Just some thoughts on the eleventh edition of the Triennale Design Museum. With a premise: before giving any judgment, it would be better to visit it, as the images and stories spread everywhere can not fully explain the research behind this eleventh edition.

First of all, the title: : “Storie. Il design italiano” (Stories. Italian design). Sedimented and spread over the years, the culture of the project has been transformed into a “culture of the product”. With the conviction (unfortunately widespread) that a product can speak for itself, can sell itself, can be presented free of all that is around a product. The President of the Triennale, Stefano Boeri, during the press conference highlighted how the history of Italian design is an interweaving of stories: designers and visionary entrepreneurs, who together have developed revolutionary products. These could be joined by equally visionary retailers; and the decisive role played by communication, whose segment in the exhibition/museum could also have been expanded, should not be overlooked. The proliferation of magazines on analysis, criticism, proposing design-oriented products to the general public has contributed a great deal to spreading the new culture, making it a global phenomenon.


Triennale Design Museum, 11th edition.

Yet history, in that exhibition, reads little. It is true that there is a section where the communication is illustrated, and a section – very interesting – with the figures, but, so organized and broken up, it is not perceived by the public. It’s nice that the Soft Big Easy, designed by Ron Arad and manufactured by Moroso is one of the icons of Italian design, but if an exhibition is called “Stories”, perhaps it would have been nice to see a history. The story of a metal prototype forged in a blacksmith workshop in London, with Patrizia Moroso going to London and looking for it, convincing her brother to make a prototype, and then put it in his catalog, investing time, money and taking a risk. Know how many have sold, and how much it has meant, in terms of real turnover and image return, for the company. How much it took to find the right equipment, how much it took to invest in communication to bring it to market, and even how long it took. Industry experts and insiders, when they see icons – puff, uff, always the usual. But does everyone really know that the Superleggera required around eight years of development to be finally ready for the market? Or that the Up series has been one of the first examples of the  “flat pack”?

Torso armchair, by Paolo Deganello for Cassina, 1982; First chair, by Michele De Lucchi for Memphis, 1983, and Carlton bookcase, by Ettore Sottsass, 1980; and a Fiat Panda.

In Italy, we take it for granted that everyone knows the story, but that’s not the case. Therefore, precisely because a Design Museum is not an Art Museum, it would be nice to see the stories told in full.
How? Contemporary communication leaves you spoilt for choice: a site that tells the icons connected to the exhibition, for example, the most trivial thing you can think of. A videomapping with the stories, which are also visible online. Even the section dedicated to sports and technology, which is interesting, is in the end a little aseptic, unexplained, always taken for granted.
Of course, it is a speech that goes decisively against the tide, today that instead everything tends to be summed up in “pills”. You think “story” and already prefigure yourself boredom.
Maybe, or maybe people read and look, as long as there is something to read and look at. And Italian design, in spite of its worldwide fame and what we are talking about, still has a lot to tell. Of course, a museum is not a school, of course, nobody asks. But it is curious that the Design Museum itself is still not able to use design in the most efficient way, to communicate itself. (Roberta Mutti)

Triennale Design Museum, XI edition. Ideation and direction Silvia Annichiarico, curated by Chiara Alessi, Maddalena Dalla Mura, Manolo De Giorgi, Vanni Pasca, Raimonda Riccini. Allestimento di Calvi Brambilla. Graphic project: Leonardo Sonnoli.

Falkland pendant lamp, designed by Bruno Munari in 1964, I Componibili, by Anna Castelli Ferrieri for Kartell, 1967.