A former military hospital in the north-western outskirts of Milan has been transformed into the new location for Alcova, an exhibition overseen by Valentina Ciuffi and Joseph Grima that takes place throughout the Salone del Mobile week in Milan. “More than an exhibition, Alcova is a network of contacts,” explains Ciuffi. “Through my contacts as a curator and advisor for various companies and those of Joseph in the institutional and academic world, we cover a broad range of realities in the world of design. We don’t do a call-out for the event, the projects are submitted to us and we make a selection. Exhibitors pay to participate but there is a selection to ensure that the quality is high. The idea is that it’s a bit like the Fuorisalone used to be.”

NILUFAR GALLERY © IMG Studio Piercarlo Quecchia NILUFAR GALLERY © IMG Studio Piercarlo Quecchia

“Although it is not a curated exhibition, Alcova reflects what’s happening in design now as well as what future trends might be coming,’ Ciuffi continues. ”In general, among young brands, we have noticed a desire for more catchy narratives and to be more attractive online as a result of the pandemic. Another interesting trend that has emerged is the mix between traditional craftsmanship and new technologies, as seen for example in the presentation by Nov gallery. There is a return to craftsmanship, but in a new way. Then, of course, there is the topic of ecology. For example, the project “Artificial Wasteland” by Ignacio Subías Albert is a carpet of fake grass on the terrace on the first floor that shows the damage inflicted by human beings on nature”.

AGGLOMERATI  © IMG Studio-Piercarlo Quecchia

Visitors can also see the exhibition “Brassless”, which was already shown at Nilufar last year but not seen by many people due to the lockdown. "In the last ten years we have seen a trend for the widespread use of brass,” Ciuffi explains, “even though it is not suitable for all uses. In design we should not be guided by fashion but by the choice of the most suitable materials according to the circumstances. That’s why this exhibition includes objects in lots of different types of metals but not in brass”.

Alcova includes 52 participants scattered around three atmospheric buildings: one used to house nuns and is an evocative place where nature has taken over, while the two other buildings used to house the hospital’s laundry site and a disinfection area called the temple due to its shape.


Among the other highlights at Alcova is a project called “Herbarium of Interiors” by students from HEAD in Geneva. Curated by India Mahdav, it’s a sort of milk bar inspired by “Clockwork Orange”. Trame design presents objects from regions and countries  on the Mediterranean sea, such as Morocco and Calabria. Objects of Common Interest shows the “Future Archeology” installation, a futuristic domestic landscape set within the frozen-in-time space that is the convent’s utility room. Muse gallery participates with a show entirely dedicated to objects in rattan, while Agglomerati makes objects in marble, a material which is in limited supply as it is obtained by excavating a mountain. The aesthetic of the objects is pure and simple. They are made to last a lifetime.

Words by Silvia Anna Barrilà

LABINAC © IMG Studio-Piercarlo Quecchia LEO RYDELL JOST © IMG Studio-Piercarlon Quecchia LUKAS WEGWERTH & CRAFTING PLASTICS  © IMG Studio-Piercarlo Quecchia MARC LESCHELIER IMG © IMG Studio-Piercarlo Quecchia MUSE GALLERY - Monaco © IMG Studio Piercarlo Quecchia NM3 © IMG Studio Piercarlo Quecchia OBJECTS OF COMMON INTEREST © IMG Studio Piercarlo Quecchia SEM Milano © IMG Studio Piercarlo Quecchia TRAME © IMG Studio Piercarlo Quecchia ALCOVA 2021 Lavanderia photo. Delfino Sisto Legnani Valentina Ciuffi & Joseph Grima photo. Elisabetta Claudio