The disruptive thinking of Pirelli’s Sala Futura

Ground-breaking ideas don’t come from well-organised systems, but from disruption and entropy. Sala Futura is the name of a new space set up in two former meeting rooms on the 4th floor of Headquarters 2 in Bicocca. And it’s designed as a place where employees from different divisions within Pirelli can come together to generate new thinking on the way things are done. It will mix people from logistics, marketing and customer service, for example, with research scientists and quality-control experts, and make everyone feel like a valued contributor to the process. The Sala Futura has been creating a buzz in a company more used to industrial processes and heavyweight R&D than the fast and furious ideas generation of Silicon Valley stars such as Google and Facebook. A working group of eight people – drawn from departments across the business – was tasked by Giuliano Menassi, Pirelli’s head of R&D, with developing this new space for innovation. And one of them came up with the name “Futura” drawn from a favourite Italian song of 1980 by the late, great thinker and performer Lucio Dalla, in which he shares his hopes and dreams for the future. The group has also created phrases to give everyone an idea of how the space should be used. Some of these “rules” posted on the walls are: “This is not a meeting room, you are always welcome”; “Feel free to listen and give your opinion”; “We don’t find solutions but we find new questions.” Inside the Sala is an area for serious brainstorming, with a giant wall of TV screens at one end and a magic whiteboard with a touch screen at the other. The boardroom-size table splits into desks for smaller group work. Then there is a space with bean-bag chairs and flip charts for more free thinking and a breakout area with kitchen facilities, table football and a library. A design agency has advised on the look and feel of the place – from purple and orange floors to the mass of plants. Through a doorway is the Materioteca® where people will be encouraged to pick up new materials, make things and test them out.