Independent design triumphs in Turin

It’s been a successful return for Operae, the independent design festival whose 2016 edition has just come to an end in Turin, where it was running in parallel with Artissima.
Between 3 and 6 November, Palazzo Cisterna was the stunning venue for an event deeply rooted in the local area. Operae’s aim is to provide a platform for design, artisans, galleries, businesses and institutions to come together while at the same time showcasing some of Turin’s most historic locations – in this way, the event celebrates both the content and the space containing it. Each year features a different theme, with the seventh edition opting for Designing the Future. The 33 designers selected from all over the world were able to use a truly evocative setting to display their creations. And although these spanned the full panorama of contemporary design, all shared a design approach which values artisanal production techniques, borrows influences from other areas (especially science) and experiments with materials both old and new.

As well as the Design Section, which wowed visitors to the event, Operae also featured a Galleries Section (a new edition for 2016). The focus here was on collectable design, with the pieces providing ample cause for reflection on the various meanings and perspectives related to the theme. It was especially relevant at a time when specialised galleries are being met with ever-increasing public interest.
«To dream up and devise today objects that will be used in the future» was the gauntlet laid down for the designers by Operae 2016 curator Annalisa Rosso, who deemed it «an appeal to the bravery and knowledge of the designers of today to determine our tomorrow».

Two workshops for industry professionals were also organised (one focusing on wood and run by Slow Wood, the other looking at fragrances with Tonatto Profumi), while the To Design Meetings B2B area – coordinated by the Turin Chamber of Commerce – brought together over 40 companies and more than 50 designers, with 350 meetings taking place in total.
In addition to all these activities, the Piemonte Handmade exhibition saw local artisans, designers and galleries team up to produce ten exclusive products, while Trecentottanta: Appunti sull’antica Università dei Minusieri was a homage to the ancient Università dei Minusieri, Ebanisti e Mastri di Carrozza, which was founded in Turin back in 1636. Venetian design duo Zaven created a fresh interpretation of the university’s design heritage, producing two unique objects which were displayed and placed on sale at the event.

There are few words capable of summing up this edition of Operae. Both the designs showcased and the guests (including the architects Cino Zucchi and Joseph Grima, the economist Stefano Micelli, Design Parade Hyères and Toulon director Jean-Pierre Blanc and Beijing Design Week artistic director Beatrice Leanza) were of the highest quality, with crowds flocking from all over the world to take it all in. And to top it off, industry operators were able to tap into tangible business opportunities.