tale, a theatrical production, a story: this was and still is the spirit behind the Triennale Design Museum in Milan that for over ten years, as an “ever-changing” museum has been providing a glimpse into the world of design, focusing on experimentation and research. Ever-changing in fact, even during this edition of the Salone del Mobile, yet in a new format.
Storie. Il design Italiano is the new exhibition that illustrates Italian design history with 180 different pieces that come for the most part from the Triennale Design Museum’s permanent collection and are considered to be one of the most symbolic collections of Italian design from 1902 to 1998.
This exhibition combines design with communication, geography, politics, technology and economics, as well as shining a light on design culture, the focus of the entire exhibition, turning an ordinary process into a design process. There are five main themes in fact, illustrated by five curators that accompany us through as many historical periods: Geography and Economics (analysed by Manolo De Giorgi), Communication (analysed by Maddalena della Mura), Politics (analysed by Vanni Pasca), Technology (analysed by Raimonda Ricini), plus an analysis on contemporary life by Chiara Alessi.
In a real group effort, the design icons become testimonials of a precise moment in time, demonstrating that design can interpret and anticipate the spirit of the time: an example of this is the Compasso d’Oro award – as Vanni Pasca explains – established in 1954 at the height of post-war reconstruction and at the dawn of the economic boom.
And it’s no coincidence that the exhibition opens with a portrait of “design today”. After having gone through a mirrored gallery that presents us with everyday objects, we find ourselves right in the middle of the Mercato del Contemporaneo, a town square with neon lights, shop windows and stores.
Here, the visitor becomes an integral part of the exhibition, experiencing firsthand “open sourcing”, “custom made”, “crowd funding” and “e-commerce”, as well as being able to take part in an auction, receive promotional gifts or shop with the “monster”, a 6-metre-high dispenser stocked with objects especially designed for this event. Nasa, a kit by Achille Castiglioni that goes for 30 Euros and you can get a lamp, chair and coffee table for a little more. A design icon is only a click away.
The itinerary picks up once more, this time with a throwback to 1902. Then, objects and accessories blend together and follow a precise chronological order, until we reach 1988: the armchair by Ernesto Basile, the Bacio Perugina chocolate, the Superga sneakers, the Vespa, the moka by Gio Ponti, the Lettera 22, the Lambretta, the Coppa del Nonno ice-cream, the Carlton bookcase by Ettore Sottsass, Juicy Salif by Philippe Starck and the Tolomeo lamp by Michele de Lucchi and Giancarlo Fassina.
Emblems of a bygone era that change as time passes, following design’s unstoppable evolution. At the end of the itinerary, in the multimedia theatre, you can have a feel for the “numbers of the design world”, for instance how much Ugo La Pietra and Ettore Sottsass made in the seventies and how much an eighties’ icon is worth now.
Where: Triennale Design Museum, 6 viale Alemagna, Milan, Italy
When: 14 April 2018 – 20 January 2019