Аn exploration of hope and imagining of future from new perspectives. After a year of absence, the aficionados of good design can rejoice as IRL fairs are taking place worldwide, spreading a message of positivity and excitement about the times ahead.
Presenting the crème de la crème of design, Milan Design Week, Venice Architecture Biennale, and London Design Festival are the go-to destinations for innovative ideas and diverse creativity in Europe. Offering so much for so little time (except the biennale, which runs for six months), experiencing everything is almost impossible. As it can be easy to feel overwhelmed, we have rounded up the must-see exhibitions to satisfy your planning needs in the run-up to the exciting cultural events happening all over Europe this summer and fall.
MILAN DESIGN WEEK
Milan Design Week is undoubtedly the best place for furniture, art and design, and a unique way to discover today’s design panorama. Taking place from September 5-10, the event encompasses the programs of Salone del Mobile (which is presenting a new fair concept called ‘Supersalone’ and curated by the architect Stefano Boeri), as well as a series of events distributed across Milan.
Each spring, Salone del Mobile welcomes interior designers, architects, buyers and design enthusiasts, presenting the best the world of interior design has to offer from the past 18 months. In its first edition since pausing in 2019, it returns with a special new concept, Supersalone, and a careful selection that prioritizes quality. It is also the first time the event will be open to the public and not just professionals. With a focus on sustainability, the exhibition is staged as a “library of design”, with a flexible walls instead of stands, offering different display opportunities for the leading companies in the sector - all installations will be recycled after the show.
Enriched with a daily programme of live events and a digital platform for buying furniture, the show has a lot to offer to the curious mind.
Take Your Seat – Solitude and
Conviviality of the Chair
Left, ‘Luisa’ by Franco Albini (1955).
Right, ‘K 1340’ by Marco Zanuso and Richard Sapper for Kartell (1964)
‘Take Your Seat – Solitude and Conviviality of the Chair’ is an exhibition staged throughout the fair’s halls, showcasing is a retrospective of over a hundred iconic chairs by Italian designers – from the likes of Gae Aulenti to Gio Ponti.
Once you’ve had your fair share of the furniture world of the fairground, take a stroll through the city for a dose of contemporary design. Once you are there wondering where to start - here are our firm favourites.
Alcova, the platform for independent design, developed by Space Caviar and Studio Vedet, has selected a formal military hospital near the Inganni metro station, as the chosen space to exhibit independent designers, innovative brands, galleries, cultural institutions and companies.
Set up in Piazza San Fedele, near Duomo, the inflatable Super Pratone by Gufran is impossible to miss. The giant temporary sculpture is the Italian’s brand way to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Ceretti, Derossi and Rosso-designed icon. Strictly green, like the original.
Who the Bær
© Andrea Rossetti
The Berlin-based, British-Japanese artist Simon Fujiwara is presenting a new site-specific installation at Fondazione Prada until 27 September, utilizing a cartoon bear named Who, which appears within collages, drawings, mixed-media sculptures, and stop-motion animations.
Enzo Mari Curated By Hans Ulrich Obrist
With Francesca Giacomelli
© Gianluca Di Ioia
Triennale Milano hosts one of the most anticipated exhibitions of the year - Enzo Mari Curated By Hans Ulrich Obrist With Francesca Giacomelli. The retrospective examines over 60 years of activity of one of Italy’s greatest masters and theorists of design and comprises projects, models, drawings, and materials, many of which have never been shown before. Apart from the historical selection, the show also consists of a series of contributions from international artists and designers - Tacita Dean, Mimmo Jodice, Dozie Kanu, Adrian Paci, Barbara Stauffacher Solomon, Rirkrit Tiravanija, Danh Vō, and Virgil Abloh for the merchandising project – who have been invited to pay tribute to Mari in their own way.
Venice Architecture Biennale
May 22 - November 21
After a year’s delay, the Venice Biennale of Architecture opened on May 22, comprising a central international exhibition featuring 112 participants from 46 countries, 61 national pavilions, and 17 collateral events.
The main agenda of the Architecture Biennale is to propose and showcase architectural solutions to contemporary societal, humanistic, and technological issues. This year the International exhibition, which is held every other year on even years in Venice, Italy, is titled “How will we live together?” and is curated by the Lebanese architect Hashim Sarkis, dean of the School of Architecture and Planning at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Here is a round-up of some of the happenings at the biennale that caught our eyes and minds.
“The Garden of Privatised Delights”
Manijeh Verghese and Madeleine Kessler, founders of Unscene Architecture, curated the installation that multiple themed rooms, recreating privatized public spaces, including high streets, pubs and green spaces. As the organizers explained, the exhibition “calls for new models of privately owned public space in cities across the U.K. It challenges the polarisation of private and public, which often leads to divisions within society.”
Spanish Pavilion, “Uncertainty”
Crafted from thousands of sheets of paper, generated from various architecture projects, the installation at the Spanish pavilion represents a “cloud” of paperwork, suspended in the air. The papers are answers to the question of the biennale, “a repository of strategies for our living together—an inexhaustible source of Uncertainties that works as a database for the rest of the pavilion.”
“Museo Aero Solar For an Aerocene Era”
“Museo Aero Solar For an Aerocene Era” is a flying sustainable sculpture made from thousands of used plastic bags. The inflatable installation can rise into the air without the use of fossil fuels and is designed by the artist Tomás Saraceno in collaboration with meteorology researchers at MIT.
Superflux, “Refuge for Resurgence”
Imagining a future that is “more than human”, where wildlife has reclaimed our cities, the Anglo-Indian studio Superflux invites 12 different species to a dinner. Humans, reptiles, farm animals, birds, and even insects are all welcomed around a specially designed dinner table – “a symbolic home where all species can prosper with resilience, adaptation, and hope”.
LONDON DESIGN FESTIVAL
September 18 - 26
Started in 2003, London Design Festival celebrates and promotes London as the design capital of the world. This month, it returns for its 19th edition with a programme of more than 200 online and offline events, exploring design thinking in the challenge of climate change. They are split across then Design Districts, including Brompton, Clerkenwell, Design District at Greenwich, Peninsula, Islington, Kings Cross, Mayfair, Park Royal, Shoreditch Design Triangle, Southwark South, and William Morris Design Line. There will be many fascinating happenings but here are the two we are most excited about.
Concept drawing for ‘Medusa’ by SFAP Sou Fujimoto Atelier Paris, produced by Tin Drum and presented
by London Design Festival at the Victoria & Albert Museum, September 2021
The core of the festival is the “Landmark Projects”. These are large scale design/architectural installations, and this year they include ‘Medusa’ – a mixed reality project by Japanese architect Sou Fujimoto and mixed reality studio Tin Drum staged at the V&A’s Raphael Court. The installation examines structure, nature and visualisation, through elements of light, sound, nature and architecture.
Between Forests and Skies
‘Between Forests and Skies’ by Nebbia Works
Emerging architecture practice Nebbia Works creates a low-carbon aluminium pavilion using a minimal amount of material that will appear to float in the pond of the V&A’s John Madejski Garden. The exhibit is meant to draw attention to the importance of sustainably produced aluminium, and to emphasize aluminium’s versatile and unique qualities.