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Published by Sugar & Cream, Tuesday 19 March 2024

Images courtesy of Masterly

At The Palazzo Giureconsulti, Milan: 16 – 21 April 2024

It is with great pride that Masterly -The Dutch in Milano announces its eighth and eagerly awaited edition. Masterly is ready to enchant art and design enthusiasts with a burst of Dutch innovation, creativity, and craftsmanship.

Palazzo Giureconsulti, Piazza dei Mercanti 2, Milano 
COCKTAIL, (upon invitation) Tuesday 16th, 6.30 PM – 9 PM 
ARCHITECTS’ TALK, Wednesday 17th, 11 AM
FLOWERS HAND-OUT, Sunday 21st, 2 PM

For the few who are still unfamiliar with the event, Masterly is the biggest event dedicated to Dutch design during Milan Design Week. It brings a dynamic collective of designers, artists, craftsmen, companies, and colleges, selected each year by its curator and founder, Nicole Uniquole.

Since its first edition, the exhibition continues to be a beacon in the rich landscape of the world’s most important design week. This year’s edition has eighty-five participants representing a myriad of today’s design interpretations. From avant-garde furniture to digital installations, Masterly promises to illustrate the diverse and dynamic nature of Dutch design.

The 2024 edition is supported by the Embassy and Consulate of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, which once again demonstrate their commitment to promoting Dutch creativity beyond national borders.

This is Masterly’s second year at The Palazzo Giureconsulti, a magnificent building of great historical significance in Milan, overlooking its most treasured monument, the famous Duomo.

The Palazzo, as the curator intends, is never just the backdrop to the exhibition. It is an integral part of the visitors’ experience: the installations merge with its halls, inspired by its architecture and all its original details.

Masterly’s brand identity, from the catalogue to the signage and the hostesses’ uniforms, conceived by the Dutch studio Opera Design together with the curator, is inspired by the stylistic features of the palace. and contributes to making the experience of the exhibition enjoyable, restoring that sense of care and attention towards the public that has always characterised the event.

Masterly 2024. The Good of Tradition, the Beauty of Innovation
Masterly, as is only fitting for an event that talks about design and creativity, is a project in constant motion and always future focused.

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This year, the participants’ works convey the sense of a true and profound change that can wait no longer: the projects take the words that are sometimes used instrumentally in communication, such as innovation, green, sustainability, reuse, and translate these into concrete and real projects. Considering that design represents the avant-garde, a sense of confidence and hope for the future is instilled by the projects on display.

Masterly 2024 could be summed up by ‘The good of tradition, the beauty of innovation’, and we are confident that this statement will resonate with vistors. Because as we delve into the projects of the participants, these two narrative threads – tradition and innovation – sometimes distinct, sometimes intertwined, emerge clearly.

3D printing, Artificial Intelligence, materials
Change comes in many forms: the use of 3D-printing machines, the application of AI in project development, research, and the application of new materials.

Paradigmatic is the example of companies such as Aectual when it comes to 3D-printing. In collaboration with Phillips MyCreation, Aectual presents an entirely 3D-printed installation comprising a bar, a pavilion and a lighting project.

Rollo Studio, among the independent designers, also produces its sculptural lamps using the 3D moulding technique.

Among the (many!) projects developed with the help of Artificial Intelligence (Francesca Müller, Groen & Boothman) particularly curious is that of Every Human Algorithmic Perfumery that welcomes visitors in the entrance hall, offering them the opportunity of a personalised perfume. Thanks to the personal data entered into the system, Artificial Intelligence creates ad hoc olfactory formulas.

Among the ‘sensitive’ themes, materials are certainly the most investigated and, in this regard, different scenarios open up: there are those who use materials resulting from sustainable production processes, those who use materials obtained from the waste of other productions, and those who focus on the theme of re-use.

The rising star Lucas Zito who has conceived a site-specific installation for Masterly 2024, uses recycled PET for his light sculptures, the lamps in the Layers collection, presented by Philips MyCreation, are created by moulding a biomaterial. The chairs by Primo Arets, a young graduate of the HMC Vocational College, are also made from waste wood.

