Bla Bla: Virtual Discussion Between Makers

Bla Bla: Virtual Discussion Between Makers

Fabbrica del Vapore – Via Procaccini, 4 – Milano.

A co-production between the Department of Culture, Fashion & Design of the City of Milan, and Milano Makers

Curator: Alessandro Mendini

Exhibit designer: Duilio Forte

Milan, April 2013

The concept is the comparison of several hundred verbally expressed opinions on the subject of independent production. A compilation of this breadth has never been made before, because Makers typically act in isolation. Theirs is an introversive modus operandi; they tend to work without exchange with like-minded individuals. For this reason and for the lack of an adequate network, the phenomenon of independent production remains without a suitably fertile subsoil to encourage the kind of discussion that leads to the cultural growth of a coordinated system. We believe that this exhibition will be a stimulus for the shaping of critical awareness. This is an assembly, a virtual discussion about autonomous production.


We are currently seeing a shift in the visual arts and a reassessment of industrial processes. Our attention has turned toward the arts tout court, and the definition of design itself is dissolving inside that of the arts. Design history has been absorbed within art history, whose trajectory encompasses a great deal more time and space. Today’s “product” contains and reflects many considerations and mechanisms that have nothing to do with “design” or “serial reproduction”. If Pop made industrial objects rise to the status of sculptures, exaggerating their appearances and eliminating their function, anti-Pop layers an artistic soul on top of the object’s functional soul, making them coincide. This is like Pop, only of the opposite sign. The Maker’s project is an expressive one, communicating values and themes that abound with aspects that are much fresher than mere design formalism. The Maker’s project connects and relates to the most hidden elements of craftsmanship, materials, the virtual world and inventors.

Precedents of this design attitude are found in the subtle meanderings of the Omega group, the Deutsches Werkbund, the Wiener Werkstätte, Futurism and naturally, the Renaissance, all from which they take on the literary sense. Precedents are also found in ateliers where the paradoxical extremes of utopian technology are explored, freeing a multidisciplinary energy of aggregation. The common denominator is the objective: surroundings that are functional but ritualized in their aesthetics. The Maker follows these threads (which are tied to what is real) to their limit. In order to obtain ritualized aesthetics, the designer and the producer turn their minds into creative laboratories. What takes place here is visual exploration; experimentation; the radical redefinition of the relationship between art, crafts and industry; a cultured and critical approach to materials; both new and ancient techniques and decoration; and geography-based production – in substance, the development and discovery of situations that are suited to a complex, unprecedented and highly elaborate system of new design connections. In order to reach this objective, it is automatic that industrial procedures and marketing techniques will be dislocated, making way for methods of making limited editions and prototyping – in other words, heading toward the distinguishing of thematic spheres linked to stimulating behavioral evolution, and not linked to the traditional standards of the production chain and sales. The design project will expand into a vast abstract and narrative program, where each single object assumes the role of a character in a storyline, an epic saga.

This is where it becomes useful to have a vision that is editorial and can bring individual objects and inventions into dialectical contact – an editorial vision that itself is configured as an invention of aesthetic para-design. Each separate case and object becomes part of a whole, and the technical instruments used in para-design are the Web, printing, communication systems, installations, events, messages, advertising and more.

More than individual objects, this is about orchestration. Species and subspecies. Here, the work of the designer-maker consists in the radicalization of three hypotheses:

One: that the object is usable and contemplative in equal parts.

Two: that the object is understood as a distinct unit within a specific techno-aesthetic galaxy.

Three: that this phenomenology aims in its entirety to arrive at the utopian objective of a socially perfect piece of work.


-All Makers interested in this subject matter are invited: designers, schools, institutions, associations and international organizations.

-We ask each Maker to express verbally her/his way of looking at autonomous production. Each Maker records her/his own declaration on video and sends the digital result to the organizers.

-The subject matter can be discussed theoretically, pragmatically, commercially, ideologically, autobiographically, etcetera.

-The maximum length of each recording is three minutes.

-The installation features large screens, mounted side-by-side, which project the Makers’ declarations in a continuous loop.

-The exhibition will be a series of “talking heads” that establishes a video constellation of design confessions.


A series of small exhibitions will accompany the videotaped design confessions. They will be connected to subjects that interest the Makers, and are currently still being defined.

Alessandro Mendini

December 2012 – January 2013


2 comments for “Bla Bla: Virtual Discussion Between Makers

  1. Cesare Castelli
    1 Febbraio 2013 at 18:37

    Ciao Novella,
    se hai problemi sentiamoci

  2. 3 Aprile 2013 at 15:58

    My spouse and I stumbled over here from a different website and thought I might as well check things out. I like what I see so now i am following you. Look forward to going over your web page repeatedly.

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