The French section explores the current space and its possibilities

An international showcase for contemporary design, the 23rd Milan Triennale, which takes place from July 15 to December 11, 2022, brings together 400 artists, designers and architects and 23 international pavilions. A thematic exhibition (unknown unknown An introduction to mystery), organized by European Space Agency astrophysicist Ersilia Vaudo, Yuri Suzuki, Irene Stracuzzi, SOM collective, Rafik Anadolu… Francis Carré, winner of the Pritzker Architecture Prize 2022, presents hundreds of creations of the greatest designers, including the Nobel of architects – Triennale and common space of installations Designed by yesterday’s tensewhich respects Africa and its diaspora.

It was a great opportunity to give a new generation of French designers the opportunity to make their proposals known in such an international forum. This is why the Ministry of Culture and the Ministry of Europe and Foreign Affairs entrusted the French section of the Triennale to a multidisciplinary team, the winner of the competition launched by their operator, the French Institute. Formed around designer Pablo Bras, the team consists of Juliet Geli (graphic designer, visual artist and scenographer) and Romain Gillet (scenic designer and designer).

Not yet able to speak of a school, the three young artists, focused on an attitude and approach shared with their peers, are eager to invite fifteen of them to participate in their project. Their common point? Wants to observe the present without imagining the future. Combinations, to exhaust possibilities. Take a closer look at our everyday life and its objects, letting them reveal their unquestionable uses and capabilities. Interview with Pablo Brass.

Pablo Bras, what led you to compete to create the French section of the Milan Design Triennale?

Pablo Bras: I’m a designer and I didn’t expect to be a curator of exhibitions one day! However, the competition launched by the Institut français came at a time when, in my work, and in particular the one I did for the Agora du Design, I wanted to go deeper into certain themes. Having an exhibition, playing on this new function for me, allowed me to broaden and broaden the proposal by inviting other artists to present their pieces. It was a question of making an argument collectively, and in particular, of giving their full space to certain artists who express neighboring forms with great force. It was an opportunity to connect pieces and practices that rarely intersect.

So I asked Romain Gillet and Juliet Geli, both designers, to join me. Together we designed the exhibition space of this French department, a project in itself: the design of a relational space between everyday forms and artefacts, the work of guest designers. All the designers contacted agreed to join the project by adopting its methodology. The success of the competition ensured us that the project could resonate with a specific relevance, to which the jury was sensitive.

How, concretely, does this very specific space present itself?

First you have to imagine a huge palazzo built in the 1930s, where this main event is taking place, a dedicated space, the “galeria”, which hosts the international pavilions of the Triennale, including ours.

The scenery of the French section is all brick. It’s almost a decoration. The floor is completely covered. Romain proposed that these bricks be removed to build small structures on which to place the guest artists’ objects, which he designed himself. The compacted earth technique allows Juliet to carve bricks. He designed a system of cartels that rest on “anchors” in the ground, a variety of visual hooks that reference serigraphs fixed to the walls. There are twenty-eight objects, representing about fifteen designers, knowing that we have also brought into play some art objects designed in the past by designers whose names have not reached us.

We tried to prepare an experience for the public, with objects that are not only on display but being used, or at least in situations. So that in this place the situation was created in our view, the relations were realized and the necessity of some objects appeared to us, so that others could act. In most cases, these are simple everyday objects (eating, drinking, lighting, cleaning, etc.), mostly manual objects. Some are used, others are eaten. There is a shovel and a broom, inflatable hammock to sit on, a speaker to spread the sound, “Durelex” glasses, “Le Parfait” jar… Finding these objects was really interesting. For example, if it turns out that a lamp is needed, we tighten our selection criteria according to our principles, until we identify one that is needed for the situation.

For that matter, you also dwell on the economy and ecology of the place…

We were able to rely on the intervention of guest designers. Some pieces, in fact, were produced on site, not to mention the food itself. To give you an idea, compared to this space of 90 m2 filled with objects, the “imported” pieces, all ready, only represent the volume of a pallet. Even the ink for the serigraph was produced on site, thanks to a recipe created by Juliet.

The idea remains to make an exhibition that consumes little energy, and the objects, as well as the scenery, are reused or consumed later if they are produced for the occasion. The 2200 bricks that materialize this space were pressed manually, with the soil around Milan, thanks to Pietro degli Esposti, an Italian architect specializing in eco-materials and founder of the “Matiera” studio. They will then be reused, for a permanent arrangement.

This interest in the juxtaposition of objects immediately places the French department at the heart of the Triennale’s theme…

When we see an object, if it gives us a certain amount of information, such as its size, its shape, its weight, it does not tell us how it is made or where it is going (recycle it, recycle it, reuse it). . But, more importantly to me, we are also not trained to observe phenomena arising from the combination of these objects. Systems of matter remain largely opaque to us. And this is what we want to highlight in our exhibition space, putting objects to be experienced, tested, used in a network of relationships that create situations that cannot be predicted.

The theme is, “The Unknown is the Unknown. An Introduction to Mystery”, as it was chosen by an astrophysicist Ersilia Vaudeau, can aim for the infinitely large and the infinitely small. For us, the most misunderstood is found in well-known everyday life, in this drama of objects, shapes and materials that pre-exist them, whose We are not aware of all the possibilities within. New mixes, testing new relationships, may bring out something completely new. To this end, our aim is to try to carefully observe the current around us, what can be reconfigured and reassembled. Identifying and creating new, future industries.

Exploring the unknown means wanting to see clearly into today’s very uncertain future. As for the idea of ​​projecting ourselves into the future, we therefore prefer “living in limbo”. It is not a question of abandoning progress, it is not a question of registering for or against art, but a question of approaching this unknown, the future that will emerge from our actions, being interested, precisely, in the synthesis of the present. Instead of projecting a vision of the future onto objects, we try to look as close as possible, to see what is there with the greatest sharpness.

In this sense, we do not have the ambition to solve social problems or even to inaugurate new practices, but only to provoke a change in the attitude of designers and, perhaps more broadly, in technical science. Green, more gentle approach too. In this approach, we rely on a number of important anthropologists and philosophers, such as Donna Haraway or Anna Sting (The world’s last mushroom), whose work consists of studying these integrated phenomena in objects.

France’s participation in the 23rd edition of the Exhibition of Decorative Arts and Modern Architecture at the Milan Triennale.pdf

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