The iconography of Italian design from the post war golden age from Albini to Zanotta is so familiar that it amounts to a kind of self referential lexicon. It has become the raw material for a parlour game in which the cards are continually shuffled and reshuffled in search of new meetings and patterns. A hermetic game played by successive curators at the Triennale in Milan that has been been going almost since the establishment of the Compasso d’Oro.
New objects are admitted to this pantheon, but none are ejected. Inevitably as we have drifted out the analogue era, their meaning has been transformed. They have gone from the useful, the objects that define our lives into, a kind of archaeology that tells us a great deal about how life once was. They have lost the gravity of utility, but remain the subject of study, much like the language of the ancient Greeks.
To explore the icons of Italian design has come to be as much about defining ourselves and validating our own tastes, as it is about the multiple meanings of the artefacts themselves. We look for the pieces that can signal our own discrimination. It is a particularly poignant exercise given how Italy’s situation has changed, once dominant, now uncertain. They are the essential objects that define the country’s past, when its future does not look as secure.