Marco Sammicheli talks about the new layout of the Italian Design Museum at the Triennale: "I want to guarantee an education in ergonomic, aesthetic and cultural quality"

One Hundred Years of the Triennale and the Museo del Design 2023 exhibition aims to tell the story of design from the 1920s to today, attempting a continuous dialogue between memory and the contemporary .

An ambitious task that the director of the Marco Sammicheli Museum solves with a popular passion, as a great lover of design and its history. We asked him how he managed to find a common thread to build a narrative that everyone could understand.

Sammicheli has a clear mission: to give the public the opportunity to better understand design.

From the 1920s to today, one hundred years of design in one exhibition. What criteria did you follow to select the exhibited works?

Marco Sammicheli: “Celebrating the anniversary of the Triennale means imagining a museum that covers a time span from its origins to the present.

The backbone is the culture of interior design, the true generative vein of Italian design.

In proto-industrial times, design is in the hands of architects, who design unique pieces, sartorial solutions, environments imagined in every detail. A typicality of our culture that can be part of that love for beauty that distinguishes us.

Design begins when architects deliver the project to serial production. Beauty becomes collective".

The route begins by crossing a portal bearing a clearly anti-fascist poster by Albe and Lica Steiner, which opens onto an Italian square which welcomes projects with a DNA linked to the architecture of transport and construction.

This is followed by six rooms that develop a historical path, from the 1920s to the 1960s.

I decided to rebuild a garage which naturally houses a Lambretta, a Vespa and a Cinquecento. A bathroom by Pozzi Ginori designed by Antonia Campi. Three interiors from archival research work: Casa Minerbi by Piero Bottoni, Casa Manusardi by Figini and Pollini, Casa Albonico by Carlo Mollino. The study of graphic designer Walter Ballmer. An office of Tomas Maldonado, Ettore Sottsass and Mario Tchou at the time of Olivetti.

The wonder of a systemic design emerges, son of the love for detail and not necessarily of the passion for objects.

It's clear, and that's exactly what I want to underline in the exhibition, that design is in everyday life, in everyday life. And it affects us all.

We arrive at the contemporary passing through a corridor where we decided to propose maps made for articles and research by the masters of Italian to summarize how the project was changing from the 1970s onwards.

The path leads to a large ziggurat that stages the avant-gardes of the eighties, with the first projects by Piero Lissoni, Ferruccio Laviani, Ingo Maurer.

There is all the technological advance of the nineties, which configures a constellation of designers capable of becoming the real engine of innovation.

Finally there is the new Design Platform, dedicated to contemporary design. An exhibition area in which we will organize monographic and thematic exhibitions to explore some specific aspects of the project. Let's start with Text, which tells the common attitude of stylists and designers towards the design of text, interfaces and fabrics".

From which brief does the exhibition layout curated by Paolo Giacomazzi start?

Marco Sammicheli: “Paolo Giacomazzi was asked to weave together all the objects present in a story that shakes the defined paradigms of living. The goal is to bring an idea of everyday design closer, which becomes present even to those who are not professionals.

The care in the texts disengages from the technical jargon. Whether we are talking about Alessandro Mendini or Coccoina, the narrative apparatus is extremely present.

There is the possibility of interacting with a series of works that help the visitor understand the meaning of material culture in our country.

The obsession with shapes, volumes and colors of objects that may seem prosaic but express an attachment, a functional power and a necessity that is transfigured in art. And a natural inclination to return to universal, ever-current themes.

The home/office proximity, the memory, the nostalgia of the immigrant for his native country, as in the sculpture by Harry Bertoia which produces the sound of the wind, the tears of the migrant".

How is memory narrated?

Marco Sammicheli: “We have a relationship with tradition that oscillates between protection and destruction; it is a burden and a great love.

Memory is told the moment you manage to recognize that a personal memory is a collective heritage. The intuition of the passage from the personal to the universal.

What is exhibited in the museum was born in a design studio in which someone wondered: how do I support that behavior?

So the experience of the individual becomes the experience of all. Yet the modern, the marvel of change is the normality of Milan, a karst river that has deeply engraved its culture".

What is his concrete objective as art director of the Triennale Design Museum?
Marco Sammicheli: “Transferring knowledge and giving up something to synthesize a message that the public can understand.

As far as I'm concerned, it's about understanding that what exists in the pages of a book cannot exist in its entirety in a museum. The sketch, the mould, the prototype, the finished object, the packaging: in my opinion this value chain creates a large cognitive footprint for an audience that doesn't have all the tools.

I give up some of these stages and tell him: take a few paragraphs of this story with you. I want to guarantee the visitor an education in ergonomic, aesthetic and cultural quality. A quality that reverberates in a whole series of details that you can learn to recognize by visiting the Museum".

Cover photo: Max Huber, Albe Steiner. 8 Triennale di Milano 1947, Manifesto ufficiale © Triennale Milano