From 23 to 26 May at the Milano Certosa District and the ADI Design Museum. More events, meetings, concerts and talks in a four-day agenda spread throughout the city narrated by director Francesco Dondina

Why a Grafica Biennale in Milan? We asked its director, Francesco Dondina.

It has long been a point of reference for the world of communication, interested above all in that aspect of graphics that becomes ethical in the message and in the intelligent and challenging way of presenting it. His idea, after the fully successful edition of the Milano Graphic Festival 2022, is to transform the event into a cultural reflection dedicated above all to the urgencies of the contemporary: artificial intelligence, social stability, sustainability, inclusion, migration and defense of minorities.

The program ranges widely from historical experiences (Bob Noorda, Grafico metropolitano, at the Certosa District) to the niche exhibition that opens up to unknown worlds thanks to the transversal gaze of Luca Barcellona (A Visual Sound. A journey through sound libraries LP cover design).

Between the two poles there are studio visits, talks, exhibitions, meetings and social projects. The complete program here, a beautiful site that makes you understand why the graphics always speak loud and clear exactly the language of the contemporary.

From Festival to Biennale: why was BIG born and how does it change?

Francesco Dondina: "BIG was born from the experience of the Milano Graphic Festival launched in 2022 and presents itself as a more structured and dynamic event and with a international profile characterized by the presence of numerous foreign guests, furthermore, it becomes a biennial event (hence the new name) to guarantee more careful planning of contents and to have time to monitor what is happening in the world within the visualdesign.

We would like BIG to become a permanent observatory on communication design not only in Italy".

The Signs exhibition at the Certosa District seems to be the key event, the starting point for exploring the Biennale. What will visitors see and what was the starting point of the curation work?

Francesco Dondina: “Signs, Contemporary Italian Graphics reaches its third edition and continues to be a project much appreciated by designers and the public. The format is immediate and is received well by both professionals and the general public. It is about presenting from time to time some of the excellencies of Italian visual design to enhance their qualities and to show the many souls of a constantly evolving profession.

The selection criterion of designers, studios or collectives is based primarily on the value, not only aesthetic, of the projects. I would say that I am interested in differences in training, origin and professional field.

They range from the most established designers to talented young people. Each selected person is assigned a table on which artefacts and products are arranged which the public can touch and browse through".

Graphics as a profession, but also graphics as a cultural environment and ethical commitment. Why is this important?

Francesco Dondina: “In the history of graphic design there are emblematic examples that tell the cultural, ethical and civil dimension that this profession can take on.

I would like to recall the programmatic manifesto published by Ken Garland in 1964 entitled First Things First and signed by more than 400 graphic designers and artists. It was an extraordinary initiative undertaken against the mass consumer culture of the 1960s and against the pervasive and unscrupulous language of commercial advertisements.

Coming to Italy, between the Seventies and Eighties a path was developed called Public Utility Graphics which sanctioned the virtuous relationship between designers and local public administrations to raise awareness among public opinion and citizens on issues of common interest such as the environment, health, safety, transport.

Nowadays I am increasingly convinced that every designer should give maximum attention to the interests of the community and that even in the commercial field an attitude of ethical responsibility towards the well-being of citizens/consumers and the environment".

Transversality of events and, above all, a great plurality of voices. How can I find my way around the program?

Francesco Dondina: “The BIG program offers a wide variety of proposals: historical exhibitions, contemporary exhibitions, talks, presentations, workshops, studio visits. The suggestion I can give is to study the talk schedule carefully and on the basis of that plan visits to the exhibitions in the remaining time. The offer is wide, there is something for all tastes."

Among the protagonists of BIG: Franco Achilli, Silvana Amato, Luca Barcellona, ​​Francesca Bazzurro, Ruedi Baur, Stefano Cipolla, James Clough, Ben Ditto, Anna Dusi, Andrej Krátky, Matteo Bologna, Laura Bortoloni / Ida Studio, Cappelli Identity Design, Andrea Fabrizii, Emilio Fioravanti, Fabrizio Falcone, Cinzia Ferrara, Federica Fragapane, Francesco Franchi, Beppe Giacobbe, Valentina Grilli, Gaetano Grizzanti, Alice Guarnieri, jekyll & hyde, LS Graphic Design, Marta Sironi, Luciana Meazza, Sergio Menichelli, Armando Milani, Maurizio Milani, Multiplo, Laura Moretti, Sina Otto – Monotype, Carla Palladino, Massimo Pitis, Quattrolinee, Nicolas Rouvière, Maia Sambonet and Claude Marzotto / studio òbelo , Guido Scarabottolo, Rainer Scheichelbauer, Carlo Stanga, Quattrolinee, Michele Tranquillini, Tomo Tomo, Susanna Vallebona / Esseblu, VZN Studio, Francesca Zoboli.