Brera Design District is a project of Studiolabo and it's a part of the Milano Design Network

Editorial Brera Design District 2014

Starting over from Brera

di Paolo Ferrarini

What if we start again from the beginning? Why not reduce everything to zero and go back to the origins?

It’s not a bad idea from time to time to stop, take a nice deep breath, sit down with someone who knows more than we do, feel a bit ignorant and open to discovery, like our first day at school. For example, we could ask ourselves, what is design?

The “Design Lessons”, the beating heart of Brera Design District’s fifth edition, are a fine opportunity to do this. The theme “Be district: creating connections, communicating innovation” distances us from the risk of losing our memory of what we have learnt over the years (a ctrl+alt+delete-all is a risk that no one can afford to take), re-launching knowledge on the level of a network of relationships and notions. No significant project is born by itself; a design cannot come into being without a sharing of ideas and practices (and this emerged clearly last year, when the theme was “Craft making and Industrial thinking”), just as there is no innovation without serious participation in knowledge.

What is happening in Milan this week is the essence of design, which is manifested through the representation of the project, the greatest celebration of thought, starting from objects to aim at behaviour. We often complain that the Exhibition Hall now is too remote from objects (furniture items are hardly to be seen) and that it centres too much on events. In any case this is the greatest concentration of creativity in the world, where every form of design finds its place: from “things” to images, from short-lived outfits to lasting art, from music to food. And all this is design, all this is planning.

Memory counts in the search for innovation. At Brera this year the preservation of the past is guaranteed by AIS/Design, with the proposal for a series of initiatives that can be linked to the past without having us sink into nostalgia, which would be the true enemy of any step forward. With this outlook, strong in the undoubted power of the video as a means for communicating memory, the appointment with the Rai Educational video-documentaries, “History of Italian design, Design Lessons”, appears as an unmissable moment in this Milanese week. And let us not forget the contribution of the Milan Design Film Festival, which will entertain and inform us by telling of the creativity that we know or that we will shortly know. But the past is not only in the video and we can see it, magnificent and majestic, in the images of the “Factory Portraits” by Gabriele Basilico on the premises of the Milan Province Ordine degli Architetti (Institute of Architects).

Ambra Medda, who will this year be receiving the Design Lessons prize, embodies the most promising present day of design, with her activities ranging from editorship to commerce, increasingly seen as a harmonious combination of the factors that bring about the success of any design of value.

The contemporary nature of the design is well narrated also by the work of Aldo Cibic and Giulio Iacchetti, who have a strong presence in the district, as interpreters not only of Italian thought, but also of Italian creation. A further form of creation we find in the pictures by Patrizia Scarzella; with her “Women’s Hands” reportage she witnesses the work carried out in Thailand, Kenya and the Philippines to provide women in difficulty with a means of personal and social liberation, precisely through design.

A promising look at the future comes from “Design Lessons for Kids”, with Appartamento Lago and the course of High Training in Toy Design from Poli.Design: will it be up to children to suggest the road we are to take? They will certainly appreciate “Robot Therapy: Adopt a Robot” at the Mediateca Santa Teresa, where we will all try to imagine robotics in our daily life, away from industry and the glances of makers and nerds. Not robotics, but the magnificent mechanics of Ducati, will be arriving for the first time at the Fuorisalone and will be admired for their ability to make even a cold piece of metal sensual and desirable. The projection on the future, that of the young designers, will also be provided by Lexus, who will be showing the world their Design Amazing 2014 in the marvellous setting of the Circolo Filologico. Speaking of vision, why has no one yet created an open source kitchen? But Valcucine has thought about it, with a design as open as it is unusual.

In the week when design takes a nice “selfie”, we can’t be short of a story. This is told by Unofficial Report, which will be gathering the testimonies of enthusiasts and operators, transforming them into a further exhibit. But the self-photo is something we too can do, perhaps at the Martini Racing Lounge, the temporary district bar set up in the Santa Teresa Mediateca.

So let us sit down and start again from Brera this year, from a familiar place, full of history, which in these days will be filling up with all kinds of things that we still do not expect. In search of the innovation that will shape our daily lives: true design.


Mediateca di Santa Teresa
Via Moscova, 28

Mediateca di Santa Teresa
Via Moscova, 28
Brera Real Estate