The ‘restorative’ design of the XXII Triennale of Milan

Taking an honest look at the future of our species with a proactive and creative approach, the XXII International Exposition of the Triennale of Milan, determined to regain continuity after a pause of twenty years with the theme ‘Broken Nature: Design Takes on Human Survival’, curated by Paola Antonelli. Among the main sponsors, Eni and Lavazza

XXII Triennale, Broken Nature: Design Takes on Human Survival. Students' Educational and Cultural Movement of Ladakh - SECMOL (Sonam Wangchuk), Ice Stupa. 2013-14, artificial glacier designed to counter climate change consequences in the region of Ladakh. Photo: Lobzang Dadul. Courtesy SECMOL.
XXII Triennale, Broken Nature: Design Takes on Human Survival. Students' Educational and Cultural Movement of Ladakh - SECMOL (Sonam Wangchuk), Ice Stupa. 2013-14, artificial glacier designed to counter climate change consequences in the region of Ladakh. Photo: Lobzang Dadul. Courtesy SECMOL.

It is about restoring to the natural sphere the same amount that has been subtracted from it in these centuries, and in particular in the last decades. Rebuilding the bonds that unite people to the natural environment, deeply compromised, through a restorative attitude of design.

This is the investigation launched and further investigated by the XXII Triennale of Milan that, with Broken Nature: Design Takes on Human Survival, visible from 1 March to 1 September 2019, declares its desire to restore the tradition of the event, interrupted about twenty years ago and always in line with contemporary themes. Reflection and exposition, curated by Paola Antonelli, senior curator of the Department of Architecture and Design and director of the Research and Development department at the MoMA in NY, will investigate these problems through objects and strategies on various scales, interpreting the relationship between human beings and the context in which they live, including social and natural ecosystems.

XXII Triennale, Milano, Broken Nature: Design Takes on Human Survival, padiglione francese, foto Gianluca Di Ioia
XXII Triennale, Milano, Broken Nature: Design Takes on Human Survival, padiglione francese, foto Gianluca Di Ioia

“We need to study new lifestyles – stresses Stefano Boeri, president of the Triennale – recycling in a different way, relating to nature and making it work extensively, involving everyone at an international level.” Climate change is an urgent need that highlights the rift between the human community and the environment, and cities are the first to have to change their urban development plans (during these days there will be the ‘launch’ of the B Area in Milan, which limits the use of cars in an extensive area).

Paola Antonelli reiterates the importance of the individual, which can cause chain reactions, “citizens are the most powerful engine of transformation, we expect that by visiting the exposition, we will begin to understand what our shortcomings are, if there is something that we have forgotten.” Within the thematic exhibition, the 22 International Participations appear to be perfectly aligned.

The French Hall, with De la pensée au visible. Design As A Large Ring, curated by Catherine Geel, brings together 9 concrete and perspective proposals, including that of the biologist Marie-Sarah Adenis (PILI), who has created a ‘cellular colour factory’, an ink production procedure based on the fermentation of cells rather than on the oil industry, an idea that has already made the antennas straighten up at some fashion houses for a concrete application on textiles.

XXII Triennale, Milano, Broken Nature: Design Takes on Human Survival. padiglione polacco, foto Luca Previtera.
XXII Triennale, Milano, Broken Nature: Design Takes on Human Survival. padiglione polacco, foto Luca Previtera.

The Polish Hall, instead, with the project The MYCOsystem of the Adam Mickiewicz Institute, curated by Agata Szydłowska, Małgorzata Gurowska and Maciej Siuda, launches a reflection on the natural cycle of transformation of matter through a sloping platform where the upper surface, suitably perforated, lets us see the subsoil in which roots and mycelia thrive: the mushroom, in fact, is a perfectly calibrated model of collaboration between species.

XXII Triennale, Milano, Broken Nature: Design Takes on Human Survival, padiglione Italia, foto Gianluca Di Ioia.

Suggestions also from 4 ELEMENTS TAKING CARE which defines the Italian Hall as a contemporary library of scientific knowledge, a vision of the multidisciplinary and analytical approach by the Polytechnic of Milan, an internationally recognised high-level training centre, design by Ico Migliore from the Migliore + Servetto Architects studio.

XXII Triennale, Milano, Broken Nature: Design Takes on Human Survival, Formafantasma_Ore Streams, collection of office furniture constructed using dead-stock and recycled electronic materials.
XXII Triennale, Milano, Broken Nature: Design Takes on Human Survival, Formafantasma (Simone Farresin, Andrea Trimarchi), Ore Streams, Cubicle 2. 2017. Photo: IKON. Courtesy Nicoletta Fiorucci, London and Giustini/Stagetti, Rome with support by StimuleringFonds and National Gallery of Victoria.

Alongside international representations, Broken Nature welcomes four works that were specially commissioned to international designers (Formafantasma, Neri Oxman and the Mediated Matter Group research group of the MIT Media Lab, Sigil Collective and Accurat) who aim at correcting the self-destructive course of humanity and – involve rethinking our relationship with the environment and with all the species present on the planet, including human beings. In addition, there will be a selection of one hundred projects from the last three decades, examples of restorative design, architecture and art from all over the world.

Resounding with strength and sensitivity are two special participations. The Nation of Plants, scientific and poetic exposition based on the theories of Stefano Mancuso, one of the world’s leading authorities in the field of plant neurobiology, which points the finger at our dependence on the plant world and how plants are intelligent and capable of interacting.

The Great Animal Orchestra, an immersion in the heart of the sounds of nature, visual and audio reflection on the need to preserve the beauty of the animal world, commissioned by the Fondation Cartier pour l’art contemporain of Paris and created by the musician and bioacoustic expert Bernie Krause and by the English collective United Visual Artists (UVA).

XXII Triennale, Milano,Broken Nature: Design Takes on Human Survival, La nazione delle Piante, Gianluca Di Ioia
XXII Triennale, Milano,Broken Nature: Design Takes on Human Survival, La nazione delle Piante, Gianluca Di Ioia

Finally, the Bee Awards are being awarded by an international jury to the 3 most significant projects from among those of the international participations, created by three Italian artists: Chiara Vigo, Olì Bonzanigo and Bona Calvi.

XXII Triennale, Milano, Broken Nature: Design Takes on Human Survival,
The Great Animal Orchestra, foto Gianluca Di Ioia.