With its five permanent and three temporary exhibitions, the ADI Design Museum - which opened yesterday, after a long gestation, with an exhibition curated by Beppe Finessi - is a place that, as expected, puts objects at the center. But also, unlike other design museums where the amarcord approach and the tendency to glorify the author's icon is in force, dreams of transforming them into stories of contemporary relevance.
In fact, in his chronological path, thematic stories intersect: a double register that is immediately evident thanks to a “talking” staging by Migliore-Servetto and Italo Lupi (who also took care of the graphics). The huge entrance hall welcomes the visitor with a series of "stations" organized along the entire perimeter in a temporal succession. Each station presents a variable number of objects - those that, in the 26 editions of the Compasso d'Oro, have won the prize - associated with elements that illustrate their development: drawings, advertising images, design tools and many beautiful phrases written by critics and journalists of all ages. An enormous work of study, collection and selection, for which the curator Finessi has amply thanked Matteo Pirola and his team.
For some objects, spotlight areas have been provided, with larger spaces while, in the center of the entrance hall, the storytelling modality changes. Here, around and above a huge plinth, objects belonging to the same typology but made in different eras and by different hands have been juxtaposed. It is theUno a Uno thematic area, to which Beppe Finessi has also dedicated a book. An interesting approach because, thanks to direct visual comparison, it immediately shows the evolution of feeling, the impact of technology on the project, the impact of the study of materials. As Finessi says in his book: it is a "teaching to know how to see".
What makes the ADI Design Museum special compared to other museums of its kind?
First of all, its positioning as a place primarily for professionals. In an era in which the struggle to have an appeal to the general public is almost an obsession, the ADI Design Museum says without fear of preferring knowledge sharing to social media, the in-depth study of issues that are related to heart to those who already know design with respect to the blockbuster exhibition. Which is undoubtedly the best way to be successful in the universe of those who love the project (a not so small audience, as Finessi recalled at the press conference: "100 thousand people in Milan alone").
The other distinctive element is the desire not to put anything on the pedestal (neither the objects nor their authors) but to do everything possible to explain design as a choral discipline, a summa made up of many parts all equally significant. This is the message that emerges from the chronological path (where space is given to the role of technical offices, manufacturing workers, communicators, photographers ...) but also from the choice to talk about entrepreneurs and companies through dedicated temporary exhibitions (at the moment on Giulio Castelli, with Olivetti to follow). A museum like this, whose collection was born from the encounter between design and companies, could not fail to underline the key role that the latter have had, and hopefully continue to have, in the development of design innovation that has made us famous in the world.
The third point to underline has to do with the museum's intention to become a place for discussion on contemporary issues, read through the lens of the project. "We started from an idea of urban generation, of a square that is the stage for ideas, those proposed and those still to be proposed," said Luciano Galimberti. This obviously means speaking to the public. Do not show “old objects” but propose them through always different gazes, those of the curators who will take turns in the creation of his stage. The promise, therefore, is to give Milan a self-generative museum (because it will always feed on the Compasso d'Oro collection) but not self-celebrating. "At the ADI Design Museum we want to do research, participate in the discussion on the contribution that design can make to address the problems of the country and the people, putting the project community at the center," said director Andrea Cancellato.
The museum is undoubtedly a must for design lovers. A place to visit with care, whose merit is the exhibition archiving and the seriousness of intent. In each station, in fact, not only an aesthetic pleasantness of the ensemble is perceived (with some more difficulties in the more contemporary section) but above all an enormous and almost obstinate research on the context: attentive, thoughtful and full of affection for the projects and who made them possible. The study islands are a pleasant departure from the chronological path and speak clearly of the museum's vocation as a temple of design knowledge: a real plus for enthusiasts.
But is it a museum for everyone?
"Here we speak strictly Milanese", said a designer (winner of the Compasso d'Oro), actually answering 'no' to this question. And, in fact, in several situations it is not very clear why an object represents something important in the history of the project. That is, because he won the Compasso d'Oro. A lack (long-standing, which has already been discussed here) perhaps due to space problems, but which does not affect the pleasantness and relevance of the whole.