A museum in its origins is a “place devoted to muses”, the nine goddesses protecting arts and sciences. Founded as a cultural institution to foster relations between applied arts, industry and society, and assembling under one roof the various languages of culture and modern creativity (architecture, design, visual arts, photography, fashion, performances, theatre, music), the Milan Triennial may well be one of the few museums around the world that is worthy of the name, most especially as it is not dedicated to just one of those nine muses.
The Triennial was founded in Monza in 1923 before moving to its current home in the Palazzo dell’Arte in Milan in 1933, becoming the new European model for an exhibition hall. At the heart of an experiment intertwining culture, architecture and design, the Triennial is home to a multitude of cultural expression and a laboratory in which applied arts and industry maintain a constant dialogue. The result: design leapt out of project offices, firstly into our day-to-day objects before then becoming a part of the urban fabric around us. At its core is the idea of a diffuse quality of life, both public and private.
The ground floor of the Palazzo dell’Arte is home to the Italian Design Museum, exhibiting some 200 iconic pieces (a selection of the 1600 from the Triennial Collection) that represent the aesthetic and material revolution in design undergone by ordinary objects from 1946 to 1981 – changes in materials, conception and, on occasion, function.
The minimalist display emphasises the objects and the materials (photographs, advertising campaigns, original packaging) used in conjunction with them from the get-go. And the Triennial marches on with temporary exhibitions highlighting different concepts. This is what it was born to do. Most recently inaugurated is Broken Nature: Design Takes on Human Survival. Taking “restorative design” as its starting point, the aim is to examine the ties that bind humans and nature, ties that have been significantly affected over the years where they have not been wholly destroyed. The intention is to have design at the core of considerations about the future, aiming to understand the interlinked world in which we live, inspiring us to adopt a long-term outlook and suggesting to visitors ways in which we can refashion our ties with nature.
Inspired by the substance of a project that unifies different disciplines, for which reason the Triennial was founded close on 100 years ago, Broken Nature is a celebration of the revolutionary power of the imagination and invention to return what has been taken from Mother Nature over the years, and particularly in recent decades.
Valentina Monti / Photo itm.srl x Kemon