Cino Zucchi

Architect; Urban Designer; Landscape Designer / Italy / CZA — Cino Zucchi Architetti

Cino Zucchi’s Book List

Johann Heinrich Füssli, a Swiss painter friend of William Blake, said once: “In art many beautiful things are born by chance, but are conserved by choice.” The same happens in life, or in our intellectual development. Encountering knowledge is like encountering love; the books that have been meaningful to us are more often “found” than searched for, but the long-lasting impression they make on our mind or soul is caused by inner resonances. Sometimes they are sitting on the shelf right next to the one we were looking for, sometimes we are just inspired by their whimsical title in someone else’s bibliography, sometimes they are passed on by a friend as a wrap of dope. In our mind, the books we read form an elaborate geography of towns, valleys, cities; we love to visit new sites, but also to go back from time to time to places we love, seeing how much our memory has deformed their squares and their alleys to become a meaningful backdrop of our own wandering paths.

9 books
François Truffaut

Hitchcock reveals to Truffaut all his tricks to amplify the intensity of certain scenes by bricolage techniques: a light in a glass of “poisoned” milk to make it as white as possible, a giant model of a gun to shoot a “subjective” scene. Ex ficto verum

J. J. Coulton

Throw away all theories and speculations about the “golden ratio”: this is one of the few serious books about design methods in ancient Greece based on archaeological evidence.

Bernard Rudofsky

A healthy antidote to self-centered design attitudes! 

Stephen Jay Gould

A marvelous collection of articles on the haphazard lines of evolution, and the equally haphazard paths of scientific discovery. Plain language and sophisticated thought by one of the last scientists with deep humanistic interests. Gould narrates the story of the QWERTY keypad as it were that of a mollusk of the “Cambrian explosion.”

Jorge Luis Borges

A perfect language for a perfect narrative construction, in which the exactness of argumentation leads to making paradoxes true. How could the Nobel Prize in Literature be given to Dario Fo and not to Borges? Unbelievable.

Paul Valéry

Originally a poet, Paul Valéry decided to quit poetry and write about almost every field of human experience, revealing himself one of the sharpest minds of the last century. Degas Dance Drawing, Tel Quel, Rhumbs, and the endless quest of his Quaderns are among the writings that primarily touched my intellect. In Monsieur Teste, Valéry tries to present the picture of a “pure intelligence,” interested in its own mechanisms more that in the object of that intelligence. The Introduction to the Method of Leonardo da Vinci, one of his earliest essays, goes way beyond the argument of its title, advocating for a unity between the phenomenological level and the search for deep structures in nature and design.

Douglas Hofstadter

An artificial intelligence genius, best known for his Gödel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid (1979), Hofstadter is able to create connections among areas belonging to the most diverse regions of human experience. His plea to carry to the limit small deviations from well-known patterns to reach new insights (in the essay in Metamagical Themas called “Variations on a Theme as the Crux of Creativity”) could be taken as a manifesto for reuniting knowledge and discovery, culture and experimentation.

Christopher Alexander

Before his spectacular shift from obscure mathematical formulas to folk design, which generated his other masterwork, A Pattern Language, Christopher Alexander gave us deep illuminations on the difference between traditional craftsmanship, based on the repetition of forms, and modern design attitudes, founded on the division between “method” and “result.” A post-functionalist insight into form-making.

Walter Benjamin

Still the most seminal essay on the present relationship between “high-brow” and “low-brow” art. The comparison between cinema and music, which “can be both perceived in a state of distraction,” is prophetic, as are many of the other considerations. A landmark in modern artistic theory.

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