Tucked inside an industrial location was U-Joints exhibition, a spectacular trip in the realm of technical joints, curated by Anniina Koivu and Andrea Caputo. Some centuries-old, including historic examples of knots and wooden joints, some even coming from Chinese temples. Hundreds of different joints, made from different materials, to fulfill different functions in different eras had the stage at the exhibition created by PlusDesign Gallery in collaboration with Juventus. Among the modern joints were those developed by fifty contemporary designers, including the Bouroullecs, Martino Gamper, Max Lamb and Jasper Morrison. On show not only models, but prototypes and finished joints too. Dozens of examples of anonymously designed common joints, which were developed for mass-manufacture and used in scaffolding, plumbing, ships or aircraft. To complete the fresco, a 40 meter-long Taxonomy of Joints was compiled by master’s students in product design at the ECAL design school in Lausanne.

Sony Design

A synesthetic exhibition presented by the design center of Sony Design and dedicated to the rediscovery of the senses through endless interactions with everyday objects, transformed into sophisticated endless gaming opportunities and spells. A good journey to redefine ultra-technology as no longer scary. The Milan Design Award Best Playfulness 2018 even prized the Hidden Senses show, which included five rooms, each a different case study: moving from one to the other, for the hidden senses to be are gradually revealed. A light wall reacted to movement, detected distance and responded with a simple effect of light and shadow, colors and forms. In an age where we are often overwhelmed by information, ´Hidden Senses´ propose a more practical and minimalist way of communicating. Objects placed on a table can be used as an intuitive physical interface. Daily information can be received without having to use a smartphone or a tablet. The manipulation of everyday objects has the ability to create new interfaces for new lifestyles.

Alcova Nolo

Joseph Grima as a curator and Space Caviar and Studio Vedèt as exhibition producer. Alcova was a cluster of design exhibitions in a magnificent yet derelict ex Panettone factory in the Turro district of Milan, multicultural and multi-ethnic neighborhood, for several years has become a true epicenter of creativity. Canteen Curriculum, an experiment in cooking and eating pasta as a catalyst for debate curated by Tamar Shafrir and Martina Muzi for Het Nieuwe Instituut in Rotterdam, was part of the Alcova cluster of shows. Participants included also experimental  collectives  such  as  Better  Known  As,  established  names  as  Gijs  Bakker,  and  designers  working  with  materials  research such as Buro Belén, practices  working  with  the  Italian  tradition  of  craftsmanship  such  as  Bloc  Studios  and  Architetti  Artigiani  Anonimi.  Work  presented  included also studios  conducting  research  into  anonymous design such as Nanban. 

COS x Phillip K. Smith III

COS hosted a celebration of Open Sky, the brand´s collaboration with californian artist Phillip K.Smith III. In the stunning historical frame of Palazzo Isimbardi the gigantic piece by Phillip K.Smith III made a statement about the relationship between light, architecture, space and urban ambient. The off scale sculptural installation was conceived site specific for the palazzo, and defined through a six months long research and direct study of the light and proportions. Inspired by the sky above the Palazzo courtyard and the architecture of Milan, the installation offered an abstracted vision of light, reflection and personal presence in space. As the artist says, “I wanted to pull the sky to the ground to make it physically present. The square of the sky above the courtyard can be morphed into a semi-circular form to confront, follow, dialogue with the ever moving eyes of the visitors”. A serene landscape of reflective surfaces which provided a moment of blissful rest in the frenzy of the design week. 

