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Published by Sugar & Cream, Thursday 12 August 2021

Text and images courtesy of MoscaPartners

Curated by MoscaPartners

From September 4th– 10th, 2021, international exhibition Design Variations 2021, curated by MoscaPartners, will gather some international protagonists of design and architecture to unveil their work interpreting the historic residence of Palazzo Litta during Milano Design Week 2021.

DESIGN VARIATIONS 2021 4 – 10 September 2021
Palazzo Litta, Corso Magenta 24, Milan
Press preview: 4 september 10am-4pm | upon anti-Covid certificate
Opening hours: 5-10 September 10am-8pm
Opening hours: 5-10 September 10am-8pm

Design Variations 2021 virtual tour available on

Caterina Mosca & Valerio Castelli – Mosca Partners

Participants : Casarialto, Politecnico di Milano, Fangrosa, East China Normal University, Korea Craft & Design Foundation, Mircea Anghel, Edelgrund, Tensoforma, Codega, Orografie, Rubinacci Napoli, Supermama, Babled Edition, Foris, Dejena Kabiljo, Wogg, Scapin Collezioni.

The Main Courtyard will be the theatre of the project of an international design studio that offers a dialogue and comparison with the solemnity of the place and the search for new interpretations.

Francisco and Manuel Aires Mateus

Taking up the challenge is Studio Aires Mateus, founded by brothers Manuel and Francisco Aires Mateus in Lisbon in 1988, where they do business, teach and design. Their architecture is characterized by its purity of form and the ingenious combination of solids and voids to define space. “Emptiness” becomes the focal point of their work as can be seen in projects such as the House in Leiria (2010), the EDP Headquarters (2015), the Grândola Meeting Center (2016), the Faculty of Architecture, Tornai (2017), the House in Monsaraz (2018) and the House in Melides I ( 2019). Over the years the brothers have become culturally important, not only in their native Portugal but also around the world. The studio has won a number of prestigious awards such as the Pessoa Prize (2017) and the European Prize for Contemporary Architecture – Mies Van der Rohe Award. In 2010, 2012, 2016 and 2018 the studio also took part in the Biennale di Architettura in Venice.

Babled Edition – Jisamwe Community Chair & Azoici composition

The studio offers the temporary installation A beach in the Baroque. The project underlines both the need for a renewed state of cohesion and the need to simply have some fun through the playful juxtaposition of the installation with the surroundings such as the obviously temporary pop- up nature of the site-specific work in contrast with the permanence of the Courtyard and the palazzo, the visual levity of the exhibit in contrast with the cultural formality of the location, the bright colours in contrast with the sobriety of the architectural materials.

The central element is an oversized cabin: a Supercabin equipped and customizable in its uses. Following the presentation at Palazzo Litta, it will become an icon of the most beautiful beaches of the world.

Casarialto Atelier – barena mosaic stool amn3, Cotisso glass, dan clouds wood and mirror tray

The Supercabin prototype is fruit of the collaboration of three companies, in which each partner offered their own know-how to achieve a high quality product aimed at a high profile international audience. Canducci Group srl, leading company in the creation of made-to-measure wood structures for building construction, coordinates the project and created the prototype.

Soltech srl, leader in fastening systems and metallic connections, created the steel frame of the piece. DiegoFabbri Outdoor Solutions collaborated in the project as an outdoor and seaside furnishings consultant.

Codega – lampade da muro | lampade da terra | Pisana da tavolo 

Eterno Ivica, which works in the building construction component field, has launched a series of height-adjustable supports for the platform holding the installation.

The Noble first floor, the Salone d’Onore and the Copper Room of the historic Palazzo will be animated by projects of numerous participants: universities, institutions, companies, designers and creators of unique pieces.

Dejana Kabiljo – Buildings, Sugarcubes

The Copper Room will be animated by designs of the Casarialto and Tensoforma brands. Casarialto Atelier is a collaboration that Venetian Casarialto launched with some of the most important names in Italian craftsmanship with the aim of elevating and enhancing antique and complex hand-crafting processes, giving life to a series of unique products, the result of different skills led by the art director Catherine Urban. The result is admired in the luxurious objects, fruit of shared knowledge that mixes hand-craftsmanship of glass, mosaic, mirror, gold leaf, wood and steel.

