“The amount of content that we scroll through daily on our smartphones is equivalent to twice the height of the Statue of Liberty”.
This reflection on the overload of images and information that overwhelms us on a daily basis is at the heart of Design Week 2020 at BASE Milano, where the Fuorisalone public will be offered an unexpected experience: from 21 to 26 April, the ex-Ansaldo lounge will be transformed – from the big open space for socialising, studying, working and kicking back that we are used to – into an off/lab: a space of physical and mental decompression located at the heart of the Tortona district, offering visitors the chance to temporarily switch off from the chaos and commotion that is the hallmark of Fuorisalone.
A BASE project conceived by Stella Orsini, the installation will be made up of a series of ‘beds’ dotted around the space, with lights and sounds designed to conjure up – in 20 minutes – an experience of insulation against the input overload of Design Week, which often reflects a broader social and professional condition. The installation will be enhanced by virtue of a multi-sensory kit – complete with eye mask and headphones to provide an original soundtrack that revisits the idea of white noise, curated by the artist Go Dratta – which will be handed out to participants, enabling them to switch off, both physically and mentally.
The aim: in an age that glorifies multitasking we have lost sight of the need to let our minds drift, a neurological state known as “default mode” in which boredom and daydreaming allow information to settle in the brain and even to make unexpected connections.
Disconnecting in order to reconnect, creating a void to give space to the new. A provocation? Yes, but only in part. Because off/lab is designed to function as an installation-meets-experiment, a collective reflection on modernity that is light-hearted yet also serious and urgent. BASE is issuing an invitation to challenge the state of hyperconnectivity and hyperactivity imposed by the pace of daily life and work, and their effect on our ability to generate ideas and creativity.
This installation sees BASE furthering its own ongoing reflection on today’s world of work, the dynamics and spaces that define our relationships, and the time required to establish creative processes. The idea for off/lab came out of the experience acquired over the last few years within the burò, BASE’s Project House, which brings together a range of organisations from the creative industries with the aim of developing projects and fostering cross-pollination between different disciplines, creating a workshop for experimenting with new models of time management and shared work space.
Right here, in the Project House, is a small off/room, a permanent space of decompression, where it is possible to be alone, in silence, in a setting free of all technological devices. This experience was greeted with enthusiasm by the resident community and has inspired BASE to replicate the experiment on a larger scale to involve the Design Week public in an issue which feels increasingly urgent with each passing day.