Milano Design Week

Salone del Mobile and Fuorisalone 2022

Experimental and collective: the exhibition platform at Base Milan

With the (broad) theme of We Will Design, Base brings together a solid group of independent, research-based projects that interpret design as something more than the production of functional objects.

Once again in 2021, Base – in the heart of Zona Tortona – confirms itself as one of the hubs of interest of Milan Design Week and an active place for experimentation, thanks to the right mix of emerging and established realities, local and international designers, companies and institutions. This year's topic is We Will Design: from the individual and domestic scale to the collective neighbourhood and ecosystem scale, Base invites participants to co-design a more conscious and sustainable future.

We are welcomed in the former industrial building by a large installation dedicated to planet Earth, Gaia, by artist Luke Jerram. In the shadow of the work, daily conversations and presentations take place, developing the content of the exhibitions

We visited in particular the “exhibition platform” – with installations, furniture, research and educational projects – that fills the bare naves on the first floor of the building. Among the projects on display we find Cross Cultural Chairs, which is the one that best represents the attitude of Base Milano this year: it is a research on the socio-cultural differences between the eight most populated countries in the world, analysed through chairs. It is a journey on the road by designer Matteo Guarnaccia, who has chosen design as a tool for understanding the world. Brazil, Mexico, Japan, Indonesia, China, India, Russia and Nigeria: in these countries Guarnaccia collaborated with local craftsmen and designers, looking for a specific way of conceiving and producing a chair in each of them.

Cross Cultural Chairs. Courtesy BASE Milano
Cross Cultural Chairs. Courtesy BASE Milano

Waste materials are at the centre of the installation by META, a new Milanese reality that reclaims the sets of temporary events, from fashion shows to trade fairs. The young collective represents a small part of its warehouse, located in the Bovisa area, treating the raw materials as if they were real works of art in and of themselves.

Spazio META. Courtesy BASE Milano

The installation PA*GA (Parliament of Gaia), by Sicilian studio Analogique, allowed us to disconnect for a few minutes from the frenzy of the day, isolate, and dedicate ourselves completely to the relationship with a collection of plants that symbolises the island and its natural and cultural stratification. By listening directly to the sound of the plants, the nomadic device offers a moment of inner inspection, a singular experience of connection with nature.

PA*GA, the project for BASE Milano. Photo Tiziano Demuro
PA*GA, the project for BASE Milano. Photo Tiziano Demuro

A small temporary pavilion houses an exhibition curated by the Parasite 2.0 studio: "Baratto". This is the latest chapter of the research project "Antropofago Productions", through which the architects reflect on overproduction and overconsumption of content through images. In addition to the designers on show (selected through an open call) the pavilion is animated by open workshops organised by a number of international artists – Jean Baptiste Gambier, Cecilia Del Carmen Juarez Balta and Dischi Funclab – who will invite the public to reflect on the value of non-monetary exchanges.

"Baratto" curated by Parasite 2.0. Courtesy BASE Milano
"Baratto" curated by Parasite 2.0. Courtesy BASE Milano

A joint commentary is dedicated to two different projects that, seen together, offer a wide-ranging look at the theme of childhood education, using drawing or the design of objects as teaching tools. "Plastic Fighters" by the Ludosofici collective and "Drawing machines", organised by the Free University of Bolzano, propose alternative teaching methods to stimulate the imagination and liberate creativity.

The section with the exhibitions is only a part of the rich programme proposed by Base: you can find the ReStart initiative that, distributed in the Tortona district, aims at helping small local traders; there is also the Temporary Home project with IKEA (we talked about it HERE); finally, you can find a sophisticated music programme that animates the spaces of the open courtyard.

A small note to conclude the story of what we saw: we visited the cultural centre in via Bergognone last Saturday afternoon, on the day dedicated to the press and professionals. Although accessibility was limited, after two years we found "The Queue", every visitor's nightmare, which in past editions seemed to become the protagonists of Basma Abdel Aziz's novel. Right at Base, in 2019, the introduction of a ticket (of only 2 euros) had been experimented in order to avoid crowds of disinterested people invading the space, compromising the experience of true design lovers.

This year we are almost pleased to wait a bit to get in and note that on Sunday 5 September – the official opening day of the Show – we found queues (also due to the control of green passes) both at the fair and in the main locations distributed throughout the city.

We Will Design
BASE, via Bergognone 34 Milano
From 5 to 12 September 10am – 8pm

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