Seven days, seven exhibitions, three floors and a joint roof. During the Milano Design Week 2023, House of Switzerland Milano will be hosting Swiss designers, studios, brands and a variety of institutions operating in the field of design. The programme comprises diverse approaches to the «Urgent Legacy» theme – including local production, responsible use of material, recycling and upcycling, inclusive design solutions and responses to the climate crisis. The group exhibitions are accompanied by talks and workshops. House of Switzerland Milano is jointly organised by Pro Helvetia and Presence Switzerland in collaboration with numerous partners.
“Urgent Legacy” exhibition
Facing up to the “Urgent Legacy” issues, the Swiss design scene is due to present a diverse range of innovative solutions in response to today’s pressing global challenges at House of Switzerland Milano. The display includes the works of aspiring young designers and independent studios as well as a curated selection of brands and institutions from the worlds of education and research.
In its “Emerging Talents” selection, Pro Helvetia introduces nine young designers that offer aesthetically convincing solutions created with sparing use of resources. What does beauty mean to those without eye-sight? Alena Halmes finds inspiration from what is invisible in her glass series entitled “Eyes Closed”. Alix Arto uses sustainable materials to shape inside and outside, light and dark on a fabric panel under the heading “Sur-Mesure”. With her multifunctional baby kit “Newo”, Emma Casella proposes new means of application for Swiss wool. Léon Félix builds on the cooling properties of clay and water, an ancient Islamic technique, for his window shutter system “Terra”. In “Refonte”, Nadia El-Hindi, Swann Fardel and Aurore Péry (Gradient Atelier) show aluminium bowls produced in response to the question of how new design can continue to benefit humans and the planet as a whole even in 2023. Their anti-design approach spotlights the ecological, social and political responsibilities of the design scene. “Herbier Project” by Paula Cermeño León combines plant-based cosmetics, one-way production and biological degradability in artful face masks. Edible seagrass is a promising form of food for the future, but as yet barely known – a fact that Studio Carolien Niebling (Carolien Niebling) try to counter with their ceramics production named “Plating Up the Future”. The project “React/Refract” by Erika Marthins (Studio Marthins) involves research combining computer-based design, robotics, handicraft and elements of circular economy. Finally, an aluminium stool dubbed “Y-Stool” by Studio Topo (Moritz Gysi, Linus Maurmann, David Walsh) combines recycling with the reduction of material’s usage.
Four universities have dedicated work to “Urgent Legacy”: ECAL/University of Art and Design Lausanne shows what Bachelor students of industrial design produced at the workshop “Junkyard Diving – Exploring and creating out of our waste”. ETH Zürich is represented with the interactive exhibition “Inclusive Design – For a world without barriers”, a selection of prostheses and other appliances developed for people with disabilities. With their exhibition entitled “Spirits – Excellent for the head”, an allusion also to the speak-easies of the prohibition era, Masters students of spatial and communication design at HEAD-Genève evoke the heritage of the likes of Ray Eames, Daisy Ginsberg, Eileen Gray, Anab Jain, Sophie Täuber-Arp, Magdalene Odundo and Valentine Schlegel. The FHNW Academy of Art and Design’s immersive exhibition “New Territories – Shaping Design Cultures” presents projects dealing with design culture, sustainability and digital integration.
Further perspectives are offered by a variety of other institutions. Istituto Svizzero presents the INNER LIGHT collective’s DIY Academy, which invites visitors to redesign their discarded clothes with a sewing machine and screen printing, instead of throwing them away. mudac director Beatrice Leanza will host a breakfast talk under the heading “Making Things Public – The design of institutions now and then” featuring Johanna Agerman Ross (Victoria & Albert Museum London), Aric Chen (Nieuwe Instituut Rotterdam) and Ewan McEoin (National Gallery of Victoria Melbourne). NOV Gallery is putting on the exhibition “Paper Trail”, a collection of work from various studios on the subject of paper as a resource.
Last but not least, six Swiss brands dedicated to sustainable, local and durable production are putting a pick of their creations on display: Embru, Lehni, Lichtprojekte Christian Deuber, Röthlisberger Kollektion, schindlersalmerón and Seledue.
Monocle Radio will broadcast live from House of Switzerland Milano. The programme features, above all, interviews with designers and architects.
Milano Design Week (Fuorisalone) is scheduled from 17 to 23 April.
House of Switzerland Milano
House of Switzerland Milano is a joint project by Presence Switzerland and the Swiss Arts Council Pro Helvetia in partnership with Switzerland Global Enterprise / Swiss Business Hub Italy, Ikea Foundation Switzerland and Bally, and in collaboration with the Swiss Design Association, Casa degli Artisti and the Swiss Consulate General in Milan.
Following the initial, successful edition of 2022, House of Switzerland Milano has been expanded for the Fuorisalone 2023. A platform for Swiss design production has been installed, focusing on a different topic each year. “Urgent Legacy” is this year’s theme. The aim of the House of Switzerland project, planned to run for three years, is to offer design practitioners an international stage and to build bridges with relevant industries as well as new audiences.
The exhibits are presented to the public under the artistic direction and visual communication of Adeline Mollard (Zurich/Switzerland), scenography by Work Matter (Lausanne/Switzerland) and photography by Sara Bastai (Porto/Portugal).
An overview of Swiss presence at the Milano Design Week 2023 can be found on the Swiss Design Map, curated by the Swiss Design Association.
Photos credit – Image treatment: Sara Bastai / Graphic Design: Adeline Mollard
Press release of the Swiss Arts Council Pro Helvetia, 4 April 2023