The daily newspaper "Il Giorno" published an interview with Alessandro Monti who spoke about the adventures of Eliosneon and Soffieria Monti
Shedding light on the lost signs – nostalgia and neon dreams
From Soffieria Monti to Eliosneon, the company covered and illuminated Palazzo Carminati. "Reclame" dismantled in 1999 for "decorum" a decision that many now regret
by ANNAMARIA LAZZARI
Vimodrone (Milan), 7 February 2021 - The non-standard writings of Candy, Cinzano, Ariston, Kores' "workaholic" typist. These are some of the neon signs designed by the Eliosneon company that covered Palazzo Carminati, in front of the Duomo in the late twentieth century. First detested and now lamented, for decades the "bright lights" gave the main square of Milan the electric charm of the New York’s Times Square and Piccadilly Circus in London. Their end was decreed by the Albertini city council in 1999, when it decided to have them dismantled for reasons of urban decorum. Until then there had been a unique scene in the square of the Duomo and the merit is also to be attributed to this Milan-based company by the name of Monti Soffieria, which later moved to Sesto San Giovanni (today it is in Vimodrone). "My grandfather Carlo had founded the soffieria (a glass-blowing furnace) in 1893, after learning the trade in Bohemia, specializing in the production of syringes and stills," reveals the sole director Alessandro Monti, 55. Their first neon advertising signs date back to the thirties but it was after the fifties that the golden season began when Ambrogio, Alessandro's father, founded Eliosneon.
"Neon is actually the name of the first gas, with red incandescence, used for luminous signs, later replaced by argon which has a colour tending towards electric blue" specifies the owner, who joined the company at the age of 21. "The spaces in the Duomo square were rented out by advertising agencies, which had the biggest profit. It was up to us to manufacture the sign on the basis of the creative indications provided. My father had the opportunity to meet the important graphic designer Bob Noorda, who took care of the image of Dreher beer, and to realize the signs for the Giorno a Palazzo dell'Informazione. We created the neon for the showroom in Galleria Passerella by Elio Fiorucci, the Rolling Stone sign. For Palazzo Carminati we created the glittering scripts of Candy, Cinzano, Ariston, Kores, among others. When they were dismantled in 1999 there were few objections. Now the climate has changed and I feel nostalgia. If the municipal administration changed the regulations, we would be ready to start again with our neon," says Monti. A proposal that does not derive from a drop in business: today Eliosneon produces signs, retail furniture and displays for customers of the calibre of Allianz, Fastweb, Eni, with a turnover of about 10 million euros per year. Thirty employees work there, including two glassblowers: five years ago, the company also resurrected the Soffieria Monti brand for tailor-made projects, especially with LED technology.