The In-Tenso project by Tensoforma transfers company experience in architectural coverings to that of furnishing elements: the lightness of the Tensoforma structures is concentrated in the design of panels for interiors, some of which are designed by Gio Latis and Mario Trimarchi, conceived to separate the space and interpret it according to needs in constant change, suggesting a new exploration of the heart of the buildings.

Presented by Zipblind

The base of the Staircase houses Buildings, Sugarcubes by Dejana Kabiljo, a wall made of sugar that tackles the issues of growth and greed in the world of real estate and the male predominance in the construction industry. Although sweetness is often associated with femininity, sugar, the quickest source of energy, was also one of the commodities that drove the brutality of early capitalism. The project is based on the dream of prosperity but also on the fear and the danger behind it, just like the magical fairy tales, trying to teach us a lesson.

East China Normal University – Sun Fanding | Whisper (Chen Zhaoyun) | Hui (Chen Zhaoyun)

Proceeding to the mezzanine, Emmanuel Babled presents Design Journeys: Matters from Murano and Zanzibar, that marks two fundamental stages in the path of the designer to the craftsmen who maintain the most ancient skills. Andrea Zilio in Murano and the Jisamwe Community of Zanzibar give form to blown-glass vases and chairs created using only local materials, to transform design into an instrument to narrate authentic stories.

The Noble first floor opens with Design is Contamination, fruit of the experimental Landscape and Interior Spatial Design 2 workshop, held by Michele De Lucchi with Francesca Balena Arista and Mario Greco with the collaboration of Marco De Santi, Giada Boromello and Francesco Antonelli of the Scuola di Design of the Politecnico di Milano. The students who took part in the project reflected on the concept of contamination, to develop spaces that trigger emotions and inspire reflection. The spaces are then illustrated with architectural models and short videos.

Fangorosa cotto umbro, cemento siciliano, cotto variegato

Proceeding, German company Edelgrund offers Edelgrund Forest, conceived by Paolo Giordano and Ouwen Mori: a path from visual and tactile suggestions in the world of kilim rugs, originally from the Mazandaran region of Iran. Edelgrund creates kilim rugs in the homes of the actual weavers, drawing on clear geometric patterns that combine stripes and colours. The local artisans use carded and vegetable dyed wool according to a vision based on sustainability.

The route through the Palazzo continues with the Subtraction group exhibition curated by Paolo Volpato, which puts three Italian brands and their different ways of living the space into dialogue.

Foris – Stile Gotico, Stile Fiorito, Stile Veneziano

Fangorosa offers its research on the craftsmanship of Italian surfaces in versions of Sicilian cement, Umbrian terracotta and variegated terracotta. The three materials, dry-mounted on the three levels that make up the setting, surpass their primary function, elevating themselves to an element of contemplation.

Foris, design illumination born from the meeting of solid experience in the lighting concept sector and passion for art and architecture, launches its new collection of Stile suspension lamps, inspired by the timeless aesthetic of Venetian architecture. The luminous objects are configured as a sculpture of lights and adapt to living areas where they create relaxing and soft atmosphere thanks to the insertion of LED lights inside and at the ends of the profiles.

KOREA CRAFT AND DESIGN FOUNDATION – Sungho Cho, Transition of traces | Joonyong Kim, Light in Midnight and Ligt of time | Jonggun Park’s Jango and Keumhee Lim’s Mangsu Dahoi

Rubinacci Napoli presents its furnishing elements, fruit of the brand’s collaboration with important design studios and witness to their solid experience in the crafting of hardwood. The chaise-longue designed by Baldessari e Baldessari, the coffee table by Studio 74ram, the mirror designed by gumdesign and the freestanding cabinet conceived by Daniele della Porta, find formal correspondence with the space and the elements they dialogue with.

Supermama invites a reflection on the objects of daily life through the Social Wares installation: plates, porcelain, clothes are identifying elements of a culture and allow, at an immediate level, communication and comparison between people. Supermama focuses on these products ensuring that design can make objects useful to society: the installation is curated by Studio Juju and displays the works of designers Edwin Low, Biro, Gim Tok, Studio Juju and Niki Koh.

