Goppion are dedicated to the design, construction, assembly and installation of beautifully engineered display cases and complete installations
What do have in common Mona Lisa and the latest state-of-the-art quantum computer, IBM's Q System One? The answer is Goppion Technology.
I first met the CEO Sandro Goppion with his team in 2018 at the Italian Embassy Tokyo. I got immediately fascinated by the company's vast portfolio, including installations in the most renowned museums in the world. When we observe Michelangelo's Rondanini Pietà or an Egyptian mummy, we rarely mind the cases that protect them. Yet, these structures are often masterpieces due to their advanced technology and the enormous amount of research and investments behind them.
Every designer knows very well that simple design is more challenging than complex. Steve Jobs once said: "Simple can be harder than complex. You have to work hard to get your thinking clean to make it simple." When we see the cleanness and minimalism of Apple's products, we assume that those products were easy to create. Conversely, minimalism can be achieved only with meticulous research and careful work of design.
Mies van der Rohe - pioneer of the Modern Movement - coined the famous aphorism "Less is More" to underline the importance of simplification in architecture and design. The Goppion's ability to create beautifully engineered display cases - that are extremely simple and hardly noticeable - results from an advanced work of research and the adoption of cutting-edge technologies. "To protect something, you have to know it." This motto is the starting point of every work carried by the Italian company. To understand the challenges behind conserving cultural heritage in museums, just think of all the requirements that display cases must fulfill. Mainly, the structures must guarantee the protection and preservation of the objects they showcase while enabling the visitors to enjoy them.
For example, airtightness and climate control are necessary to create a stable micro-environment to guarantee the ideal conservation for decades. Security is also crucial. Imagine if the Crown Jewels would be exhibited without defenses, or even worse, within an ugly steel cage. The glass case must include electronic sensors, locks, lighting, anti-seismic devices, and interior fittings while maintaining an appearance of lightness and transparency that does not interfere with its contents. Goppion master the art of bringing all together these tight requirements to create the perfect museum display cases.
In 2019 Goppion Technology Japan was born. Yuta Sakuma - an experienced manager with strong knowledge of Italian companies and the aspiration to "create a new culture of conservation in Japan" - was appointed president. In a recent interview, Sakuma talked about his thoughts on museums and the future challenges of the newborn company, especially mentioning the concepts of environmental responsibility and "cultural creation" as a winning point to create a successful business in Japan. "I think that museums will not survive unless Japan will also emphasize "visual values" and creates "impressions" that make you want to go, like the Louvre Museum and the Uffizi Gallery," states Sakuma. So far, Goppion Technology Japan has already achieved significant milestones, such as the display cases for the Artizon Museum in Tokyo and nine showcases at the National Museum of Tokyo to house its precious collection of Katanas.
To promote the museum culture in Japan, the team launched a program called "Goppion Academy" and coordinated by Professor Eiji Mizushima, museum curator and Director of the Nagasaki Museum of History and Culture. The seminars are held quarterly and dedicated to museum curators, designers, and everyone interested in the international standards of preservation. The topics addressed span from exhibition design to lighting, from risk management to intelligent display cases. This fascinating experiment attempts to promote the culture of cultural heritage conservation in Japan, a subject that lately is attracting an ever-growing interest.
I recently met Bruno Goppion, responsible for business development, and he mentioned the latest projects in Japan, including the case for IBM's Q System One. In 2018, Goppion was asked IBM to partner to create a bespoke casing to protect its state-of-the-art quantum computer, "capable of solving problems far beyond the capacity of even the most powerful supercomputers." The Italian company has realized a display case that works as a skin and interacts with the computer, protecting it from the external elements while emphasizing its futuristic design. This year, Q System and its glasshouse will also land in Japan.
Goppion Technology is assuming the honor, but mainly the responsibility, to protect some of the most valuable heritages of humanity. I have mentioned in the title of this article the concept of "absence." Antoine de Saint-Exupery once wrote that "Perfection is achieved, not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away." We usually celebrate the design of "presence," such as a Ferrari car or a piece of Bulgary jewelry. However, it is essential to celebrate also the creation of "absence," such as a beautifully engineered display case that hides itself to enhance the value of its content.