Why is it really worth seeing the exhibition "Gianfranco Frattini, yesterday, today, tomorrow" in the frescoed rooms of the noble floor of Palazzo Arese Borromeo, in Cesano Maderno (MB)

Extended until May 21st, the Gianfranco Frattini, yesterday, today, tomorrow jewel-exhibition in Cesano Maderno is one of the most interesting legacies of the FuoriSalone 2023 because it teaches us many things about design. Starting with his name.

There was a period, in fact, and not too distant, in which design was not yet called that and those who designed furniture and objects for the home were not labeled as designers. And there is a territory of Italy, from Milan to Brianza, where it all began, thanks to the favorable meeting between architects, expert craftsmen and enlightened entrepreneurs.

It is precisely here that the creativity of architect Gianfranco Frattini comes to light again and his works, from interior designs to original pieces from private collections up to current re-editions, can be admired in a continuous dialogue with the 17th-century frescoes in the halls of Palazzo Arese Borromeo.

The set-up, in perfect balance between intriguing, inviting the eye to linger on the details and continually marveling at the splendid architecture around, is the work of the architect Emanuela Frattini, daughter of the master .

“It's always difficult to describe a close person - explains Emanuela Frattini - and in my case it's also difficult to separate the person I knew from his or her profession.

My memory of my father has always been that of an architect and it coincided with seeing him invariably with a pencil in his hand, absorbed by his work.

He educated us, my brother Marco and me, through his choices and the objects he surrounded himself with, and therefore also surrounded us, a sense of beauty that derived from an intellectual coherence which I only understood later. He had nothing to do with what we mean by luxury."

The exhibition itinerary follows a ring pattern, starting with a first elongated room where a continuous overview of the objects designed by Frattini is proposed, ashtrays, trays, containers for ice cubes, frames: "Papà he took care of every detail - says Marco Frattini - for him even the back of a frame had to be aesthetically pleasing".

The second, majestic room was originally the hall dedicated to receptions in the palace, so much so that on two facing walls you can see two small balconies facing the centre, which were used by the musicians of the time.

Here you can indulge yourself in listing the years of production of the numerous upholstered furniture designed by Frattini for companies such as Cassina, Ceccotti, Poltrona Frau and Turkeys.

There are pieces that are no longer produced, others still in production and various re-editions, in particular by a large American company, CB2, which has a great passion for Italian design and in particular for the works of Frattini.

Continuing the path, you cross the room dedicated to lamps and fabrics, among these, with the contribution of Emanuela Frattini, a reinterpretation of her father's canons was born, also proposed in the textile doors strong> created by Dooor and Torri Lana.

Immediately afterwards, one is greeted by a surprise, the original desk by Pierluigi Ghianda, an exceptional cabinetmaker who has become a close friend of Frattini.

"The collaboration with the manual part of his work was fundamental - writes Emanuela Frattini - He used to say that 'as a designer I was born in the workshop': and from these collaborations, which led him to spend a lot of time in the and in the Brianza factories, his deepest friendships were born, first of all the one with Pierluigi Ghianda, who had become the brother my father did not have, and with whom he made one of his most admired pieces: the Kyoto table produced by Poltrona Frau.”

The exhibition continues with a series of original sketches and technical drawings of the architect's projects, from which his remarkable dexterity is perceived.

Not for nothing, a student of Gio Ponti at the Polytechnic of Milan, he was noticed and invited to work in his studio even before graduating.

Almost at the end of the exhibition path, you notice a yellow construction helmet, which seems to be leaning on a chest of drawers almost by chance. In reality it was Frattini's first encounter with plastics: the helmet project had been entrusted to him by Montecatini in 1963.

In the video accompanying the exhibition, Frattini himself recounts how difficult that project was for him, first of all due to the novelty of the material to be treated and then due to its use which required maximum attention to the issue of safety.

The value of this exhibition is the possibility of taking home, in addition to an overview of the work of one of the representatives of early Italian design, something that has perhaps been lost in the evolution of the sector. Or at least it has changed.

That is, an attitude towards design that arose from one's experience and creativity, but also from relationships with other professionals, from respect for material used and its natural characteristics and the ability to give birth to the shapes of objects from their structure, without the need to add decorative excesses.

This, I believe, is the secret of those who design with a farsighted eye, detached from the need to respond to the fashions of the moment.

Emanuela Frattini writes: “Educated at the school of rationalism of the Polytechnic, a pupil of Portaluppi and Ponti, who welcomes him as a collaborator in his studio while still a student, and of whom he always remembered with affected by profound humanity, intelligence and generosity, he had a functional approach to the project, in the case of a product first addressing its required performance and filtering the solutions through his convictions.

His has been a very personal professional journey.

Following his evolution through the study of his projects, a sense of measure remains constant, which has never changed over the decades of his career, as well as a detachment from the predominant trends that influence him only marginally.”