The Molteni Museum: Narrating history, culture and enterprise

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The Molteni Group Museum is housed in the Glass Cube, an exhibition space By Ron Gilad

The new premises of the Molteni Museum and its new installation are open to the public on 23rd and 24th October 2021. Curated by Ron Gilad, the corporate museum showcases 50 iconic projects from the Molteni Group, which encompasses the Molteni&C, Dada, Unifor and Citterio brands.

Milan has consolidated its role as a cultural and industrial design promotion hub over the last few years, thanks to two leading venues that narrate its history and its evolution: the new ADI Museum and the renovated Triennale di Milano Design Museum. As well as these two institutions, which are complementary and in dialogue with each other, the Milanese and Lombard region boasts a wide variety of spaces, archives and museums that illustrate the central role of design in Italian culture and the country’s economy. Many of these are members of associations such as the MU-DE Circuito Lombardo Musei di Design [Lombard Network of Design Museums], which brings together museums and archives dedicated to design, and Museimpresa – Associazione Italiana Archivi e Musei d’Impresa [Italian Association of Corporate Archives and Museums], promoted by Assolombarda and Confindustria.

One of the most stand-out museums of this kind is the new Molteni Museum, which opened in 2015 to mark the company’s 80th anniversary and which was moved to new premises and restructured in the group’s Giussano complex (just a few kilometres from Milan), with a totally new layout in 2021.  Ron Gilad, the Israeli-born designer and architect, played a fundamental part in giving shape to the new exhibition hub in the Brianza district, designing the Glass Cube in the park of the Molteni Compound, and totally rethinking the way in which a rotating selection of 50 of the group’s projects could be narrated to the public: products, prototypes, graphic designs and images set the scene for the story, the identity and the values of the company.

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Molteni Museum, view of the permanent collection

Molteni&CDada, Unifor and Citterio are four of the most representative Made in Italy design brands. They have the power to attract leading Italian and international designers of the calibre of Michele De Lucchi, Patricia Urquiola, Ferruccio Laviani, Richard Sapper, Luca Meda and Michael Anastassiades.

The wealth of cultural heritage accumulated by Molteni is also represented by its new Heritage Collection, which revolves around a series of furnishings designed by Gio Ponti between 1935 and 1970 – the archive (the starting point for setting up all museums) is not just a place where the group’s stories have come to rest, but an active element, a source of inspiration and a tool for looking to the future.

The building housing the museum began life in the early 2000s as a photographic studio, later becoming a showroom and then a temporary exhibition space. The transparency of the Glass Cube is one of the architectural features that make the most of the collection’s new set design – the internal distribution, set on orthogonal axes, suggests viewpoints and perspectives on the outside while creating unexpected movements on the inside. A seamless connection is struck up between the architecture, the installation and the objects for exhibit. Besides the permanent collection – which constitutes the heart of the narrative – the museum holds special events such as temporary exhibitions that range from design and architecture to photography and art, as well as a packed programme of other events connected with it.

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Molteni Museum, view of the permanent collection

Along with the museum, the Giussano Compound was entirely rethought. The QallaM (Q to the power of M) creative space designed by Patricia Urquiola has been turned into a multimedia venue for screening a wide range of films and videos on designers and architects and on the technology involved in the quest for impeccable quality. It will also house themed workshops, conferences and presentations. The Quality Hub was designed to welcome visitors from a vast international network and communicate Molteni quality in all its aspects, informing new skills. It is aimed at architects, interior designers, buyers, journalists and to the community with which the company has always promoted the culture of design. Needless to say there is also a digital extension to the exhibition spaces – the website moltenimuseum.com – featuring the products on show as well as stories of the archive products, which form an integral part of the historic collection.

The Molteni Museum (and the entire Molteni Compound) is an unquestionably fine example of how a company can turn itself into an institution. From the factory to the showroom, by way of the archive, the group has put together a total, immersive experience in the world of design, in all its aspects – historic, cultural, design, productive and commercial.

As part of the IN TOUR event, organised by Museo City and the Circuito Lombardo Musei Design, Molteni&C is throwing open the doors of the Molteni Museum. Open Days will be held on 23rd and 24th October 2021, from 10am to 4pm. Bookings can be made via email to: rsvp@molteni.it (23rd October) and to rsvp.evets@molteni.it (24th October).

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Molteni Museum, view of the permanent collection

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Molteni Museum, view of the permanent collection

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Molteni Museum, view of the permanent collection

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Molteni Museum, view of the permanent collection

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Molteni Museum, view of the permanent collection

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Molteni Museum, view of the permanent collection

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22 October 2021