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Tortona Design Week: architecture, design and art in the heart of Milan

From April 9 to 14, Tortona will open the doors of its ateliers to the public, who can explore the district thanks to dozens of cultural initiatives

Fashion, design, cocktails and glamour events. If someone asked you to match an Italian city to these four elements, what city would you choose? Milan, of course. And what better time to enjoy this all if not “Milano Design Week”, a six-day event during which ateliers, showrooms and art galleries open their doors and tens of thousands of people converge from every part of the world. Born spontaneously in the 1980s thanks to the companies in the furniture and industrial design fields, Milano Design Week is held every year concurrently with the Salone del Mobile. Two events that draw hordes of visitors and make people walking through the streets of the city feel like they are in an open, cosmopolitan and innovative city, from a cultural point of view too.

One of the events that is most emblematic of the Fuorisalone spirit (another name for Milano Design Week), is the Tortona Design Week, which borrows its name from the district in which it is located. Built as an industrial and working class neighbourhood around the 1960s, Tortona has progressively become a dynamic zone associated with the world of fashion and design. Since 2000, the area has cyclically opened its doors to the merely curious and to creative spirits of every kind. This is not just a cliché. Laboratories, exhibition spaces and boutiques are physically opened to the public who can thus come into contact with realities that are often hidden and which, like an ephemeral flower, display their full beauty for only a short time before disappearing again.

DBOX by Fabio Novembre, near the Magna Pars Hotel and Event Space

Tortona Design Week 2019 was distinguished by the contemporary quality of the new proposals and the presence of two big names in design: Fabio Novembre and Aldo Cibic.

A professional born in 1966, and the author among other things of the new logo and headquarters of the A.C. Milan football club, Fabio Novembre designed the innovative container of ideas DBOX at the Magna Pars Hotel and Event Space. The visitor can walk through various spaces divided into chromatic areas, a conceptual project made to house diverse expressions of design, art and shared lifestyles. Aldo Cibic, born in 1955 and one of the founders of the Memphis collective between 1981 and 1987, chose one of his most recent works (the Savona 18 Suites) to exhibit a diversified sequence that seeks to represent an aesthetic of vitality. Photographs, drawings and installations string together a story in images between forms, colours and different functions.

To offer the public a new perspective from which to interpret the contemporary, the organizers of TDW focused on the level of innovation in the proposals. A series of info-points, designed by Alfonso Femia, an architect who founded Atelier(s) AF517, will dot the neighbourhood. These signage towers were designed to become territorial landmarks along the boundaries of the district, as well as an important source of information. They will also serve as a means for sharing and telling the story of the six-day Milanese event.

Augmented reality

Continuing to explore the innovations that will change the appearance of the urban fabric in less than three weeks, the augmented reality project developed in collaborations with Sense – immaterial Reality, certainly stood out. Pointing one’s device at one of the markers located in the various exhibition spaces will give access to experiential content conceived specifically for the event.

Architecture is represented thanks to the free Architours organized by the Associazione Tortona Area Lab

In a two-hour tour, visitors participating in the initiative will visit three locations emblematic of the unbreakable bond between fashion and design. Professionals, students and fans will be taken to tour the Silos Armani, Arnaldo Pomodoro’s Labyrinth and the Fondazione Ferrè. And how better to end your tour of TDW if not at the Casello Giallo? This space, conceived to offer the public an oasis for the cross-pollination between performance art and street food, faces the old railroad station at Porta Genova and is an excellent location for drinks in the pulsating heart of Design Week.


translation by Olga Barmine

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