It is the first district of the FuoriSalone, the most historic and also the most quick-change: we are talking about the area Tortona, the destination synonymous with experimentation, unconventional proposals, an inclusive and democratic place, created to raise awareness of design as a tool to improve life, involving people of all ages, abilities, genders and cultures.
Here, forty years ago, the journalist-editors Flavio Lucchini and Gisella Borioli created Superstudio 13, a hub of thirteen photographic studios and services for the fashion, joined in 2000 by Superstudio Più, thus giving life to the Tortona district.
Read also: Tortona: birth and transformation of the first design district
Once united under a single umbrella, the Tortona district over the years has split up to be, today, represented by three distinct realities, independent of each other and also not very interacting, as Gisella Borioli admits: Superstudio Più with Superdesign Show, Base and Tortona rocks and Tortona Design week.
From the Asian R-Evolution by Superstudio Più to the led phrases by Claire Fontaine for Base, up to the lottery by Paola Navone in Tortona rocks that invites us to reuse, here are the novelties of the Tortona area, from 17 to 23 April, which make this district in constant transformation an unmissable stop at the FuoriSalone in Milan, a design district which, like an organism, grows and expands, incorporating ever new districts year after year.
Superdesign Show 2023: Inspiration-Innovation-Imagination
From 18 to 23 April (with a preview for the press on the 17th) the Superdesign Show returns to Superstudio Più, in via Tortona 27 (free admission but with compulsory registration on the website www.superdesignshow.com).
A project by Gisella Borioli with the artistic direction of Giulio Cappellini which this year revolves around the common thread Inspiration-Innovation-Imagination.
A macro-theme that ranges from research on sustainable and reused materials to avatars, from new talents to the metaverse, to investigate where design is heading, and how houses, ways of living, architecture in the age of artificial intelligence, augmented reality and humanoid robots.
Among the new features: the Virtual Pavilion, a space that adds a virtual version to the physical experience that can be visited remotely, with any device. We are catapulted into the metaverse by the students of Istituto Marangoni - the School of Design, who accompany us on an immaterial journey by letting us try the 'tactile' experience with technological fingertips.
The Asians are back, protagonists of the large Asian R-Evolution section: to attract attention, in the entrance to the main hall, Fabric Light Andon, four large sculptural and curvilinear objects by the Japanese Gpj × Yutaka, a new lighting system made of aluminum and fabric using Onefabrica technology.
And again: China with Grado Design, the Indonesians of Jakarta Tourism and Creative Economy Office, Jakarta Capital City Government, Indonesian Contemporary Art and Design; the Japanese of Forum8 with an installation dedicated to VR technology, the quantum with made in Japan lighting, the Tokyo Creative Salon festival and the furnishing fabrics of Kawashima Selkon Textiles; from Thailand, Slowhand Design Thailand by DITP, while Korea is represented by the Seoul Design Foundation.
Another important trend is the research of materials, with Materially, which proposes sustainable and recovery solutions, with a magical and interactive installation.
Curious and surprising, the Unexpected Objects section, an eclectic and non-trivial review of objects and furnishings that intercepts the aesthetic change in design.
Superstudio Più, like every year, supports female creativity in the Women&Design section, and promotes young talents in Stars Of Today curated by Giulio Cappellini, with the participation of Leonardo Talarico, Elena Salmistraro, Francesca Lanzavecchia, Ilaria Marelli, Matteo Agati, Sergio Prieto, Daniel Nikolovski, Francesco Forcellini, Antonio Facco, Keiji Takeuchi.
The Imagination, which with Inspiration-Innovation forms the triad of this year's theme, finds space in the proposals straddling art, from 'cartoon-rabbits' by the Japanese artist Aki Kuroda for Slide to Tecnolite switches for Meljac, transformed by the architect Dante Benini into small golden sculptures.
Base: inclusion, diversity, equity and accessibility
Base is also back, from 18 to 23 April (the 17th press preview) in via Bergognone 34 (free admission), with We Will Design, an experimental laboratory that works all year round with residencies and international exchanges.
This year's theme is We have an I.D.E.A., an acronym for Inclusion, Diversity, Equity and Accessibility, with the participation of creatives, schools, universities, institutions.
The goal is to activate a reflection on the concept of democratic, plural and inclusive design, capable of involving people of all ages, abilities, genders and cultures.
Base Design Week in points:
- In the ground hall at the entrance there will be a large installation by Claire Fontaine, with led phrases that activate questions rather than deliver answers
- We Will Design 2023 is Temporary Home. exhibit. Kids. Music.
Temporary Home: five women designers and artists from France, England, Holland, Greece, Germany transform casaBase, Base's guest house, into a multifunctional place, a temporary home, a place for experimentation, a space for presentation and interaction with the public.
