Letizia Zuccon, collaborator of Soffieria Neon Susegana ("Susegana Neon Glassworks") and now PhD in Languages for International Communication, has just graduated in Computer Science applied to Multimedia Communication with a dissertation on “Neon craftsmanship, art and lighting design: a statistical analysis on consumer perception”.
We at F/ART, as a national and international reference point for neon, have provided support for the collection of material to the newly proclaimed doctor. We were impressed from her nearly 200-page-long essay containing a thorough survey and data.
1. What pushed you to write your dissertation on neon?
For years I have watched my father and grandfather shape glass tubes and work tirelessly, perfectly shaping this delicate but fascinating material. I wanted to bring to light a very niche sector, which needs to be advertised because it is an artisanal product that requires experience and dexterity to be created. It is really a pity that very often cold cathode light installations are associated with an industrial product rather than a totally customizable and unique handmade product.
2. A topic like this is unusual and original, how did the supervisors welcome the proposal on this topic?
My first supervisor enthusiastically welcomed the topic of my dissertation, he helped and supported me a lot in particular in the part of the statistical analysis, which led to discovering very interesting information. I received many compliments for the originality of the work; the second and third supervisors were also intrigued from a world they did not know.
3. We know that the presentation went very well, concluding your journey graduating with honors. What questions and interests did your dissertation raise in the graduation commission on the big day?
The commission was very interested in future projects, in particular in drawing near neon manufacturing to the new generations. They considered it very important for this art to be handed down; similarly to the Murano's handicraft, neon craftmanship requires courses to teach the processing and to engage with the public, particularly because the value of a handmade product is certainly greater than an industrial product.
The commission was very interested in the MU/TER project, I was asked how the landscape could change, how the project will involve people and what it could bring to life in the local area.
4. You have dedicated about fifteen pages to the use of neon for art and design, is there a work that particularly stood out? Have you had the chance to see it in person?
I very much appreciated the work “... the Illuminating Gas” by Cerith Wyn Evans, exhibited at the Pirelli Hangar Bicocca. I was struck by the size of the work: the installation was so grandiose that it made me feel small. I know Federica Marangoni's installations very well, I had the pleasure of seeing her works as “work monument to the female job” in 2020 at the Berengo foundation and “Il filo conduttore"installed at Ca' Pesaro.
Additionally, I remember very well seeing an installation by Joseph Kosuth in the Louvre in 2009.
5. You analyzed the answers of people of various ages, noticing a remarkable difference between many responses belonging to the groups over the age of 40 and the groups under it. Are you in line with the thinking of today's young people?
I noticed that the younger ones are more open than the over 40 to light installations as a furnishing accessory. Turning to social media for purchase, younger people are targeted by ads of "handmade customizable flex neon", having no other terms of comparison, as the cold cathode is not advertised enough. I have seen how the characteristics of the latter are unknown, for example its duration, the surface temperature, the materials with which it is produced.
Personally, for commercial use I could opt for both LED and neon, I believe that in this context they can coexist. As for an installation at home or inside a club, I prefer neon. I have seen more than one Flex Led sign from up close, and I wouldn't install it, because it doesn't have the same vitality and energy as neon. Brightness, a 360° color, is something that can hardly be replicated.
6. There is a lot of misinformation about real neon, many confuse it with the old office fluorescent lamps, or with the new flex led. These latest ones are often called flex neon to confuse the consumer and lead them to believe they are buying a real cold cathode lamp instead of LED. We at F/ART have loved working for years to bring attention to the real characteristics of neon, correcting the fake news that are circulating online, but everybody has to join movement. In your opinion, what should the workers of the whole sector and real-neon lovers do to fight this misinformation?
The sector needs to be advertised more, it is necessary to enhance the artisanal product and all its features.
Companies that cater to the final consumer should propose neon as a solution for both lighting and furnishing; it is also necessary to train from a technical point of view, because very often another material is chosen simply due to disinformation.
It must also be promoted to lighting designers and architects, who can benefit from its expressive capacity.
7. Last question: what are your plans for the future? Do you plan to help collaborate with your father's glassblowing company in some way even if you take a different path?
My plan is to start a path of work experiences that allow me to develop a background in the commercial field. In the meantime, I will continue to associate and collaborate with Neon Susegana.