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ADI Design Museum, the Compasso d'Oro design museum is finally a reality

ADI Design Museum Stained Glass Facade
ADI Design Museum, the Compasso d'Oro design museum is finally a reality it has been modified: 2021-07-02 di Benedict Flowers

The second design museum, L 'ADI Design Museum, Compasso d'Oro museum it is a matter of fact. The official inauguration took place on 25 May in the presence of the MINISTER OF CULTURE, the Hon. DARIO FRANCESCHINI.

Present at the inauguration also il President of the Lombardy Region Attilio Fontana, the Ass. regional culture, Stefano Bruno Galli and the Mayor of Milan Giuseppe Sala and obviously the President of ADI, Luciano Galimberti, and the President of the ADI Foundation, Umberto Cabini, who proudly announced the birth of the new Milanese cultural center.

The Design Museum houses the Compasso d'Oro historical collection - made up of selected objects from 1954 to today - and opens its doors offering the public as many as 8 multi-temporal in-depth exhibitions that are placed in dialogue with the Collection.

ADI Design Museum wants to be, in fact, not only a meeting place for the design community, but also a point of reference for the general public, who will be able to better understand the true meaning and value of design, through the pieces of the collection, the '' innovative format for proposing thematic insights, conferences, workshops for young people and events.

"It's always a day of celebration when a new Museum opens - said Hon. Dario Franceschini, - but after this year, it becomes almost a symbol of restart not only for Milan but for the whole country that has a great need to breathe culture. Today we are here to reaffirm this through this opening. In times of difficulty, Italy has always shown a great ability to react and it will be the same in the near future. "

"Our museum is a virtuous example of collaboration between public and private institutions - said Luciano Galimberti, ADI President - who, in a constructive and concrete dialogue, have been able to combine the importance of the conservation of cultural heritage with that of its enhancement and sharing. A self-generating museum, which will be constantly renewed, but above all which proposes the overcoming of the linear temporal path, flanking it with paths that pose themes, stories, personalities, in a dialectic around contemporaneity. I am proud of this result which was made possible thanks to the commitment and trust of all the shareholders. "

ADI Design Museum is open to the public from Tuesday to Sunday, from 10.30 to 20.00.

Peculiarities of the Museum, the first in Italy, is from not have a physical ticket office: the purchase of tickets can be done through the APP available on the Appstore and Google Play, or through the website and, finally, directly on site through the cultural mediators who will use the appropriate POS.

The Place of the Compasso d'Oro design museum

From horse tram depot to innovative cultural center, a place that becomes a symbol of regeneration and dialogue with the city

ADI Design Museum - Compasso d'Oro was born from recovery of a historic place from the 30s, used both as a depot for horse trams and as an electricity distribution system. The new design museum was conceived with the idea of ​​renewing and enhancing the rich heritage of industrial archeology as a distinctive character of the property itself. It is a structure with a total area of ​​5.135 square meters, divided into spaces for exhibitions, services (cafeteria, bookshop, meeting places), the museum conservatory and offices. Access is from the public square-garden, recently named after the Compasso d'Oro Award.

The project of the new design museum

The draft recovery of the property it was supervised by the architects Giancarlo Perotta and Massimo C. Bodini, while the works were supervised by Carlo Valtolina of the Archemi studio.

The Migliore + Servetto Architects studio with Italo Lupi, on the other hand, are the professionals who, after winning a national competition held in 2013, took care of the design of the historical collection inside the ADI Design Museum, as well as having created the logo and the brand identity.

ADI Design Museum, the permanent exhibitions

The spoon and the city

On the occasion of the opening, ADI Design Museum presents "The spoon and the city", an exhibition curated by Beppe Finessi that explores the Historical Collection of the Compasso d'Oro Award, recognized by the Ministry of Cultural Heritage and Activities as an asset of "exceptional artistic and historical interest"

The exhibition project, which moves through an account of all the editions of the award from 1954 to today, it collects different and complementary materials. The presence of real objects, exhibited through original specimens, is fundamental and essential. The goal of the ADI Design Museum is to tell the story of Italian design showing at the same time other types of documents: the original drawings and the study sketches of the designers, to represent the conception and the first elaboration of the project, but also the executive drawings, carried out within the technical offices, equally fundamental realities for the success of Italian design.