Lina Bo Bardi at Nilufar Depot

´Lina Bo Bardi e Giancarlo Palanti: Studio d’Arte Palma, 1948-1951´ was the precious exhibition produced by Nilufar Gallery in collaboration with Instituto Bardi / Casa de Vidro. This resulted as the first exhibition about the work of the two Italo- Brazilian designers, investigating their extraordinary original projects. On a trip to Brazil five years ago, Nina Yashar owner of Nilufar Gallery was taken on a tour of buildings designed by the great Italian-born architect Lina Bo Bardi (1914-1992) in São Paulo. Bo Bardi’s sensuous, humanistic and sustainable approach to architecture and design fascinated her, so that she started amassing a significant collection of furniture designed by Lina Bo Bardi and her friend, collaborator and compatriot often overlooked, the rationalist architect Giancarlo Palanti. Nilufar Depot presented, in a stunning installation by Space Caviar, the result of the extensive research conducted by Nina Yashar on Lina Bo Bardi. 

Stanze Sospese

Design and aesthetic solutions can bring dignity to all and allow the use of environments and spaces designed to serve diversity and inclusion. From a fruitful workshop experience, the design of the exhibition ´Stanze sospese´ has been developed to evoke places like jails, where life is apparently frozen waiting for a second chance and a social redemption. A multidisciplinary team of designers, the Allianz Umana Mente Foundation, the 5vie Association and the Polo Formativo Legno Arredo Rosario Messina launched the FurnitureforAll! Project to transform places of isolation into theaters of dignity. This project originated from the desire to use design as a tool for inclusive projects, hoping that children should never remain in traditional prisons with their mothers. The goal is to rethink and realize, thanks to the work of social carpentry, a modular furniture system in recycled plastic able to improve the housing conditions of those who, underage or not, are forced to live in contexts of rehab or imprisonment.

The exhibition in a dilapidated cellar wanted to offer the visitor an educational path within the reproduction of two detention and recovery rooms - one of the Opera prison (outskirts of Milan) and one of an Institute with attenuated custody for detained mothers (ICAM). Since the theme of the project is based on the concept of transformation of waste into a resource, the team decided to use recycled plastic as the raw material, offered by the company Revet Recycling and engineered by Idea Plast. 


Lensvelt for ´Nothing New´

Burstling, vibrant yet also somewhat alienating and uneasy spot to visit: Museo Diocesano (museum of the Milanese church) as being taken over by Lensvelt. The Dutch furniture label followed the concept of curator Anne van der Zwaag, in collaboration with stylist and art director Maarten Spruyt. An anti-statement against the endless buying of new items that we do not need, while trillions of existing furniture are still in perfect condition and use. For ´Nothing New´ exhibition, Lensvelt has decided to buy back a selection of his company’s ubiquitous desks and office chairs on the Dutch second-hand trading website Marktplaats, Ebay and 1st Dibs, blending them with Lensvelt own showroom items. The courtyard and halls of Museo Diocesano were transformed into an open-air installation where products were presented in an otherworldly setting combined with art world-renowned artists like Joep van Lieshout, Felix Burger and Christaan Zwanniken. “Just like in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s, the world nowadays is highly political and moving very quickly. Nothing New is the perfect antidote to the all the empty Salone del Mobile that feature little more than perfect still lives of perfect products” say the curators. 

Villa Borsani

The Archivio Osvaldo Borsani has invited Ambra Medda to curate a special preview of the up-and-coming exhibition about visionary figure of Italian twentieth-century design. During the days of Salone there was the unprecedented chance for the international design community to glimpse the private world of his Villa outside the city of Milan. Villa Borsani: Casa Libera! was a celebration of a modernist jewel and a joyous rediscovery of a place suspended in time. Within the larger setting of Varedo, Ambra created through subtle and specific interventions including fragrance, flowers, and sound, a vacant space with youthful energy. The Villa which has been unoccupied for nearly a decade has been brought to life through surprising yet considered elements. Ambra has collaborated with Auckland-based creatives including artist Harry Were, florist Sophie Wolanski, and the multi-talented stylist Katie Lockhart, to imbue the still house with vibrancy and soulfulness. This extraordinary residence set within 3,000 square meters of gardens that feature ivy-covered pergolas, encouraged to enjoy the unique opportunity to experience design history, to spend time in the space, to browse highlights from the archive. Following Salone, the Villa is now open by appointment only until 15 September.