The narration of things has always accompanied their design and production. What has changed radically in recent times are the means available to create and spread it. So no longer ‘just’ exhibitions and books, but also podcasts, videos, digital projects. In this sense, the first distinction to be taken into account in designing a narrative does not seem to be so much space, whether material or immaterial, but rather time.
With postmodernity and the advent of the mass media, in fact, we are witnessing the affirmation of knowledge that is disclosed with times that are as fast as those of a commercial or an advertising jingle and the work assimilates the narrative methods of the goods. Design, being by its nature intimately connected to practicality of use, is a field of extreme interest in the narrative of everyday life, direct and fast: objects can be the trojan horses of a thought that quickly penetrates our lives, leading to confidential gesture of use a deeper and more aware meaning.
The crucial point lies in the time to devote to decoding this message. For this reason, the multiplication and speed of communication tools can now be answered with design strategies aimed at exploiting their respective potentials.
Already the avant-gardes have taught us to think of books – a true ‘eternal’ medium – as projects of multiple uses over different times, using graphics and images (quick observation) and text (slower reading). Precisely for this reason, in the Manual of History of Design, written together with Vanni Pasca, we have articulated the text according to three speeds: captions and titles, which accompany the rapid movement of the images; the actual narration with its reading times; finally, the thematic boxes and notes, which experience the slow time of in-depth reflection of the study.
A narrative challenge is now posed by the medium of social networks, which, outside the only playful-exhibitionist dimension, turn out to be extremely effective digital architectures in conveying the story of things, as long as they are ‘designed’.
Last summer the experience of MAXXI Casa Mondo – the first digital exhibition of the National Museum of XXI Century Arts – was a confirmation of this. On the one hand, the ‘architectural’ nature of Instagram was identified by the digital fitters, the Formafantasma studio, as an ensemble that, thanks to its grid representation of punctual interventions such as daily posts, could perfectly correspond to the transfer of contents: the quick ones of the images and the more specialized and slow ones of the text, all articulated in the development of the feed/home construction.
The contents themselves were thus articulated in a series of historical cases, which we have chosen with Elena Tinacci among the most suitable in telling the transformation of the pre and post pandemic domestic space, and the unpublished projects made on commission by a stellar team of contemporary designers (Bêka & Lemoine, Campana, Faustino, Fujimoto, Grcic, Guixé, Urquiola).
The enthusiastic and generous support of the latter was yet another sign of the fact that today authors not only manage the means as they are delivered to average users, but are ready to reread them with the eyes of those who design. Because to manage such a vehicle with an innovative vision it is not necessary to be a programmer or have specialized technical knowledge, but to have something far less common and more valuable, which has always made the difference: ideas.