“The spoon and the city” chose to also underline the fundamental role played by Italian magazines. In the course of almost a century of history, there have been several significant publications, which are thus exhibited alongside the awarded objects. Some issues of these publications, with their covers and their punctually dedicated articles, have helped to spread the Compasso d'Oro projects around the world.

The "written word" accompanies the visitor not only in the description of the individual projects, but is itself part of the "visual" story, through a selection of some "author's phrases" by designers and entrepreneurs, and above all by critics: historians, initially coming from the world of art and architecture, intellectuals who have turned their gaze towards design and who were the first to underline the importance of this production area. 

One of the essential components of the design world is the comunication, and for this reason some tools that help dissemination and promotion are exhibited, such as advertising pages and catalogs, always designed by the protagonists of Italian graphics.

In the ADI Design Museum some images taken by great interpreters of photography are treated as obviously exceptional, and therefore exhibited not only as “visual documents”, but as “works” in themselves.

Career Manifesto

ADI Design Museum presents the exhibition “Manifesto to the Career. Tribute of Italian graphics to the Masters of the Compasso d'Oro ", an exhibition project curated by Luca Molinari. Assistant curator and scientific coordination, Maria Antonietta Santangelo - Luca Molinari Studio.

The opening of the new ADI Design Museum becomes an opportunity to celebrate the heritage that generated the world of objects and symbols through which we present today the Italian genius in the fields of design, graphics and architecture. Companies, institutions, authors and products are represented by the 139 Compasso d'Oro Lifetime Achievement Awards, to which this choral narrative refers. The aim is to pay homage to the best names in Italian design of the 900th century and to underline their theoretical, visionary and social action.

The exhibition project tells the Italy of design from a double point of view, transversal and democratic: on the one hand, it honors the history of cultured Italian professionalism and the noblest of design awards. On the other hand, it is an opportunity to fix a virtuous snapshot of the state of the art of contemporary Italian graphics, the result of a curatorial choice that involved the participation of the greatest authors and the names of the ADI Design Index, together with a careful selection of the young generation. Each invited protagonist has elaborated, interpreted and translated a Compasso d'Oro for his career, in absolute freedom of expression, generating a choral and heterogeneous operation composed of drawings, illustrations, collages or typographical posters, where contents and narrative strands are transcribed in a manner faithful to the vision of the reference Compass or reinterpreted and subverted with subtle irony.

The collective celebration of these exceptional talents is further enhanced in the installation project by architect Massimo Curzi for ADI Design Museum who, with the reinterpretation of the tradition of Renaissance libraries, has designed a monumental and at the same time domestic space.

Compasso d'Oro, measuring the world

Adi Design Museum presents the exhibition "Compasso d'Oro, measuring the world", a permanent installation curated and designed by Studio Origoni Steiner and located outside the design museum, opposite the main entrance.

The project offers the visitor a series of images placed on four metal walls that define an exhibition structure with a square base: an eye, the Colosseum, a tadpole, a Stradivarius violin, a cabbage, an oak barrel, an amphora, a star. marina, Botticelli's Venus, a shell, a galaxy, a passion flower, the Mayan pyramids, a cyclone, the Parthenon, the structure of the atom, the bone cells, the human body ...

Among them exists a single common element that the visitor will discover, immersing himself inside the structure, thanks to a geometric design placed on the back of each of the photographic reproductions: the irrational number 1,618…, also called Φ, or golden proportion. 

A relationship connected to the infinite logarithmic spiral, better known as aurea, whose geometric and mathematical properties, as well as its frequent repetition in various natural and cultural contexts apparently not connected to each other, suggest the existence of a mystery at the basis of the creation of the world , of a relationship between macrocosm and microcosm, between universe and nature, between the whole and the part, which is repeated indefinitely.

A proportion also used by Leonardo da Vinci and easily identifiable thanks to a special instrument, the “golden divider”, invented in 1893 by the physicist and painter Adalbert Goeringer. Object that Albe Steiner used in 1954 as a reference for the design of a brand for an award, renaming it "Compasso d'Oro". 

But the genesis of the brand, and therefore the relationship between the Compasso d'Oro and the rest of the images, will be revealed, through a series of photographic reproductions, only at the end of the immersive journey generated by the installation. 

The walls of the structure, seen from the front, produce a particular optical effect that highlights the repetition of the golden rectangles at the base of their composition.

