After living and telling the week of design, it’s time to take stock. From the districts’ suggestions for the events, up to the impact on the city: here’s what we liked and what instead made us confused
With a Salone del Mobile back to the traditional ‘cubature’ and a Fuorisalone extended to cover almost the entire city and in some cases to go further, the design week that has just ended has in some ways resembled that before Covid. , perhaps with a little more awareness of issues related to sustainability. Among the many exhibitions, installations, performances, ideas and interpretations, we have selected some that have affected us in a special way, positively as well as negatively.
– Giulia Marani
TOP 1 – SABINE MARCELIS AND GRANDMA’S WORK FOR SOLID NATURE
The unique pieces created by the Dutch designer and architectural studio founded by Rem Koolhaas to show the potential of natural stone, on display in Alcova during the design week, they amaze on two levels, technically and aesthetically, and are some of the freshest and newest we have seen in recent days. A wow effect that began before the exhibition itself, with a large multicolored portal, and continued in the space ofOffcut Bar, the lounge area with colorful seats and tables made with marble remnants, impeccably set up. Remains on the subject of marble and bars, but radically changed the area, the 1: 1 scale remake inside the Arci Bellezza in the American bar in Vienna was also very successful, designed by Adolf Loos by Davide Fabio Colaci.
TOP – DISTRICT DESIGN ISLAND
It is a district that we have seen grow, and which this year has put together a varied but very coherent proposal, with a special focus on young people and research design, in a sense to take the baton to Lambrate in the golden years. The spaces are sometimes narrow, the “material library” decorated at Spazio Gamma, for example, would certainly have benefited from a few square meters more, but there is a vision, and that is what matters most. Special mention for the selection of pieces by international designers curated by Fine dustto The innocent chair from Antonio Scarponi and for Robot shit exhibitionwhich points to a problem that one usually prefers not to see: the fact that 3D printing has a significant impact on the environmental balance, generating waste (“robot-shit”, on the exhibition’s provocative language), which is particularly complicated to reuse.
TOP – THE INTERGENERATIONAL CLOSING VIEW OF THE EINDHOVEN DESIGN ACADEMY
It is three-quarters of a century old, but it does not show it: among the most avant-garde design schools in the world, Design Academy Eindhoven has decided to celebrate its 75th spring by staging an extra large version of its famous Graduation Show. Decorated in the formerly disused bakery Caserma XXIV Maggio in via Vincenzo Monti with a selection of end-of-year works by students spanning seven decades and several generations, the exhibition gave us the opportunity to rediscover the youthful projects of designers today very very famous – come on Formafantasmaas in 2009 with Casting tradition justified issues such as immigration, cultural assimilation and the ambiguity of the concept of national identity with a good decade ahead of them; mainstreamto Eric Klarenbeek and Maartje Dros (Klarenbeek & Dros), which in the early 2000s promoted energy efficiency by making a lamp “float” thanks to the heat generated by its light source – but also to analyze societal developments according to the needs or problems of young designers who proposed to answer at. different times.
4. TOP – THE EX-INDUSTRIAL ROOMS
The association of design objects and so-called “atypical” places is certainly not new, on the contrary. When you look through the history of Fuorisalone, you will come across any kind of bizarre location or disused building. An example is the former municipal slaughterhouse in Milan, where Pallucco put some memorable events (according to those who attended, which is impossible for the author for personal reasons) in the second half of the eighties. In short, there would be all the conditions for this game, halfway between industrial archeology and destroy porn, you begin to pot. Instead, somehow the atypical sites that have now become typical continue to fascinate: this is the case with the former military hospital in Baggio for the second time in Alcova, as well as the former Necchi plant in Baranzate, a pearl abandoned by over twenty years who have been able to be reborn into a new life thanks to the Belgian designers of Zaventem Ateliersbut also by Fabbrica Orobia, the former railway station covered with ivy, which hosted the show for an ultra-light company like Flos results completely credible as a framework. If the decentralized location of these places on the one hand forces visitors to walk a lot, it on the other hand helps to strengthen the neighborhoods, each with its own identity representing an added value for the city.
5. TOP – SUSTAINABILITY FINALLY INTEGRATED IN THE PROCESSES
Ecology is also a mantra that has been repeated a bit by everyone for several years during the Milan Design Week, but often it was a matter of running greenwashing where large announcements did not correspond to a real commitment. Little by little, however, even the largest companies have begun to see sustainability as a strategic factor for growth and to work with production processes by integrating circularity and recycling of materials. It is no coincidence, for example, that the large exhibition celebrating the British designer’s twenty years of activity Tom Dixon at the Palazzo Serbelloni he left ample room for the work done along with his study of some great classics such as the lamp Mirror ball (proposed in a monumental edition for the first time made exclusively from recycled polycarbonate) and new low-impact materials such as cork or mycelium, or that Eurocucina has started to see household appliances with a significant percentage of recycled plastic.
6. FLOP – TORTONA AREA IN SEARCH FOR IDENTITY
This is not an assessment of the value of individual projects – we have actually seen very interesting proposals, for example the entire first floor of BASE with We Will Design and young designers’ reflections on the future, which are often close to technology or digital or even the intelligent exhibition Fragile of ISIA in Florence in connection with Tortona Rocks – but rather a general reasoning about a district that for some years seems to have too many souls or wants to go in too many different directions without choosing. The result is that it is difficult to orient oneself, while the coexistence between the big brands and the most confidential and research realities sometimes appears forced.
7. FLOP – AN INCLUSIVE MILANO MORE IN WORD THAN FACTS
If Milan is already usually a very expensive city, the rental market under the Salone del Mobile literally explodes, and for those arriving from outside, staying in the city can be really challenging. According to research from AbitareCo published a few weeks ago by Corriere della Sera, the average increase in weekly rent would reach 400% in some areas, while we do not have reliable data on the (no doubt astronomical) rents in places . The problem was pointed out with a certain portion of irony of Alvar Aaltissimo with Nolli Salonea map created in collaboration with the KoozArch platform, which uses the instrument of mixed parametric representation to highlight excesses and tics in our city, as well as highlight the main streams of visitors for use and consumption by those who want to avoid being sucked in by the crowd .
IMG: Alvar Aaltissimo for KoozArch, The Nolli Salone
8. FLOP – DANCE ON THE ICE ROCK, OR IN THE CRATER LEFT OF THE METEORITE
After the preliminary edition of September last year, the one that just ended was the edition of the return to normal pre-pandemic. The design system with its annexes and connections got going again and it was nice to experience some madness again. Certain installations, which only seem to act as a sounding board for brands that may be devoid of any connection with the design world, without any real cultural or design content, seem to come from a bygone era. The feeling you get from watching them is the one you get when you see the end of certain apocalyptic movies, where everyone, after escaping the meteorite or avoiding the nuclear holocaust, returns to their lives, no matter what happened and without having learned anything.