Pythagoras or Euclid: who is depicted in the Polimi logo?

The Regio Istituto Tecnico Superiore -this is what the Politecnico di Milano was called in 1863- had no logo when it was founded, or rather it was reduced to its name, written in typographic characters as in the wording of the institutional documents of the time. A style not at all representative and with only an informative function.  

In fact, as a whole, it was very different from where we study today: the seat was at the Palazzo del Senato, engineering was the only course offered and there was certainly no merchandising line with the logo.

This has appeared on degree cards since 1942, inspired by a medal of some forty years earlier coined for the celebration of the second Director of the Politecnico. No, the Poli logo does not depict Giuseppe Colombo, but rather the other side of the medal, literally, on which we find a drawing by Luca Beltrami.

So, who are the subjects represented, those figurines that from a distance look like a group of designers in a B2 classroom engaged in the delivery of a project?

The scene is a reproduction of a cut-out from Raphael’s fresco of the School of Athens: Euclid, or according to some Archimedes, portrayed in the guise of Bramante, explaining a theorem to his pupils with a compass. Not so different from the next BeReal: it is 5pm and immortalised are the projected slides of the lecture that you and your colleagues are trying to decipher … In your head you are torn as to what to do next, between stopping for an aperitivo, studying in the library or going home.

It is a stylised version, which has undergone various modifications and graphic additions since the 1960s, until a recognisable and coordinated image has been defined. For visual communication enthusiasts, or those who are simply curious, I recommend reading the studies on the logotype, whose synthesis and perceptive research work has taken dozens of years. Less simple than expected.

The composition symbolises wisdom, culture, science and philosophy, in an environment of discussion and reflection, in short the values of our university. Just like the brand name of a company or any other type of organisation, the logo represents the identity of the Poli and those who are part of it, including us students.  

I would clearly be the bent-over character asking the professor the umpteenth question, but what about you?

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