East of Mecca

With Ventura Lambrate, a new Fuori Salone-zone springs up at an east Milan area that aims to put the quality of its content centre stage. An initiative of Organisation in Design, the Dutch duo behind the dream made real have managed to attract not only their compatriots but also international participants in this alternative design map.

There may be many different methods to open new doors in the design field, but Margriet Vollenberg and Margo Konings of the Organisation in Design have taken an audacious route to making their long-held, wildest dreams come true this year. The name of their initiative consequently suggests a venture: Ventura Lambrate is an area for Fuori Salone exhibitions in Milan that will be launched by the two Dutch mediators in design this year. Far away from the Zona Tortona, located in the Lambrate district around Via Ventura, the many former industrial warehouses in the area are ideal exhibition spaces: ‘We have been searching very hard for years to find an area like this, where design with content can be realised,’ says Vollenberg.

Potential Unlocked
The Milan Lambrate-area became famous for the old factories such as Lambretta, Faema and others that were once located here. Today, many smaller art galleries have opened or relocated here, the Scuola Politecnica di Design is nearby and the rough former factory halls can be unlocked for exhibitions. With about 5,000 sq m and more than 20 international exhibitors, the whole area has become a promising tip for where to go in Milan. According to Vollenberg and Konings’s longterm perspective, there is even more space to grow in the future and to make the Ventura Lambrate zone a place where strictly high-quality design is shown during the Salone. The list of this year’s exhibitors is a mixture of young and emerging designers, renowned established studios like Maarten Baas, different companies, and creative labels such as the newly launched Italian Flat Design with its collection of contemporary tablecloths. Design institutions like the Design Academy Eindhoven and several art galleries are taking advantage of the new spaces. ‘The Zona Tortona is too busy and corporate – and too expensive for us,’ Tord Boontje from the Royal College of Art says. The students of the postgraduate course and recent graduates of the Design Products course will show their work in an exhibition named Hotel RCA, covering 900 sq m. Displayed in different zones corresponding to the functions and the spaces in a hotel, there will be experimental products like the selfportrait machine by Jen Hui Liao and completely finished products like Dirk Winkel’s Ultradur desk light. ‘The character of the exhibition is very individual,’ Boontje explains and defines his role as a facilitator for the 90 RCA-designers that will use the space as a platform to show their work. To discover the process behind the objects is the aim of
the Ten Small Atlases show curated by Barbara Brondi and Marco Rainò. With designers like Julia Lohmann and Peter Marigold who have been taking part, along with eight other designers, in the IN Residence-workshop in Turin, the exhibition focuses on the way things come to be made, and opens different visual vocabularies and creative strategies that are conceived in the displayed works. When design comes to a playful stage, Studio Laikingland is the right place to go in the Zona Lambrate. After a debut at London Design Week last year, the creative collaboration based in the UK and the Netherlands is showing five new kinetic objects that have been developed together with different designers.

Clarity of Quality
‘We were kept very free,’ says Kiki van Eijk who presents her vision of the art of dining at the Ventura Lambrate. Total Table Design consists of two set tables – one by Stefan Scholten and Carole Baijings and the other by Kiki van Eijk – with ceramics and crystal, napkins in linen, and cutlery in stainless steel. ‘The idea was to create a Gesamtkunstwerk like the Wiener Werkstätte did,’ van Eijk explains. Her manufacturing partners, Royal Leerdam Crystal, Koniklijke Van Kempen & Begeer and the Audax Textile Museum that took the initiative for the whole project, brought the know-how and arts and crafts-background for the single pieces in different materials. There are several places where van Eijk will show different works in Milan this year – three of them are in the new Fuori Salone-zone. ‘Starting from two years ago, there was too much circus in Zona Tortona, according to me. With too much commercial projects, the high quality was sometimes unclear,’ she says. For Organisation in Design, this was one of the main reasons to launch the new design district: ‘Due to the commercialisation in Zona Tortona, the overall quality of the presentation is dropping. We hear this from our direct lines, from design studios and creative labels who were asking us for other opportunities,’ Konings says. Ventura Lambrate offers opportunities to discover surprising and exiting presentations as well as interesting initiatives – a new venture for all visitors and participants this year.

Text: Sandra Hofmeister

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