Dezeen promotion: Italian office furniture manufacturer UniFor has collaborated with Israeli designer Ron Gilad to create an installation that imagines Napoleon reading a giant book at this year's Milan design week.
The multimedia installation for UniFor is located in the plaza at the historical and cultural venue of Palazzo di Brera at Via Brera 28 in Milan, home to well-known institutions such as the Academy of Fine Arts and the Pinacoteca di Brera.
Gilad has placed a giant replica of the UniFor 50th anniversary book, which has been positioned in front of a bronze statue of Napoleon by 18th century Italian sculptor Antonio Canova to make it appear as if he is reading the book.
Inside the book is a multimedia screen that shows a video staring Empress Joséphine Bonaparte, the first wife of Napoleon, who can be seen turning the pages of the book for her former husband – a "symbolic and humorous action that presents the real content of UniFor's book to the audience".
"If we consider that the National Braidense Library – described by 17th century Archduchess of Austria Maria Theresa as 'an open library for the common use of anyone who wants to cultivate his mind, and acquire new knowledge' – is hosted in Palazzo di Brera, what could be a better place to present alongside the book of UniFor?" said Gilad.
The Pinacoteca di Brera is the main public gallery for paintings in Milan, Italy. It contains one of the foremost collections of Italian paintings, an outgrowth of the cultural program of the Brera Academy, which shares the site in the Palazzo Brera.
The installation at Pinacoteca di Brera is part of UniFor's 50th anniversary celebrations, which will also see the company host an extension of the installation at its showroom in Corso Matteotti 14, Milan.
Gilad aimed to find an artistic way of displaying highlighted products from both the past and the present of UniFor at the extended installation.
The installation begins with DCA, a double glazed glass partition system by David Chipperfield for UniFor, which Gilad used to create a cubicle to represent its intended purpose as a silent room for an office.
The designer then filled this with more "artistic" elements such as the Elements03 table by Foster +Partners and Jean Nouvel's Less Less totems, behind which is a video wall featuring a projection of a modern interpretation of the famous Last Supper fresco painting by Leonardo da Vinvi.
A half hour performance will also be taking place every hour inside this glass cubicle, where drama students at the Fine Arts Academy of Brera will visualise the last supper scene inside an office environment.
A self-contained mobile workstation, called Touch Down, will also be displayed as part of the installation.
To coincide with its anniversary, UniFor will also be launching a book that looks back on five key decades in the history of Italian design, and its own historic journey. Edited by Fulvio Irace and published by Skira, the new book also boasts graphics by Pierluigi Cerri.
Find out more about UniFor on its website.