The iconic Milan Design Week aims to promote innovative and radical design trends that fit our modern urban environments and social constructs. The Creative Connections exhibit by Interni did just that. Commemorating the 30th anniversary of the Fuorisalone, the installations unveiled a debate on the link between architecture and contemporary societies. They discuss the role of innovative design in forming a better and more sustainable future.
Paying Tribute to Thirty Years of Innovative Design
We need to venture back to thirty years ago before looking at the Creative Connections exhibit in Milan 2021. In 1990, Interni reached a turning point in design with the birth of an event called Fuorisalone. At the time, the design and architecture showcased here surpassed cultural and societal boundaries. The exhibits proposed new and radical ways of thinking, guiding our societies towards a more sustainable future. Each installation sparked questions, provoked discussion, and inspired creative problem-solving. Being one of the most revolutionary events at the time, the Fuorisalone is responsible for opening the gateways for a period of expansion and experimentation.
The Interni Creative Connections exhibit for the Fuorisalone in Milan 2021 is a collaborative project calling thirty-five international artists to create twenty-one thought-provoking installations. The exhibit pays tribute to thirty years of the Fuorisalone, continuing to push the idea of experimentation in design. Each work looks towards the future, offering innovative solutions to current issues. They focus on sustainability, circular economies, and connecting us with nature. Together, the exhibit celebrates the relationships between the different designers and bridges the gap between their ideas, cultures, and societies.
The Evolution of the Modern Man
Paying tribute to Italian designer Alessandro Mendini is his exhibition titled Mobili per Uomo (“Furnishings for Men”). This exhibition at Creative Connections in Milan 2021 consists of nine oversized items. Each has been selected based on what Mendini ironically considered symbolic of the modern man. They consist of his face, a shoe, a jacket, a glove, a hat, a teacup, a bedside lamp, and a briefcase. All of these objects have in common: their out-of-scale size, each covered in intricate golden mosaic. According to Mendini, this represents the “decomposition, the breaking down, of bourgeois man, a giant character transformed into a collage.” In this way, his design work gets us to question the true identity of the modern man and its evolution. It gets us to see different versions of the modern man across different cultures and societies. The same objects symbolize all, but all are different in their entirety.
Questioning the Survival of Mankind
The survival of humankind itself is the point of discussion for several works. Survival, a project by Stefano Giovannoni, braces this topic precisely. With global warming and the COVID-19 pandemic, can we be sure of our future and the survival of the planet itself? Symbolic of this, the installation depicts a raft on which many creatures sit. It echoes the biblical story of Noah’s Ark and the flood. In this way, it reminds us that the existence of all animals is in the hands of humanity. If humans were not to survive, we would take the entire planet with us.
On a similar thought path is the tower-shaped architecture Condivisione-Connessione-Convivialità by AMDL Circle and Michele De Lucchi. Projecting eight meters into the sky, the steel and translucent paneled trapezium draws viewers’ attention upward. Staring at the point gets humans to question their existence and reflect. Where is our place in tomorrow’s world, if at all? What does our future look like?
Finding Connections & Harmonizing with Nature
Many installations in Creative Connections in Milan 2021 look at questioning and deepening our connections with nature. Using innovative design solutions to work with nature, not against it, could see a brighter future for us all. Vertical Chalets, a project by Peter Pichler Architecture, demonstrates this perfectly. The installation consists of five model chalets. Each is made from wood, with the intelligent second-skin of overlapping slats blocking out the light. This ensures the chalet’s inhabitants have privacy while helping to feel part of the natural world in which we live. It’s a small-scale replication of the Six Senses hospitality project in Austria, allowing guests and nature to be one.
Also linked with nature is the project Bamboo Ring: Weaving a Symphony of Lightness and Form. Within the University of Milan’s courtyard sits the unmissable woven bamboo structure by Kengo Kuma. Its abstract ring-like shape has a futuristic feel. Using a combination of bamboo and carbon fibers, the materials represent the merging of technology with nature. Technology is undoubtedly got its place in our future, and the installation symbolizes a dream of technology and nature working in harmony.
The Importance of Learning in Future Design
Other installations at Creative Connections in Milan 2021 highlight the significance of learning in bettering our future. High Intensity Design Training, a project by NABA, invites us to look back and learn from the past. The installation consists of three metallic pillars and archways – one pink, one yellow, and one blue. Each piece works with the architecture of the Cortile d’Onore, echoing the old columns and vaults of the building. Within the center is an interactive mobile element made from soft foam. In this way, the installation symbolizes the need to keep learning from the past and encourages growth and experimentation. This enables designers to develop more innovative and radical ideas that can truly change the world we live in.
Rather than the past, Plan Bee by Fabio Novembre invites us to learn instead from nature. Beehives inspired his project, made from 22 stacked honey-colored beds. It pays tribute to the hive – the epitome of sustainable living – and celebrates the life and importance of bees. It invites us to learn from these essential creatures and opt for more sustainable lives and stronger communities. Working design to improve our connections with nature and each other can drastically reshape our future.