Dubai: If you are an art or fashion enthusiast, the must-see pavilion at Expo 2020 Dubai is the Italian pavilion.
In the center of the pavilion is an almost exact replica of Michelangelo’s famous David. The original sculptural masterpiece stands in a public square, outside Palazzo Vecchio, seat of Florence’s municipal government, in Piazza della Signoria.
However, this is no ordinary replica. A team of artists, architects, engineers and historians gathered, in a laboratory in Florence, to use 3D and space technologies to first reproduce the work of art digitally, before print it in three sections using a 3D printer.
The artists then used Italian marble dust to paint the structure, resulting in a marble-like finish. David and other Renaissance artwork isn’t the only thing Florence is known for. It is also one of the biggest fashion districts in Italy.
This is why, according to Paolo Glisenti, Italy’s general commissioner for Expo 2020 Dubai, Florence is a key partner of the pavilion during the Expo.
Some of the biggest brands in the fashion industry originated in Florence, Gucci being one of the most important.
Speaking to Gulf News, Marco Bizzarri, President and CEO of Gucci, said: “As you know Florence is home to many fashion brands. And you know the Renaissance started in Florence. We have a generation of artisans and their children who were born in this community have passed on their knowledge from generation to generation.
“Florence brings something tangible and unique to the world to art and fashion. There is no other place in the world that can do that. This is why we have always invested in Florence and Tuscany in Italy.
The impact of COVID-19 on fashion
According to Bizzari, COVID-19 hasn’t had a huge impact on fashion.
He said: “I think COVID-19 just accelerated something that was already happening. Digitization, which we saw before, is going much faster now…. The good thing about fashion companies is flexibility. It only encouraged us to think of areas that were geographically closer to us, to consider open source for us. “
The city of Florence has taken steps to ensure a reduction in the carbon footprint of its leading fashion industry. Speaking to Gulf News, Dario Nardella, Mayor of Florence, said: “We have many great brands based in Florence. We promote public transport and soft mobility in the fashion district for more than 46,000 employees. Florence reduced 40% of its carbon emissions from 2005 to 2020.
“We have declared that we will achieve carbon neutrality by 2040. Not just for transport but also for products. Fashion companies are now focusing on products with low energy consumption. Companies invest a lot to reduce pollution linked to leather production. Not just big brands, we also pay attention to small and medium-sized fashion entrepreneurs, who are part of the supply chain.
Marco Bizzari added that their company has also recorded a 47% reduction in carbon emissions over the past five years.
Florence to Dubai
Bizzari added: “Dubai is a very important hub for us in the sense that we have invested a lot in terms of stores, people, teams and training activities etc. He also said that Gucci is planning a lot of activities in Dubai in the near future.
Apart from fashion, Florence brings something else to Dubai. The Italian pavilion announced on Sunday the launch of a new academic institution in Dubai, the Higher Training School for the Reproduction of Archaeological Heritage in Conflict Zones.
Grazia Tucci, professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the University of Florence in Italy, explained that the experts who worked on the David reproduction project, would pass on the technical knowledge of the project, to restore the heritage and architecture destroyed war zones and conflict regions. “The reconstruction cannot be based on assumptions… it has to be exact,” Tucci said.
For this, the program will include 300 hours of teaching, and the school will be located where the Italian pavilion is currently located on the Expo site.
Paolo Glisenti, Italian Commissioner General for Expo 2020 Dubai, at the Italian Pavilion on October 10, 2021. Photo Clint Egbert / Gulf News