Experience, uniqueness of the place and curation are the ingredients of the independent and collectible design events that guide design addicts towards unusual destinations

Ancient cloisters of Neapolitan convents, historic hotels with an artisanal flavor in the heart of the Engadine, fascinating relics of Lombard industrial archeology are among the unique and highly contextualized places of events on collectible, independent or small series design which, more and more frequently , invite visitors to move from the environments most characterized by design and contemporary art.

Even with precise distinctions in the objectives and selection of exhibitors, events such as Nomad, Edit, Lake Como Design Festival and Alcova – this year relocated to two of the most beautiful historic buildings in Varedo (Monza Brianza) – focus on creating an experience.

Read also: What we saw at Nomad St. Moritz 2024

Read also: Alcova 2024 moves to Varedo, outside Milan: Valentina Ciuffi and Joseph Grima explain why

The success of such events depends on a difficult alchemy between curation, selected visitors and participating local population, calendar, location and relative accessibility.

Nicolas Bellavance-Lecompte, co-founder of the gallery Carwan and by Nomad, format specific for collectible design galleries, and Giovanna Massoni, for the second time curator of the Contemporary Design Selection at Lake Como Design Festival 2024, an event spread across the city's historic places, with exhibitions and installations of independent and small-scale design series.

Read also: Lake Como Design Festival 2024: dates, theme and new locations

Why is the choice of location fundamental in these exhibition formats?

“Because”, explains Bellavance-Lecompte, “we want to generate an intimate experience within a special architectural context that is usually not accessible, creating a dialogue between art, design and architecture.

Nomad maintains a human scale (no more than 40 exhibitors) and aims for the surprise effect: the destination changes often to nourish the idea of a unique and unrepeatable moment".

“The patrimonial context”, adds Massoni, “the beauty of places that are difficult to access, the counterpoint of the exhibitions and, perhaps, even the distance play an unequivocal role in the success and media appeal of these initiatives.

It plays on the exclusive experience, more or less accessible, built thanks to refined branding operations".

The term branding is not a coincidence: both Alcova and Nomad are a format that, finding the right location, can be anywhere. In December 2023 Alcova landed in Miami, while Nomad also takes place in Capri and it is not excluded that it will be organized in the States in the coming years.

What has changed most in recent years and what type of audience are these events attracting?

“On the one hand” continues Massoni, “these initiatives are proposed as complementary containers and probably necessary within a cartography increasingly congested with events and trade fair itineraries.

Decentralizing, breathing in culture at high altitude or walking among natural beauty and architecture of the past is certainly healthy.

Furthermore, the product conveyed (artisanal artefacts and self-productions, collectibles or editorial design) denotes the need for uniqueness and a different and certainly broader cultural audience, which goes beyond sector professionals and buyers".

Our target is collectors”, explains Bellavance-Lecompte: “those who are looking for a more exclusive experience and who have grown tired of large formats such as fairs. At Nomad there is a dialogue between visitors and gallery owners that lasts for several days, aided precisely by conceiving the event as a destination".

Have the great events come to an end?

"It's not really like that, because there continue to be more and more large events in the world – Design Miami debuts in Los Angeles in May –. Perhaps what matters most isthe project underlying the event: the clarity of the curation , objectives and positioning with respect to a defined and identifiable audience. And above all the ability to stand out as a unique and niche reality".