The symbol of Milan? The panettone. To be specific, the one made by G. Cova & C. In the NoLo district of Milan (North of Loreto), the former Cova factory, whose afterlife included being a printing plant, has lain abandoned for decades now. The big novelty of the 2018 Milan Design Week will be presented here: it's called Alcova. Although it brings to mind a place of languid abandonment, the name refers to the original owners of the premises, which are now being occupied by Space Caviar (founded by Joseph Grima) and Studio Vedèt (founded by Valentina Ciuffi). Located at 11/13 Via Popoli Uniti and a nearby branch at 85 Via Venini, Alcova is a breath of fresh experimental air, where things are done in a new way, starting with the space hosting the events.
Why did you pick this location?
It is so impressive. Wild plants have grown over the years. The architecture is from the early 20th century. There is a beautiful goods hoist and a colonnade. It’s a place you wouldn't expect to find. We kept everything the way it was, with the holes in the pavement and the collapsed ceilings. It wasn’t easy to make everything safe without ruining the atmosphere.
What is your project?
The people who accepted our invitation are prepared to take on the challenge of this wonderful, difficult space – some parts are actually open-air areas. It is a getaway from cookie-cutter trade-show presentations. Our guests have a vision similar to ours, a taste for research and an interest in mixing different worlds. So people attracted by galleries such as Nilufar and Maniera will cross paths with super interdisciplinary experiments by young collectives such as Better Known As, or with field research by institutions such as Z33. In the same way, visitors of museums and institutions will come across unusual fashion shows and performances. They will encounter emerging projects concerning anonymous design and craftsmanship. We think this will lead to new and productive synergy across the board, including between participants.
Who are the participants?
There are young Italian groups such as Bloc Studios and Architetti Artigiani Anonimi. There’s Jasper Morrison with the Nanban project; the Georgian designers Rooms; the galleries Nilufar and Salvatore Lanteri. The design collective Better Known As will be conducting experiments with graphic design and set design. There will be artists and performers presented by Marsèlleria. The Dutch duo Buro Belén will show a project on suntan lotion (connected to the missing roof!). Luca Cipelletti is displaying a lean, architectural table for the more classic interior. We are also hosting design exponents with history to their name, such as Gijs Bakker and Cristiano Toraldo di Francia for the company I-Mesh from the Marche. As I mentioned before, Maniera from Brussels will be present. They have been working with Piovenefabi on pieces inspired by the Milan subway. Our city has an important role; many Milanese participants are involved.
Your exhibitors are so diverse, how did you select them?
The process was really informal. Prevalently, they are friends, or friends of friends, people we know or are interested in knowing better. Some are acquainted with each other. The ones who aren’t are likely to enjoy meeting the others. They have similar approaches, but move in different circuits. Studio Vedèt is more geared toward collectors, and Space Caviar is linked to architecture. We think it’s natural to start by working with friends, with people you esteem and frequent on a regular basis.
- Alcova, Via Popoli Uniti 11/13, Via Venini 85
- Exhibition dates:
- 17-22 April 2018
- Curatorial team:
- Space Caviar, Studio Vedèt