“If you have a library and a garden, you lack for nothing”, used to say Cicero. In via Brera 28 both these dreams come true. Here you have the splendid Biblioteca Braidense rich in books and history. And the garden, a botanical garden, the Orto Botanico, which is probably still little known and appreciated by the Milanese and tourists.

The press conference held on Tuesday, 28th April, provided an occasion to present the exhibition “The Garden of Wonders”, but also to announce the important donation that Yelena Baturina – through the Be Open Foundation – made to Orto Botanico di Brera and that includes the project of a “Vasca dei Pensieri” (Basin of Thoughts) designed by the Polytechnic School of Milan, that will be built starting from next autumn. A large platform will be made available to visitors and placed in the western area of the garden, where they will sit and enjoy the new wooded area.

The Garden of Wonders is a journey between design and excellence of small producers: research work on scents and perfumes focuses on the values of heritage from small-sized companies. After a welcome speech by Martin Kater, director of the Orto Botanico, by Gennady Terebkov, Be Open director, and by Gilda Bojardi, chief editor of the magazine Interni, Philippe Daverio talked with the creators of these installations that speak about perfume – an ancient and valuable product – meeting with the creative strength of design.

Architect Ferruccio Laviani, who was in charge of the general staging, turned a few simple greenhouses provided by Unopiù into something magic, in which eight designers (Tord Boontje, i fratelli Campana, Dimorestudio, Front, Jaime Hayon, Lissoni Associati, Jean-Marie Massaud and Nendo) developed the theme of scents.

Some start from flowers – and there are plenty in the botanical garden – and others from artifice. Gérald Ghislein, olfactory curator, selected essences and developed, together with Elena Vosnaki, perfume history curator, a section devoted to the history of perfume, A Journey Through Scents, that develops into 12 steps.

Finally, ten designers (Werner Aisslinger, Analogia Project, Philippe Bestenheider, GamFratesi, LucidiPevere, Karim Mekhtigian, Mist‐o, Ludovica and Roberto Palomba, Thukral&Tagra and Victor Vasilev) created the bottles that will contain perfume in the future: A Vision in a Box offers a setting full of imagination with projects that are both innovative and traditional.

The Garden of Wonders is an exhibition – event which started during the Design Week and will be open until 24th May, thus overlapping with the month when Expo Milano 2015 opens its doors. This is a project that, according to Cristina Tajani, council member for work policies, economic development, university and research, is one of the strengths of the “Expo in Città” program, a joint project launched by the Municipality of Milan and the Chamber of Commerce on the occasion of the Universal Exhibition in Milan.

Milan is about to enter Expo and its international dimension. For six months the main city of the Lombardy region will be the capital of the world and it will prove to have always been a fertile place for creative processes, declared Filippo Del Corno, council member for culture. He also mentioned the great example of Leonardo who turned this city into a workshop of ideas and a production centre.

The same creativity that “planted” its scents and perfumes in the Garden of Wonders in the Orto Botanico di Brera.


Text by Danilo Signorello – photos by Efrem Raimondi