Human history and business practices can be unravelled through the history of materials, too.
Making. Planning. Devising. Building. Progressing. The development of human societies moved through these stages, too, and indeed keeps on doing so. The ability to think, then, but also to give shape and material form to useful objects – tools for living, travelling, communicating. Factories and manufacturers. Materials, then, as the key elements of development, yesterday as today. And also the founding elements of a corporate culture that, over time, developed and evolved, in line with the evolution of materials. This is what we learn by reading Il segreto delle cose. Storie di uomini e materiali (The secret of things. Stories of individuals and materials), by Silvano Fuso, a recently published book whose narration takes us through the stories of some of the most important materials in history.
The book takes its cue from an observation: the availability of new materials has always had an impact on the development of human societies. It’s not a coincidence that the prehistoric ages are identified with the name of the material that was increasingly being used: stone, bronze (and copper), and iron. Nowadays, too, materials accompany our social and economic progress: new metal alloys, plastics, semiconductor materials, new ceramic, magnetic, electric, optical materials, up to the so-called smart materials and nanomaterials. All sectors are dependant on them: construction, technology, logistics, medicine, communications, but also the arts, architecture, design.
On the strength of these premises, Fuso has written 14 chapters, dedicated to 14 materials and their uses – from the humblest and simplest to the most complex – smartly summarising the subject we now call “materials science” but that, after all, is no less than a journey through the history of manufacture, which is also the history of humankind.
Il segreto delle cose. Storie di uomini e materiali (The secret of things. Stories of individuals and materials)
Carocci editore, 2021