Bìos - Italian Design System

ADI Design Museum presents “Bìos - Sistema Design Italia”, a project by video installation created in collaboration with - Politecnico di Milano Design System and ADI Design Museum.

Design has always had a relational dimension, which has gradually expanded in the form and content of these relationships, its effects on users, its ability to facilitate social interactions and more. ADI is a weaver and activator of these connections and with the Design Index and the Compasso d'Oro Award is able to encourage and represent the systemic and cultural dimension of Italian design.

By analyzing the database of applications for the ADI Design Index (2011-2020), an organic view of the participants in the award, their territorial distribution and the corresponding number of candidate projects is returned. Furthermore, the same candidate projects are represented on the basis of categories of participation, which constitute an interesting element on the basis of which to represent the evolutions and the breadth of the themes that design - to date - includes. 

Finally, the prize winners will be "illuminated". This last visualization will introduce the visit to the design museum.

Design makes history

The video installation, created by OffiCine on the occasion of the inauguration of the ADI Design Museum, is a animation short film which reflects on the close relationship between creativity and history, inserting the creative act in the socio-economic context that generated it. In Italy, in the period from the end of the 20s to the early 50s, although marked by the two world wars, many things happened. Cinecittà was born, the Triennale Exhibition inaugurated, household appliances arrived in Italian homes, fashion took its first steps, there was a boom in transport. 

If we were to rearrange, as in a photo album, the images of those years, we would find ourselves observing a series of large and small events, some apparently ordinary, others incredibly revolutionary. These images, these archive photographs, flow on the screen accompanied by music and a series of sounds that seem to bring them back to life. Above this ideal “canvas” a white line appears: the thought of the designer, of the architect, who transforms and dialogues with events, with changes. And, in doing so, he “plays” with the images of history that flow in the background, interacting with them until they take on the forms that we recognize as iconic of design in those years. The direction of the short film is by Davide Fois and Mattia Colombo, the sound and music by Luca Fois, all protagonists of the OffiCine line-up. 

IED, who signed the video installation, closes the circle of its training courses with the active presence in the project of two of its Alumnae, now professionals in the sector: Rachele Santini, who took care of the creative direction and supervision of the video animation, and Chiara Loiacono, who curated layout artist, character design and animation.

ADI Design Museum, temporary exhibitions

One by one. The species of objects

“One to One” is a historical reflection based on a sequence of “Judicious pairing” of projects who have won the Prize, chosen, combined and displayed side by side, in a sequence of pairs of objects that are the same typologically but different formally, because they were elaborated by different authors and in very distant years. It is a critical reading that tries to investigate the permanence of some "types", some functions, some territories and areas of design, which are found, as constants, over the years of the Compasso d'Oro.

The exhibition project is a way to clearly offer a comparative analysis on recurring models, and to understand immediately, through a direct visual comparison, the specificities and similarities of the different design approaches. An exercise that allows us to grasp the singularities of some types of objects and to identify the differences determined by the different sensitivities of the designers and the evolution of the models, caused by the changing needs and changes in taste over time.

Two table sets, two armchairs, two floor lamps, two desks, two street lamps, two small cars: an exhibition as a sequence of iconic pairs of Italian design, told to underline the evolution of the species of some objects that continue to accompany our lives.

Renata Bonfanti: weaving joy

an exhibition curated by Marco Romanelli with Luca Ladiana and Alessandro Bonfanti, dedicated to the work of the designer, author who is one of the highest examples, and certainly chronologically among the first, of textile designer in Italy.

The exhibition collects a complete choice of works by the Vicenza artist: from the first hand-knotted long-pile rugs, which are strongly influenced by the informal, to the poetic collection algeria, of the late 50s, up to the most recent mechanical loom carpets that will never replace manual weaving but will lucidly and polemically complement it. 

“I have always tried to organize my work so that the two techniques are interchangeable. I believe that an excessive interest in manual production, of an emotional nature, and the a priori rejection of new technologies can hinder research, as it seems absurd to me to expect industrial production to cover all roles ". 

(RB, 1975)

Bonfanti's path is an interesting reference point for Italian design. Among the many variations that the project assumes, in Italy, after World War II, we must admit that weaving is very little practiced and Bonfanti will have to go abroad, in Northern Europe, to complete her training. 

