Booming guards: show me your Green pass QR-code. Pre-registration? Don’t forget the facemask. Temperature check. Yes, Milan is sweaty hot. Summer is back again. Only four pavilions out at the fairgrounds to manage in a leisurely 4 hours top, most companies opting for an expensive 6-meter slot, some twice and actually making an impression like Blå Station. A design giant like Magis shows just a screen and a sofa: come to our showroom in the city! No names on the furniture just scan the QR-codes. So what are you looking at? Digital representations or the real stuff? One might ponder it as a forerunner of the new surveillance regime: your digital access provides us with all your secrets, a probe into future consumer behaviors. Stefano Boeri, brought in as the Salone general at the last minute, provides food courts all around for an audience happily free after a year in hiding. Best is no question the Lost Graduation Show curated by Anniina Koivu with young design students from around the world. What about a lamp that greets you shining happy when you approach, then to close and hibernate when you are away. Or anti-surveillance fashion along with artificial coral reefs. Clever cabinets for the home-office, new modes of transportation, virus-killing textiles.
Human mimicry in a lamp design that shines happily when you approach. One of the highlights out of The Lost Graduation Show curated by Anniina Koivu.
On the other arm of the metro line. Long ochre walls with signs: No trespassing. But there is gate where design conscious clothing is going in and out. This is Alcova in a semi-abandoned cityscape almost taken back by nature. Passing some rifle carrying camouflaged ladies, here is Benjamin Motoc heaving a precious sculptural metal table. ‘Yeah, it’s heavy, I’ve used molten wax and ice that almost explodes when you pour the aluminum.’ This is yet again an exploration of old and new materials that show how some young designers have used the pandemic hibernation not to let design atrophy in isolation, but to question and advance the design profession. Just outside the derelict laundry building there is a cloud of creamlight by Berlin based Ania Bauer and Jacob Brinck showcasing a search for a new aesthetic beyond clear-cut modernism and cynical commercialism. The heat is oppressing and it’s time for a drink. What about possibly drug-laced coconut milk served in breast-shaped bowls (clever too, the nipple doesn’t allow for setting it down, the students from MIAR have to grab them immediately for secure cleaning)? The Korova bar a reminiscence of Kubrik’s 2001, retroutopism bringing past and present into a dream about tomorrow.
Masterly in Palazzo Turati in the center is brimming with Dutch designers. Victor de Bie, all clad in black, draw cartoonish art that becomes carpets and furniture, and especially a beautifully carved sideboard. ’Is it already sold?’ ‘How did you know? It’s supposed to be a secret that a girl just bought to keep her ”things”.’ We are far away from modernist restricted definition of function, instead we are going emotional. ’Arts decoratif,’ I suggest and Victor agrees happily. Further in Fransje Gimbrere show a room partition in polished brass, like a jewelry turned furniture. At Eindhoven design school, in yet another military building, the master degree works are devoid of the usual storytelling nonetheless a demanding caption: ‘Hello, Can you hear me?’ I manage to interrupt Lola Tual preparing for a videoconference. ‘You are always under surveillance in the modern office, there is no privacy, you can’t even hide in the toilet, so I turned it into a stage, don’t dare to use it though!’ If anyone doubts that design is political there is Dejana Kabiljo’s wall of giant sugar cubes at Design Variations in Palazzo Litta, a comment on the allure of raw capitalist energy surges. Truly artistic endeavors are A’mare by Jacopo Foggini for Edra, water blue methacrylate with a nice flex for outdoor furniture where every individual bar has his magic touch of hand (did he take into account that he will have to produce them all on a monthly basis?). And a special mentioning of my dear friend Duilio Forte, a true outsider exploring his own artistic visions. Duilio drew up the design for a giant Arc in front of il Duomo as the main attraction for the Salone that got cancelled last year. The Dvlightships in welded steel inhabited with the universe of Duilio’s art are diving right for the worm-hole projected on the wall, entering a world beyond our present designworld. Lets see what will survive to be treasured and what ends up on the scrap-yard of history.
Published in Form 2021