Exhibit: a research platform that brings together Italian and international projects and installations on themes and challenges of our time curated by universities, such as the Design School of the Milan Polytechnic, Université Jean Monnet Saint-Étienne, Manchester School of Art, Tecnológico de Monterrey, together with multidisciplinary collectives, designers and young talents, and the projects resulting from the Base residences.
We Will Design – Kids: moments suitable for children to give even the youngest children the opportunity to approach the world of design.
We Will Design Music – Warm Up: a musical schedule, already started on March 15, live from the Volvo Studio Milano, which will culminate with two special evenings in collaboration with Le Cannibale.
Tortona rocks: reusing is better than buying
How do you take care of tomorrow? With this question, addressed to all, Tortona rocks returns from April 17 to 23, one of the three ribs of the Tortona district, which has its epicenter in the Opificio 31, in via Tortona 31, and in other offices in the district, in via Tortona, via Savona and via Bergognone.
Tortona Rocks, through a rich multidisciplinary program, talks about design as a lever to encourage alternative lifestyles in response to contemporary crises and emergencies, primarily the climatic one.
The big news from Tortona rocks is the launch of the first edition of the Elsewhere project, an urban incursion that goes beyond the confines of the Tortona area, to allow design to reach alternative everyday places to the usual exhibition layouts of the FuoriSalone, starting from the Giambellino district.
Among the highlights of this edition, Ikea (Visconti Pavilion – via Tortona 27), celebrates its eightieth anniversary with Assembling the Future Together, a journey that traces the various decades of life of the Swedish brand born in 1943 through a selection of the most famous products, with a space entirely dedicated to the Life at Home Report, the annual study with which Ikea investigates how one lives at home. Special guest: the American photographer Anne Leibovitz who collaborated with Ikea for the Life at Home Report; moreover, the entertainment evenings return with evening performances of electronic music.
Archiproducts Milano (Opificio 31, in via Tortona 31), presents Terra, the project by Studiopepe, a dreamlike space, complete with a suspended moon, which will transport us to the center of the Universe, to reconnect with the Planet and nature.
Finally, Paola Navone promises to amaze with the bizarre Take it or leave it lottery (Opificio31, via Tortona 31), organized by The Slowdown: a draw, during the design week, of a hundred objects more expensive than the Turin designer, from the ancient metal spoons from India to her rare prototypes for Alessi, up to the precious German porcelain, an upcycling initiative that reaffirms the importance of reusing, instead of to continue producing and throwing objects into a submerged society (to participate in the draw, you will have to book your turn on https://www.slowdown.tv).
Also worth mentioning is the Cesvi exhibition with the photographer Fabrizio Spucches and Milano Space Makers, a social reflection that overturns the point of view of the concept at home, staging the destruction of the living space due to natural events, such as earthquakes, climatic emergencies, or war, emphasizing that the home is not a place of protection and care for everyone.
Not to be missed, Unwanted Furniture – 2 (via Tortona 5), the second chapter of the initiative by OpenDot and Amsa – Gruppo A2A, to raise citizens' awareness of the reuse of old, broken or obsolete furnishings. This time OpenDot made an open call and involved ten under 30 designers who live in Milan, inviting them to recover ten pieces of furniture, one each, following the virtuous guidelines drawn up last year. Through Stooping Milano, the Instagram account that facilitates the exchange of disused furniture and furnishings, each designer, with the support of the OpenDot makers, will have to renew an abandoned object with its aesthetics and adopting a circular strategy, transforming it from waste to be disposed of as a product of desire, to extend the life cycle of the furnishings.
See also: “Unwanted furniture!”, long live furniture with OpenDot and Amsa
Finally, space for young people with the one&twenty contest of the German Design Council, which rewards 21 emerging designers from academies around the world , and with the ToyotaLogisticDesign Competition, aimed at students and recent graduates.
Article being updated
Tortona Design Week: the future to share
Among the realities that make up the multifaceted puzzle of Tortona, there is also Tortona Design Week (www.tortonadesignweek.com), which returns from 17 to 23 April with the theme Future to share, writing the future under the banner of sharing and inclusiveness, enhancing technology, self-production, circularity and sustainable urban manufacturing.
This year the event will see the participation of Tcl, Nardi, Ikea, Lexus, Yoox, Delta Light, Decor Lab, Lechler, Festool, Triumph Design, Officina 14, Hochschule für Gestaltung Offenbach am Main, The Keio University Graduate School of Sdm, Freehand Furniture Co., Noroo Group, Anguleris, Ilca, nhow Milano and Zip Zone Events, with installations, exhibitions, events, but also workshops and training meetings aimed at the public.
Cover Photo: Milano Design Week 2023, Superdesign Show © Giovanni Cappelini