Dezeen Magazine

Church with modern furniture

Desacralized features pieces by Rick Owens and Faina in Milanese church

Design gallery Galerie Philia's has curated the Desacralized exhibition inside an 11th-century church featuring works by American designer Rick Owens and Ukrainian studio Faina for Milan design week.

For this year's design week, the international gallery installed sculptures, furniture and lighting design pieces in San Vittore e 40 Martiri – a deconsecrated church in Milan.

Strand-light chandelier hung from the ceiling of a Milanese church
Galerie Philia organised Descralized in an 11th-century church in Milan

Since the 18th century, the neo-Roman structure has served as a community centre with Galerie Philia's Desacralized the "first major exhibition" in the space.

The exhibition includes commissioned pieces by 20 international designers that were asked to depict their "personal interpretation of the notion of desacralisation".

White chair with moose antler
The works include Rick Owen's white chair with an arm made from moose antler

"Objects bear witness to the past – they carry memories and their function is defined by the era in which they were created," said Galerie Philia founder Ygaël Attali.

"Sacred objects have all these qualities but they also transcend their physicality to achieve a spiritual and symbolic value."

Hexagonal table with stone top and marble sculptural candelabra on terrazzo flooring
Studiopepe produced the Origo low table while Andrés Monnier created a marble take on a candelabra

The commissioned works were arrayed around the time-worn structure, hung from the ceiling and set directly on its multi-coloured terrazzo flooring.

Works were also placed along the edges in front of small alcoves.

Minimalist white chair partly in shadow with beam of light
Chinese studio Kar created a special edition of a chair from the Oracle Bone Script series

At the centre of the exhibition is a massive chandelier by local design duo Morghen Studio called Cascades of Light, which aims to "transcend and sublime the iconic significance of the historic chandelier".

Morghen Studio's work hangs near a concept chair  by American fashion designer Owens, which is a variation on the designer's Tomb chair line that utilises moose antlers and minimal shapes.

Punched sculpted white stool
Faina created a stool from its signature Zista material

Also included in the lineup is Mexican designer Andrés Monnier, who created an interpretation of a candelabra using a circle of stepped marble pillars, each of which holds a candle.

Monnier was part of a dual exhibition with Argentinian artist Pilar Zeta at Galerie Philia's Mexico City outpost in February.

Studio Henry Wilson created The Pagoda lamp

Other lighting works include a white ceramic and plaster floor lamp in the shape of seashells – an "omnipresent motif" in Christian iconography – by French designer Elsa Foulon; and The Pagoda lamp by Australia-based Studio Henry Wilson, informed by Japanese temples.

Faina designed the Duzhyi stool, which was hand-sculpted from their trademark material called Zista made from paper, clay, hay and "other organic elements".

Other chairs and stools include Chinese design studio Kar's chair, a special edition from the Bone Script series made from wood and Chinese lacquer.

While Italian-American designer Pietro Franceschini created the Trinity coffee table and local studio Studiopepe's contributed an architectural low table called Origo.

White lamps with fresco in the background
Elsa Foulon based her design on seashells for their ubiquity in Christian iconography

Belgians Pierre de Valck and Arno Declercq each contributed pieces to the exhibition, with Declercq using white in one of his tables for the first time in his work, which sits directly under Morghen Studio's chandelier.

The photography is by Maison Mouton Noir.

Desacralized is open from 18-23 April as part of Milan design week. See our Milan design week 2023 guide on Dezeen Events Guide for information about the many other exhibitions, exhibitions and talks taking place throughout the week.

More images

Galerie Philia Desacralized
Ravine Coffee Table By Draga & Aurel
Fountain sculpture
Fountain by Pierre de Valck
Sculpture with metal fins
Rick owens bone chair
Desacralized Galerie Philia
Desacralized Galerie Philia
Desacralized Galerie Philia