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Museo del Design Italiano 2023 reopened exhibition

Triennale Milano brings together iconic works of Italian design at Museo del Design Italiano

The Triennale Milano has reopened its permanent exhibition the Museo del Design Italiano, featuring key works of Italian design alongside new objects and immersive interiors, during Milan design week.

First opened in 2019, the Museo del Design Italiano presents significant and influential works of Italian design collected by the Triennale Milano since the founding of the institution 100 years ago.

To coincide with the art and design museum's centenary celebrations, the exhibition has been reimagined by its new director Marco Sammicheli, who said he has aimed to tell the story of 100 years "in which new materials, new techniques and new aesthetic codes have revolutionised both the home and society".

Photo of the Museo del Design Italiano showing furniture display in the foreground and a recreated interior installation in the background
The Museo del Design Italiano has reopened with a new exhibition curated by director Marco Sammicheli

Two changes are most visible in the Curva, the curved gallery space on the ground floor of the Palazzo dell'Arte that is home to the Museo del Design Italiano, which features the exhibition designed by Paolo Giacomazzi Design Studio.

First, installations that recreate real interior environments are now interspersed through the gallery, and second, a new display area called the Design Platform ends the exhibition with a contemporary focus.

The installations are meant to illustrate some of the most significant cultural changes that have involved Milan and Italy, and to add depth by breaking out of the exhibition's otherwise chronological structure.

Photo of an interior installation showing a creative office environment in graphic red, black, white and grey at the Museo del Design Italiano
One of the key additions is installations that capture six real and significant interior settings

They include the professional studio of Swiss-born, Milan-residing mid-century graphic designer Walter Ballmer, a new acquisition that illuminates the contribution of a foreigner who had a strong connection to the city.

"We did not want to construct a path that was just chronological," Sammicheli told Dezeen.

"Instead we took into consideration the generative logic of interiors. The exhibits are not merely linked to each other chronologically, but they build a narration though six different environments, where interiors build a more vertical insight into the history of Italian design."

Photo of the Museo del Design Italiano exhibition showing wooden furniture in the foreground, objects in display cases in the middle ground and an interior installation in the background
The recreations of interior environments are meant to immerse audiences in the real lives and impacts of Italian design

He also said the approach would invite audiences to go beyond the typical reactions of "I like it/I don't like it".

"Rather, it is inviting people to have a more participatory and open approach," he said. "They help visitors consider design as a tangible discipline, accessible to everyone, made of actual people and lifetime stories."

Sammicheli's second key intervention was to introduce the Design Platform, located at the end of the Curva and dedicated to temporary displays focusing on new developments in design.

The first exhibit in this space, Text, runs from 15 April to 17 September, 2023, and looks at approaches by stylists and designers when creating texts, interfaces and fabrics.

Photo of the Text temporary exhibition at the Museo del Design Italiano
The Text temporary display is located at the end of the exhibition

Works on display come from designers including Giorgio Armani, Humberto and Fernando Campana, Vico Magistretti, Ottavio Missoni and Gaetano Pesce, with three commissions coming from Lupo Borgonovo, Pierre Charpin and Henrik Tjaerby.

"The main goal of this project is to intend the contemporary as a part of a general discourse, and not as something separate, combining thematic or monographic exhibitions with the history of our institution," said Sammicheli.

Overall, the reimagined Museo del Design Italiano features more than 300 works, either drawn from the Triennale's own 1,600-strong collection or on loan from private collections.

Among the new acquisitions on display are Lambretta E 125 and Vespa 125 Mod.51 scooters, which join the existing Fiat 500 car and according to Sammicheli, speak of the economic boom that followed the war and allowed the public's new-found purchasing power to drive the creation of many colourful new lifestyle objects.

Photo of the Museo del Design Italiano permanent exhibition showing chairs arranged on plinths of different heights and posters framed on the wall in the background
There are more than 300 objects on display spanning a 100-year history

The new graphic works include 1956 and 1960 Olympics posters by Franco Rondinelli and Armando Testa, and the furniture includes Cesare Leonardi's 1983 Sedia chair from the Solidi series, which Sammicheli says embodies a moment in time when designers overcame the form/function dichotomy and "entrusted the object with a comforting power made of large volumes, graphic textures, and cultural provocations".

Sammicheli was appointed the director of the Museo del Design in 2020 and is also the Triennale's curator of Design, Fashion and Crafts.

Headed up by architect Stefano Boeri, the Triennale Milano was founded in 1923 and is well known for the International Exhibition it hosts every three years. Other sections of the museum also hold key interiors installations, including a living area of a Milanese apartment designed by Memphis Group founder Ettore Sottsass.

An exhibition focused on the varied works of Italian architect and designer Angelo Mangiarotti is also currently on show at Triennale Milano.

Photography is by Agnese Bedini of DSL Studio.

Milan design week 2023

The Museo del Design Milano reopening is part of Milan design week 2023, which takes place from 18 to 23 April. See our Milan design week 2023 guide on Dezeen Events Guide for information about other exhibitions, installations and talks taking place throughout the week.

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