The Visionary Lab unites under the umbrella of the Icons Re/Outfitted project, two iconic brands Vitra and Levi’s©, re-dressing and re-interpreting some of the Swiss brand’s historical seats with pre-loved denim.

MYCOTEX on the other hand, is a biomaterial, similar to leather, created in the laboratory from the composting of mushrooms, which thanks to Neffa’s 3D-moulding machines, is transformed into objects of various types and uses.

Future is now. ROOTS by Simone van Es
Speaking of materials, the project ROOTS by Simone van Es, an exhibition within Masterly, deserves its own chapter. It emphasises the commitment of several artists and designers to urgent environmental issues and celebrates the intrinsic beauty of the earth and the importance of its roots (hence the title).

The Dutch design industry has experienced enormous development in the field of bio-based materials. Horse manure, algae, mushrooms, apple peels, coffee grounds, flax, sunflowers, are some of the waste materials used to develop circular solutions, essential for preserving the earth, whereby earth means the soil, in this case the Dutch soil, which is subjected to many challenges and difficulties.

Together with artists like Claudy Jongstra and Diana Scherer ROOTS investigates the origin, core, soil types, opportunities, threats, animals, and crops of Dutch soil. But also, the materials and (building) products that can be collected, created or reused from the soil.

Interweaving tradition and innovation
There are, in Masterly, examples of successful blending of tradition and innovation. We think of companies such as Van Besouw or FritsJurgens, which draw on their own experience, but know how to interpret the present by pushing research into new materials and new technologies, or Dutch companies that symbolise the heritage of the past such like Royal Delft and Dutch Originals with Richard Hutten and Maarten Baas, which reinterpret tradition through the aesthetic codes of contemporaneity.

There is no lack of examples, in this sense, even among designers: Robert Bronwasser, Aleksandra Gaca, above all, who move within the perimeter of research balancing between craftsmanship and futuristic technology

Pure tradition is embodied, for the most part, by companies engaged in the production of wood and upholstered furniture. Brands such as Nilson Beds, Vonn Jansen, Item, and in textiles, Halle Design and LCD Textiles, draw their lifeblood from heritage, understood as a wealth of experience and know-how to draw on, synonymous with quality and product longevity.

Special collaborations: Catawiki / Curated by Nicole Uniquole
Thanks to the credibility that Masterly and the work of its curator have earned over the years, there is no lack of prestigious and unexpected collaborations at every edition. This year it is the turn of Catawiki, the best known and most authoritative online auction site for special objects, founded in Holland in 2008.

Catawiki’s presentation at Palazzo Giureconsulti brings together a series of creators who have been commissioned by Nicole Uniquole and the platform’s design experts to design an object inspired by an iconic piece of furniture by world-famous designers such as Eames and Le Corbusier. The works of the designers, among others, Stefan Scholten, Laurene Guarneri, Mae Engelgeer, Nynke Koster, are on display at Masterly throughout the week, and will star in the online auction entitled ‘Homage’.

The Masterly agenda
The week’s programme will be intense. In addition to the now traditional appointments of the event, this year there are more: the Conference Room on the first floor is the venue for a series of meetings in which the artists and designers of the Roots exhibition, starting with the creator of the project, Simone van Es, talk about their experimental projects, providing the public with elements to deepen and better understand the themes and outcomes of their research.

On Wednesday morning the Architects’ Talk features speaker Federico Pompignoli, of PMP Architecture. This studio was founded after a long collaboration with OMA, during which he was project leader of the Fondazione Prada Milano and worked on multiple projects such as the extension of the Buffalo Museum of Art, the new American headquarters of the Phillips auction house in New York, and the Garage Museum in Moscow.

Could Dutch flowers ever not make an appearance? Of course not! They are found on the façade, softening the columns, inside the building, scattered throughout the exhibition rooms. And as has been the case since the first edition, at the end of the event, on Sunday 21 April, the Milanese are invited to Palazzo Giureconsulti to receive a specimen of Orchidee Netherlands handed out by Nicole and the Masterly staff.


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