History Repeating at Lake Como Design Festival
Lake Como DEsign FEstival 2021
The third edition of the Lake Como Design Festival is open from 6 to 10 October in a renewed iteration. In the first two editions a boutique fair, it has now become a festival with a cultural slant and the intention to activate the territory, by opening private properties usually closed to the public. Palazzo Mantero, built in the 1920s as the private residence of Riccardo Mantero, founder of the textile company of the same name, and later the company headquarters, has been opened to the public for the first time to exhibit pieces selected from the design companies of the Brianza area. Palazzo Valli Bruni, originally medieval layout extensively renovated in the seventeenth century, is currently home to an academy of music and dance. For this occasion, it houses "20/21" an exhibition with proposals from independent designers. The other venue that has been hosting the event for years is the foyer of the Teatro Sociale, where the main exhibition curated by Marco Sammicheli, director of the Design Museum of the Milan Triennale, is located.
This year’s festival is titled “History Repeating” and investigates how history is reinterpreted by companies and also how it is a reference point for designers. A central concern are re-editions, which are integral for Italian companies. "The re-edition is an invention of the 80s," says Sammicheli. “Among the promoters were the Cassinas, who went to Switzerland to meet Le Corbusier's heirs to purchase the rights to the products. There is the courage of the companies and the innovation that these products have represented is evident, as well as the air of nostalgia. Today everything is regulated through archives, so there is no risk of drifting from the original products, as happened in the past. In any case, it remains a very important item in the commercial catalog, because the public feels more secure when there is legitimacy to the story."
Among the objects chosen by Sammicheli are iconic pieces by designers such as Pietro Chiesa, Gio Ponti, Angelo Mangiarotti, Caccia Dominioni, that the companies have updated to improve their functionality, resistance, and environmental sustainability. Other objects recount the long Brianza tradition in design, such as the 1932 “AA1” sofa bed by Alvar Aalto, produced by Mariano Comense’s company MisuraEmme. Important figures linked to the Como area, a city with a long creative tradition, are also represented, such as Ico Parisi, the Sarfatti family, and the references to Modernism, for example with the Como petrol pumps by Adolfo Franchini.
Numerous re-editions are also exhibited at the Palazzo Montero, by companies including Azucena, with a tribute to Caccia Dominioni, lamps designed by Bobo Piccoli in 1968 for FontanaArte, the Gio Ponti carpet produced by Amini, and vases designed by Gio Ponti for Richard Ginori. The rooms also exhibit editions by Lithos, founded by Alfredo Taroni in 1989 in Como. Since the mid-1990s, thanks to their friendship with Ettore Sottsass, Lithos has created art graphics by designers and artists that highlight the poetic aspects of design, that precede the actual product. There areworks by Sottsass himself, and by Andrea Branzi, Michele De Lucchi, Nathalie du Pasquier, Enzo Cucchi, all with great openness to other disciplines like fine art and poetry.
Palazzo Valli Bruni was also opened to the public for the first time. In its rooms the works of emerging designers are in the and exhibit “20/21”, referring to the 21st century that refers to the 20th with a material, a language, or a particular master. The exhibition has been organized in partnership with Katawiki, and the objects will be auctioned online at the end of the festival. There are several local studios that responded to the organizers' Open Call. For example, Studio Draga Aurel from Como with their pieces inspired by the waters of the lake, and Materica from Mendrisio, with their palace-shaped lamp. Giulia Pivetta worked with the archives of the Triennale to create fabrics for Lanerossi, while studiointervallo created a pocket emptier inspired by Ugo La Pietra. Paulina Herrera Latelier used the Japanese Tatami technique to create wall decorations, while other designers have used local techniques, such as the magnified Cantù lace by Agnese Selva and Bettina Colombo which together form the duo unPizzo.
The Lake Como Design Festival is a wonderful opportunity to have a weekend at the lake while investigating the local history and design scene.