Penalized by a reductive reading to the female, it is difficult to recover examples of textile design in major national and international occasions, such as the Milan Triennials and the Venice Biennials. All the more so, when the work moves away from traditional manufacturing, on a high level, as in the case of Bonfanti, to decisively invade the territories of art. In this sense, Bonfanti is an exception and participates, since the beginning of her activity, in the most important exhibitions and in the Milanese cultural debate.

We can recognize two factors that significantly support the protagonist's work: on the one hand, the unconditional support of a giant of the Italian project, such as Gio Ponti. On the other hand, the custom and the friendship that binds it to Bruno Munari.

A third factor, however, should not be underestimated: the constant and fruitful presence of Bonfanti at the Compasso d'Oro with recommendations in 1956, 1960, 1979 and 1989 and the prize awarded to her in 1962.

Giulio Castelli. The entrepreneurial culture of the design system

On the occasion of the opening of the ADI Design Museum, the ADI - Association for Industrial Design dedicates, to the centenary of the birth, an exhibition homage to the entrepreneur Giulio Castelli, one of the founding fathers of the association itself and its first president. It is a figure whose contribution was fundamental in founding the Italian design system and in giving recognition to the designer's profession. 

The exhibition, not surprisingly located in the area dedicated to the Compassi d'Oro for Career, traces the salient stages of the entrepreneurial life of Giulio Castelli, underlining how there was a continuous relevance to the founding values ​​of the association itself.

Giulio Castelli, chemical engineer and student of Professor Giulio Natta (future Nobel Prize for chemistry), was the founder of Kartell, a leading company in the industrial production of design objects in plastic material. 

Since the beginning of his career, the Milanese entrepreneur has been part of a group of technicians and artists who fought for the affirmation of good design in Italian production. Together with Gillo Dorfles, Ignazio Gardella, Vico Magistretti, Bruno Munari, Angelo Mangiarotti, Marcello Nizzoli, Antonio Pellizzari, Enrico Peressutti, Alberto Rosselli and Albe Steiner, he was a member, in 1956, of the promoting committee of the Association for Industrial Design ADI. However, he undertook the longest working and intellectual partnership with his wife, the architect Anna Castelli Ferrieri. With its proximity to the exponents of the Modern Movement, In fact, Anna brought with her that design culture which later became the backbone of the company. 

The entrepreneurial vision of Giulio Castelli could not ignore the constant commitment made in lay the foundations of industrial design, in writing its vocabulary, in creating its framework and legislation, in promoting it and communicating it so that it could be that shared good that today we call Italian design, or rather design tout court.

Two exhibitions were emblematic of the entrepreneur's philosophy: the first was the historical one Italy: The New Domestic Landscape, at MoMa in 1972, which saw him engaged in the production of installations by Ettore Sottsass jr., Gae Aulenti, Marco Zanuso and Richard Sapper. The second, much less known, was the exhibition The plastic chair. International exhibition, organized by the newborn Centrokappa on the occasion of the XII edition of the Salone del Mobile and set up at the company's headquarters in Binasco. The exhibition brought together 100 chairs, of which only a very few made by Kartell, united by the fact that they are produced with plastic materials. 

A unique event of its kind, which tells us about a man who always looked to the future of the system as one of the key elements of the success of his company.

Among the most important and innovative products by Kartell, remember the round bucket with polyethylene lid by Gino Colombini, with which the company obtained the first Compasso d'Oro Award, and the stackable chair for children by Marco Zanuso and Richard Sapper, the first piece of furniture in the Kartell collection and the first chair in the world produced entirely in plastic. 

Precisely for his "Company policy based on the consistency of the design of its products and on constant research and evolutionary image" the company won the Compasso d'Oro in 1979. 

Giulio Castelli received in 2004 the Ambrogino d'Oro, the highest honor in the city, from Gabriele Albertini, mayor of Milan. He was also awarded the special prize for the 50th anniversary of the Compasso d'Oro ADI Award, such as “Recognition for the tenacity of his work in the historic Association for Industrial Design from 1956, the year of its foundation, to today. A constant and passionate work, conducted together with many others, in the deep conviction that only from the collective work of all the protagonists of the design system could the desire to witness be born in the preservation of the past and in the elaboration of the contents necessary to build the future. The nearly fifty years of history of ADI prove him right ".

Mission that he carried out to the end, as evidenced by the last of his projects, the volume The design factory. Conversations with the protagonists of Italian design, released posthumously in 2007.

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