Salone del Mobile Milano


Milano Design Film Festival

The theme of the sixth edition of the Milan show, supported by the Salone del Mobile.Milano, amongst others, is Fast-Changing.

The time for badly made design, conceived for thoughtless consumption, is over, according to Dieter Rams, who has made “less, but better” his manifesto for both his private and professional life. A lengthy interview in which he talks about himself with filmmaker Gury Hustwit, invites reflection on the meaning of design in the round and its ramifications for society, the present day included, governed by haste and the lust for replacing rather than mending and thinking in the long term. The sixth edition of the Milano Design Film Festival opens with a biopic on the designer, who headed up Braun from 1961 to 1995, unconsciously dictating the rules for the aesthetics of electronic domestic products – and was the inspiration for the Apple brand. It fits with the Fast-Changing theme, tackled by a programme of more than seventy films. It takes a look at sustainable living, from various points of view.

Many of the films under this banner were made by past masters and have been chosen by an equal number of Made in Italy companies to support the festival and illustrate their own business philosophies. Take Achille Castiglioni (Ideal Standard), and his ability to do Tutto con un Niente [Everything with Nothing], as Valeria Parisi’s title suggests. Then there is the spiritual channelling of the work of Alvar Aalto (Marazzi) summarised by the wholly Italian church at Riola di Vergato, in the province of Bologna, which celebrates its fortieth anniversary this year, and is featured in Non Abbiamo Sete di Scenografie by Roberto Ronchi and Mara Corradi. Olivier Lemaire’s Chez Le Corbusier takes us into the Swiss architect’s apartment in the Immeuble Molitor at No. 24 of Rue Nungesser-et-Coli in the Boulogne district in Paris. Recently restored with the support of Cassina, and with a revolutionary architectural spin, its powerful message survives to this day. Just as in Mies en Scène (supported by Marigraf) Mies van der Rohe and Lilly Reich set out their revolutionary ideas for the Barcelona Pavilion in 1929, a cornerstone of architectural history. We also venture into Vico Magistretti’s studio/museum with exceptional guides in the form of present-day architects and designers, in three episodes of Dimmi di Vico, a film project endorsed by the Foundation that bears the Italian designer’s name.

Harnessing the explosive force that characterised ‘70s design, MDFF has also put together some of the videos that served as corollaries to projects by designers (Gae Aulenti, Ettore Sottsass, Joe Colombo and Alberto Rosselli) at the 1972 MoMA exhibition Italy. The New Domestic Landscape, curated by Emilio Ambasz, and directed by Gianni Colombo and Livio Castiglioni, Massimo Magrì and Osvaldo Marini. They are introduced by Giacomo Battiato’s short film, shot at night between La Scala and the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, furnished with pieces that went on to become icons in the history of Italian design.

These voices from the past are joined by that of Renzo Piano (film presented by Molteni Museum and Unifor), whose story is traced by filmmaker Francesca Molteni, with curator Fulvio Irace, through material from the RPBW Studio archive and the Foundation. The importance of memory, of conservation and of organising one’s own work is a form of knowledge that helps not just to preserve but also to pass on ideas, errors and thoughts. Then there are the women’s voices: Adelaide Acerbi, co-founder of Driade, in Emilio Tremolada’s story, and Nanda Vigo, about whom Marco Poma recounts another “episode” in the designer and artist’s infinite whimsy. There is also Alessandro Colizzi’s rediscovery of a Milanese graphic designer, Piero Ottinetti, who immigrated to America during the Seventies.

Francesca Molteni’s documentary Object to Project. Giorgetti Design since 1898 is a story about a company, “a journey into intelligent manufacturing and the historic district of Brianza, symbol of the ability to create beautiful things loved by the whole world.”

A show within a show is devoted to the world of interior design. Interior Frames: Visioni d’Interno Narrate Attraverso il Video, brings together 16 different short, medium-length and full length films. The aim is to examine authors’ homes, lived-in homes, homes of famous people from which we can draw our own conclusions about their personal domestic lives. Film and architecture form the dual theme of Park Associati’s guest curation for MDFF, which has compiled three films with the AIR Italian Directors’ Guild, putting together film clips on the theme of Milan, the places of power and Borders.

There is no shortage of lessons from the cinema sector, with the film Two Basilicas by multi award-winning German filmmaker Heinz Emigholz (with Bang & Olufsen) and short films by students from his workshop Filmare l’Architettura, at the Accademia di Mendrisio, all focused this year on the work of Mario Botta in Italian-speaking Switzerland. There is also a ten-film retrospective about the duo Bêka & Lemoine who gave a new educative vocabulary to the cinematic exploration of architecture. Finally an immersion in contemporary video is provided by the talk curated by Annalisa Rosso, Building a New Design Language, featuring three European video makers.

A large number of guests this year will be commenting on the screenings and taking part in discussions with filmmakers and activists such as Chris Jordan and Arthur Huang of Miniwiz, who are presenting their real and film projects on the impact of plastic pollution on the ocean, the many consequences for the ecosystem and a solution in the form of a portable machine for recycling and turning plastic into tiles that can be used in loco for covering walls and floors.  The talk Fast-Changing City focuses on contemporary urbanisation and its relation to property developers. It is counterbalanced by another focus, on the post-earthquake reconstruction of Amatrice, in a project by Stefano Boeri. 

There must be something we’ve out, such as for example the launch of the Biennial Architecture Film Award, endorsed by MDFF and shared with the Foundation of the Association of Architects, Urban Planners, Landscape Architects and Conservation Architects of the Province of Milan. Its purpose is to incentivise the increasing number of films produced around these disciplines, and promote the use of audio-visual language as a communication tool for architects. Our collaboration with the Order for the issue of training credits for architects has also been confirmed.

All that remains is to leave you to the pleasure of poring over the programme for yourselves and plotting your visits to the halls of the Anteo Palazzo del Cinema, where the festival is taking place from 25th to 28th October.


Still frames from:

01. 25 Bis
Ila Bêka & Louise Lemoine, France 2014, 46'

02. Achille Castiglioni. Tutto con un niente
Valeria Parisi, Italy 2018, 45’

03. Chez Le Corbusier / A casa di Le Corbusier
Olivier Lemaire, France 2018, 33’

04. De.Sign 2018 INTERIORS
Valeria Parisi, Italy 2018, 45’

05. Dimmi di Vico
A film in three episodes, a project endorsed by the Fondazione Studio Museo Vico Magistretti

06. Il potere dell’Archivio. Renzo Piano Building Workshop
Francesca Molteni, Italy 2018, 35’
Curated by Fulvio Irace in collaboration with Fondazione Renzo Piano and RPBW

07. L’Adelaide
Emilio Tremolada, Italy 2018, 47’29”

08. Mies on Scene. Barcelona in Two Acts
Pep Martín, Xavi Campreciós, Spain 2018, 57’