Orografie – Martinelli Venezia

Lose Control by artist and designer Mircea Anghel is a sequence of furniture pieces crafted using two contrasting material elements: highly treated, hand shaped wood parts and exploded metal volumes. The process and the inherent uncertainty of the outcome is a defining characteristic of the work. Alongside the furniture pieces, the exhibition will feature a film that recorded the production process.

The Swiss brand WOGG animates the Hall of Mirrors, presenting its new collection of furnishing elements, designed by Christophe Marchand. The bar cabinet, the wardrobe, and a variety of sideboards in different sizes are enhanced by the WOGG 75 patent, a space-saving roller shutter system that adapts to many needs thanks to a thin and flexible aluminum profile. They are objects that interpret the brand’s attention to the most innovative engineering solutions on materials.

POLITECNICO DI MILANO – Contamination is Contatto, Anna Albanese, Martina Laporta, Carlotta Schiavone | Contamination is digital entanglement_Jinyu Qian, Yuan Tian, Wenqi Wu, Peishuan Yu | Design is Contamination

Orografie will populate two rooms of the first floor with its own projects: the new Sicilian brand bases its vision on a hybrid design, with the aim of connecting analog and digital and defining new behaviours and rituals with its creations. For Milan Design Week 2021, Orografie will be presenting fifteen projects by fifteen designers including Francesco Faccin, Lanzavecchia+Wai, Martinelli

Venezia, and Elena Salmistraro, all ready to demonstrate that unfamiliar images and objects can immediately become familiar.

Rubinacci Napoli – Chaise longue Dama Design by Baldessari e Baldessari | specchio Attraverso Design by GumDesign | tavolino Bolgheri Design by Studio 74ram | mobile contenitore Casson Design by Daniele Della Porta

The symbiotic planet of the Scuola di Design ECNU (East China Normal University) expresses the cultural and educational approach of the institution, founded on the interpretation of humanistic knowledge, creative freedom and technological innovation. The student participants, under the guidance of professor and designer Dante Donegani, have created fashion and furnishing objects as well as video installations exploring the surrounding world and seeking its place in the symbiosis of man, nature and culture.

Lamps with a Purpose includes the new Serena collection by Codega, a series of multifunctional interior lamps designed with the aim of total wellbeing. Starting from materials, the lamps don’t just illuminate by adapting to tables and walls but serve a silent function of sanitizing the environments. A collection conceived to redesign our time and find a long lost intimate dimension.

SCAPIN COLLEZIONI – Sketch Elena Salmistrar | Sketch Matteo Cibic

The collaboration of the furnishing and accessories brand Scapin Collezioni with designers Elena Salmistraro and Matteo Cibic has led to About to Land, visionary collection enhanced by the staging curated by Studio MILO. The imagination of the two designers, united in the precision craftsmanship of Scapin Collezioni, generate tables, seats and furnishing elements that emerge from a flow of pure creativity.

Korea Craft and Design Foundation is an institution that conducts its own research into the space shared by traditional craftsmanship, design and culture. The All about attitude project brings into discussion the idea that craft is practised by human beings for other human beings and enhances the relation that exists between craftsmen, tools, nature and workplaces, observed as a single ecosystem. The result is a team effort that unites numerous artists in the creation of very different objects, able to open a window onto Korean culture.

Supermama – Blue Collection | Shales: FUGU | Biro: F.CLASSIC COLLECTION

Once the path through the Noble main floor of the Palazzo is complete, the Cortile d’Onore hosts installation A beach in the baroque, designed by Manuel Aires Mateus. It finds reference in the food and beverage context thanks to Taste of Milano, which has worked in research and offering in the food and wine sector for more than ten years. For the occasion of Design Variations 2021, it presents its Taste beach menu, a mixture of flavors inspired by the ocean and summer: a hymn to relax without borders that enhances the beach as a place of aggregation and socializing.

The food & beverage area is also equipped with B&B benches and Ethimo tables and chairs, outdoor furniture partner of the project.

Tensoforma – Mario Trimarchi Design : Heavesdoor | Pannello Gio Latis

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