The theme of the 23rd Triennale Exhibition, Unknown Unknowns, is designed to introduce possibly now forgotten, ancient ingredients back into the recipe for the way in which we think about the unknown – astonishment, opportunity and emotion.
Marco Sammicheli, curator of the design, fashion and craft section of Triennale Milano and Director of the Italian Design Museum, has curated the Italian Pavilion exhibition, La tradizione del nuovo, which casts an enquiring look at the Triennale exhibitions that took place over the last 30 years or so of the last century, hunting down projects that took on the challenge of contemporaneity (at that time), experimenting and pushing the boundaries of design, planning and industrial production a little further.
We can expect a great deal of unknown things, also in the years ahead. Not the sort of unknown, given the contingencies, that is easy to imagine with much enthusiasm – climatic disasters that are now only containable, perhaps, and the ensuing migrant crises, a political balance shattered after 70 years of Western stability, and the usual sovereignisms in charge. It’s a future – and an approach to the unknown, or to the as-yet unknown – that has now changed, compared with the enthusiasm and expectations of the Eighties, Nineties and early Twenties.
As the visual identity of Unknown Unknowns. An Introduction to Mysteries, with its darkness and those planets shows, pushing our imaginations and planning a little further than the contingencies we’re likely to face on earth in the coming years and setting our horizons a little further, is one of the crucial tools for looking at this future. In some ways a celebration of utopia, rather than dystopia.
This celebration is echoed in the Italian Pavilion at this Triennale with La tradizione del Nuovo, curated by Marco Sammicheli. Not planets, lunar modules, meteorite dust or biospheres for carrying life into space, but a series of doors with strange objects applied to them. The installation by the Zaven studio – a duo composed of Enrica Cavarzan and Marco Zavagno who were responsible for the entire exhibition display – was inspired by the book Invece del Campanello (Instead of a Doorbell), by Bruno Munari and Davide Mosconi, who invented a series of curious, engaging devices for knocking on a number of doors behind which certain particular personalities would be hiding.