he XXII International Exhibition of the Triennale di Milano investigates the relationship that exists between mankind, nature and design. Overseen by Paola Antonelli, the Senior Curator of the Department of Architecture and Design as well as the Director of the Department of Research and Development of the MoMA in New York, the exhibition Broken Nature. Design Takes on Human Survival analyses the role that design and architecture play as regards to nature as well as mankind’s urge to reproduce his relationship with the natural ecosystems. This relationship is subsequently broken by the current anthropocentric trend that forces us to approach the natural world in an entirely different way, in order to safeguard us and the environment.
Broken Nature serves as a reflection on sustainable design as well as a tonic as "design shapes the components that affect your life. By acting as a cognitive, pragmatic and political mediator, design acts as a repair tool," explains Paola Antonelli. "Broken Nature invites you to understand in depth the multispecies systems that surround you and encourages you to adopt a long-term perspective”.
The exhibition’s main aim is to suggest a series of concrete measures that if executed correctly, contribute to rebuilding mankind’s relationship with nature. Besides, Broken Nature puts on display the work of twenty two international guests that offer their unique interpretation of the Triennale’s main theme. The exhibits offer a reflection on current and pressing themes such as water, plastic, raw materials, food, complex systems, coexisting with different species and migration.
In the entrance, Totems by Neri Oxman, an Israeli designer and academic who experiments with melanin (the biological marker of evolution) as a possible new architectural surface, introduces the visitors to the over one hundred projects on display. You move from the work by international designers (besides Neri Oxman and her research team, the Mediated Matter Group of the MIT Media Lab, the exhibition includes Formafantasma, the American-Lebanese Sigil Collective and Accurat, a firm that focuses on research and innovation in the field of data-driven design, directed by Giorgia Lupi and Gabriele Rossi), to smaller projects such as the aluminium stools by Studio Swine that has created a sort of itinerant foundry constructed from abandoned tin-cans, in an attempt to resolve the vast amount of waste of the city of San Paolo; the cutlery Anima by Kosuke Araki, manufactured with food waste; the water filter system by the food design studio Arabeschi di Latte as well as the Incremental Housing Project by studio Elemental by Alejandro Aravena, a virtuous cycle that aims to regenate social housing.
Exploring design and nature continues with The Great Animal Orchestra by the Fondation Cartier pour l’art contemporain of Paris, an audio-visual immersion in the sounds of nature, created by the musician and bio-acoustics expert Bernie Krause and the British collective United Visual Artists (UVA). The Nazione delle Piante however, overseen by professor Stefano Mancuso with the artistic supervision of Marco Balich, is an itinerary through the natural world that emphasises on how much plants are necessary for the survival of mankind. One of the most poetical projects on display, Resurrecting the Sublime undoubtedly deserves a mention as it has reproduced in a laboratory the scent of the flowers of an extinct tree.
With unprecedented projects, historic works of art, sustainable artefacts, experiments with bio-materials and illustrating the best recycling practices, this exhibition encourages you to reflect: in fact, it’s high-time we radically changed our point of view, in an effort to re-establish the necessary relationship with the natural and social ecosystems, before it is too late. “The animals are a mere 0.03% of the planet's matter, on the contrary the plants represent the 85%” Stefano Mancuso points out. What’s more, we are referring to organisms that have extraordinary abilities as they are able to communicate, adapt and socialize. Therefore, we have to learn to listen to them, as "plants demonstrate possible ways of resolving our problems".
Where: Triennale di Milano, viale Alemagna 6, Milano
When: until the 1st September 2019