Luca Cipelletti’s exhibition system for the new Study, Archives and Research Center of the museum in Milan: modular and flexible, it makes 100 years of history an attractive instrument for disseminating design

Three hundred thousand documents: films, images, books, catalogues and correspondence. But also medals, collections of historical and non-historical magazines, authorial record groups donated by designers and artists.

This is the heart of the Triennale di Milano, which since February has re-emerged from the depths of the building to reveal itself, to make itself accessible to the museum’s public.

Cuore - Centro Studi, Archivi, Ricerca is part of an extensive restoration project that, space after space, will bring to light the original 1933 project of the Palazzo della Triennale di Milano designed by Giovanni Muzio. The architect Luca Cipelletti and his studio Ar.ch.it. are in charge of the work.

Let’s start from the name, a wise choice by the Triennale’s president Stefano Boeri (Cuore means “heart”), it draws on a direct, comprehensible and very human imagery to invite the public of the Triennale to a relationship of curious spontaneity with the historical materials preserved in the museum.

It’s a short step from the nomen to the omen, and Cuore is truly an open and organic space, in which the documents no longer look like dusty and incomprehensible relics but become a large book that can be browsed freely.

Luca Cipelletti explains: “The exhibition design was not easy: an archive is a huge and apparently chaotic and unmanageable mass. The design solution was devised by working backwards, setting the quantity of materials to a musical score in which to find an order, a system.”

Cipelletti designed a modular system that makes for great functional freedom in its rigorous simplicity. There is the memory of musical mathematics, of the stave and the intellectual artifice that organizes the creative impetus of tons of documentary apparatus.

“Instead of designing a display system that was tied to a collection, we opted for a flexible system that could change over time. We started with modular vertical elements that relate to the original structural ceiling beams designed by Hoffmann, with a system of uprights that adapts to the different dimensions of each beam.

In this work, UniFor was the super partner with which we designed every single module, in order to hierarchize the archive into its different categories.

The overall impression is that you are faced with a series of elevators that go up and down to enable the documents to be rotated cyclically. To fix the concept of modularity even in the presence of non-uniform sizes, we invented a device based on the technical assembly elements that solves the problem of the dimensions and at the same time gives visual breadth to the sequence of shelving.”

The basic idea of the Triennale is to use Cuore as a space not just to display the archive and make it accessible, but also to create sections for deeper study during the individual exhibitions scheduled.

The concept of the encyclopedia returns, with its ease of consultation which, concretely, takes multiple and imperatively flexible forms.

Cipelletti continues: “This is a space that has an openly educational objective, intended to spread the culture of design. The LED walls on the partition opposite the archive space have the task of immersing visitors in the richness of the Triennale’s one hundred years of history.

But I see that people of all ages are attracted to physical documentary material, intrigued by the possibility of alighting like butterflies on the hundreds of documents that the exhibition system offers, so that they can be read, consulted or simply the subject of a quick visual consultation.”

Cover photo: at the entrance to the Triennale, between the museum and the study centre, the seated woman statue by Mario Sironi and Leone Lodi, designed in 1933 for the V Triennale of Milan, has found a permanent location. Ph. Delfino Sisto Legnani