Triennale di Milano opens Museo del Design Italiano, an exhibition space that will soon expand, showcasing iconic pieces of Italian design made between 1946 and 1981

On Tuesday, April 9th, 2019, Triennale di Milano inaugurates the Museo del Design Italiano, an extraordinary permanent exhibition directed by Joseph Grima, which hosts some of the icons that made the history of Italian design.

Set up of the Italian Design Museum

200 objects produced between 1946 and 1981 are on display, showing how thirty years of experiments, new materials and techniques revolutionized our society.

In primo piano UPC_6 di Gaetano Pesce per B&B Italia (Anno 1969)

It offers an analysis of the period from the end of the Second World War to the post-war economic boom to the early 1980s, characterized by new, exuberant and out-of-the-box movements such as Memphis, with which a new age for design production began.

Superleggera by Giò Ponti for Cassina (Year 1955)

The items on show are accompanied by materials from the Triennale archives that had never been exhibited. Photographs, advertising campaigns and original packaging tell the story of the projects and their socio-historical context.

In primo piano il giradischi RR 126 di Achille e Pier Giacomo Castiglioni per Brionvega (Anno 1965)

“Even more than being a place where the historical memory of Italian design is preserved and protected,” says Joseph Grima, “the Museo del Design Italiano aspires to be a place of inspiration, in line with the most ancient meaning of the word ‘museum.’ The most intense and influential inspirations often do not come from inanimate objects but from the voices of those who created them and the narration of apparently mundane details that led to choices of fundamental importance for the history of design. With this in mind, we have decided to include the voices of the designers of the works on show. They have been asked to illustrate, simply and forthrightly, what gave rise to their objects and the cultural conditions to which each creation responded.”

Il divano Tramonto a New York di Gaetano Pesce per Cassina (Anno 1980)


What’s special about the interviews that accompany the exhibition is that they were all carried out over the phone, inspired by Vico Magistretti’s statement: “I like concept design, which is so clear that you don’t need to draw it. I communicated many of my projects over the phone.”

In primo piano la libreria Casablanca di Ettore Sottsass Jr per Memphis (Anno1981)

The Museo del Design Italiano occupies about 1,300 sq m, the curved space on the ground floor of the Palazzo dell’Arte. However, an expansion project has already been confirmed: an international design competition – an open procedure in two phases – will be launched by May 2019. The expansion will include new exhibition spaces able to host the whole collection and areas designed for public services, as well as the reorganization of the archives for a total surface area of 6,000 sq m.

La Poltrona di Proust di Alessandro Mendini (Anno 1978)

The creation of the Museo del Design Italiano was advocated by Stefano Boeri, President of Triennale Milano, and the Board of Directors of Triennale Foundations. It has been built thanks to the support of the Italian Ministry of Cultural Heritage and Activities.

Jonathan De Pas, Donato d’Urbino, Paolo Lomazzi
In primo piano la poltrona Joe di Jonathan De Pas, Donato d’Urbino, Paolo Lomazzi per Poltronova (Anno 1970)

“The opening of the Museo del Design Italiano – says Stefano Boeri – represents the first step of a broader long-term project supported by Mibac and other partners of the Triennale, in collaboration with ADI and Assolombarda, with which Triennale is forming an association. The goal is to expand our collection through strategic acquisition policies and new collaborations with archives, companies, schools, universities and other museums, and to expand Triennale’s spaces dedicated to design, allowing our institution to become the most important international center devoted to Italian design.”

[Text Carlotta Russo-Photo Gianluca di Ioia]