grow in every geographical area in which it operates by aiming at internationalisation, innovation and diversification in numerous sectors. And eco-sustainability in the building industry remains the central issue, with Mapei playing a leading role for decades.