Milan, capital of graphic design

And that’s why Milan is also the capital of graphic design. Officially from the day after tomorrow, March 25, when the first edition of the Milano Graphic Festival opens, a three days dedicated to graphics and everything that goes with it, including illustration, visual communication, workshops, exhibitions. Francesco Dondina, visual designer and founder of the Dondina Associati studio, which is the festival’s “starter” – defined by Stefano Mirti, director of the Advanced School of Applied Art – tells Repubblica Design how the idea for the exhibition was born: “The festival was created for to fill a void and a need. Milan is certainly the design capital, but between history and the present there is also a great specific graphic tradition. A cultural heritage that we today try to codify and bring to the public, not only by enthusiasts and professionals, but for everyone, for the curious, for those who have understood that graphics are everywhere – on the street, in the public space, in the objects we use – and contribute to building culture in a country”.

The curators of the Milano Graphic Festival. From left Francesco Dondina, Marta Sironi, Anna Steiner, Gaetano Grizzanti, Mauro Chiabrando, Franco Achilli on their knees. To the right the graphic image of the exhibition

The sixty years of Salone in the posters of Emiliano Ponzi

by Nino Brisindi



A lot of attention therefore to the history of Italian graphics, clearly of the various initiatives dedicated to the characters who have contributed to writing it, or rather, to drawing it. “In Milan, as well as in other cities in our country,” Dondina continues, “we have a great historical heritage, archives and foundations, which preserve the masterpieces of the graphic masters of the last century. We can not afford to leave them there to collect dust. To give just a few examples, we have fished out some of John Alcorn’s masterpieces: although not original pieces, they are nevertheless tables never seen before, the first drawings by the American graphic artist and illustrator who arrived in Italy in the early seventies, revolutionized the graphic identity of Bur, Rizzoli Universal Library, starting from the logo. An important part of the history of Italian graphics, reclaimed thanks to the help of John Alcorn’s son, Stephen, and Marta Sironi. Another important restoration, the exhibition dedicated to Albe Steiner, of the Origoni Steiner study. Great graphic and artistic value, but also testimony to the graphic commitment of graphic design ».

Left John Alcorn, Poster with Self-Portrait, 1976. Right Andrea Rauch, Other Stories (illustration by Milton Glaser)

Left John Alcorn, Poster with Self-Portrait, 1976. Right Andrea Rauch, Other Stories (illustration by Milton Glaser)

Bob Noorda, graphic design between freedom and rigor

by Nino Brisindi



The festival’s events are so many, located in different places: the two main hubs will be BASE Milano in the Tortona area and Certosa Graphic Village in the northwestern part of the city. The first will host the SIGNS exhibition. Contemporary Italian Graphics, a collection of works from 25 Italian graphics studios, including authoritative names and young promises; the other will offer three thousand square meters for modern creativity and urban graphics, for example with the Generation YZ exhibition. Among the more than eighty weekend appointments, live painting with artist and calligrapher Luca Barcellona, ​​meetings with Andrea Rauch and Maurizio Milani at the Nuages ​​Gallery – which hosted masters such as Milton Glaser and Folon – the exhibition was set up. on the occasion of Nava Design i via Durini which brings together the hundred most significant pieces produced by the company and born of pencils by Enzo Mari, Massimo Vignelli and Ettore Sottsass – given by Paola Antonelli, Senior Curator of the Department of Architecture and Design at MoMA in New York, dedicated to the designer’s role and social responsibility.

Left, Salvatore Gregorietti, Manifesto of Rinascente.  To the right a work by the Japanese illustrator Emi Ozaki exhibited at the Frankenstein exhibition, Certosa Graphic Village

Left, Salvatore Gregorietti, Manifesto of Rinascente. To the right a work by the Japanese illustrator Emi Ozaki exhibited at the Frankenstein exhibition, Certosa Graphic Village

Another branch of the festival, the one dedicated to teaching – thanks to the work of Franco Achillis, who has created a kind of general states by bringing together 23 design schools from all over Italy. “With the boys, I see passion, and at the same time commitment and awareness for the social role that design can play, ”Dondina continues. “To give an example, during lockdown, we asked young students to design posters to raise money to buy tablets, to allow distance learning even for those who did not have a digital device. Participation was felt and effective. I have great confidence and love for these slightly confused but still attentive and sensitive guys ”. An enthusiasm among the youngest, which the institutions have yet to focus on: “In our school system, graphic design is not yet recognized as a subject in itself. Work must be done, a dialogue must be built with the institutions. For this reason, even in the next editions of the festival, which was to be a biennial event, we will return to talk about it in order to give graphics and visual communication dignity as an official and recognized field of study ».

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