Discovering Design

Hey world, I’m back in town, literally. I’ve been quite busy over the last week because I moved back to England and I have started classes on Monday. Pretty tough. Being back at uni is a weird sensation: it means summer is officially over, winter is coming and I will have to start caring about my future again. SO STRESSFUL. However, before coming back to the north, I had a lovely week with my family and friends and I took the opportunity to visit a quite new museum: the Museo del Design in Via Borsi 9, Milan. So, in this post I want to briefly talk you through this beautiful experience I made. Let’s start.

I discovered the existence of this museum when I got lost (my boyfriend is actually to blame) around the area of the Navigli one hot afternoon of August. I saw a glass construction and I was intrigued by it; I looked around and I saw signs reading “Museo del Design 1880-1980”. Amazing, I thought! Finally a proper museum dedicated only to a fairly new art: design. I have to be honest with you: I don’t know much about design, but I have always been interested in it. So one of the last days I was home I went there with my mum to have a look around and enjoy a relaxing sunny day.

The Museo of Design offers a collection wanted by Raffaello Biagetti, a previous painter very interested in design in period when design was not even a thing. Biagetti, with the help of Giovanni Klaus Koenig, Filippo Alison and Giuseppe Chigiotti, created an amazing collection in 1988, involving many famous designers such as Gae Aulenti. The museum first opened in Ravenna but mainly because of its hidden location it didn’t get much notice; then last year the collection was brought to Milan for the Salone del Mobile and it became a permanent collection in summer 2015 with its personal museum. The collection has more than 130 pieces realized by the most prominent designers of the time, starting its journey from the Art Nouveau with Mackintosh and Thonet until the second postwar with mainly Italian designers.

The museum is  very well-designed (well, it couldn’t be otherwise): the space is not too big and the pieces are set in a well-organized manner on black stands. The atmosphere  is modern with a little touch of vintage in the appearance of some design elements, which have been used and consumed by the owners. Among the pieces I liked the most there is the chair “Midway” realized by Van Der Rohe in steel and textile, the Cradle designed by Peter Keler who was a representative of the Bauhaus movement and the super famous armchair by Alessandro Mendini which was one the first to be all decorated by hand.

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It is very interesting to look around the museum: I actually realized how innovative these pieces were for the time they came out and how many ideas are still used today in our modern concepts of design. Also the use of specific techniques, materials or simply shapes is something that was completely different from the style that dominated society until the end of the 19th century. I know design might sound simply part of everyday life, but I do really recommend you to go and visit the museum because it is an experience that will make you think about the changes in history and society. You will then probably need to search for some background information about the artists and the pieces they invented (I had to do it), but it is surely very stimulating to get to know more about our own heritage and creative opportunities. So have a stroll around and enjoy the beauty of design.

Address: Giosuè Borsi, 9 Milano

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Have a lovely weekend,

Giulia

Details are everything

Hey lovelies, this week has been pretty weird, in the sense that I spent more time at home than at work because I didn’t feel too well. As I told you, I had my wisdom tooth removed and it’s been pretty painful all week long. Anyway, now I feel better and I wanted to write a post about details. Yep, you heard right, details! I am a huge fan of details, of those little elements that seem to be so small, but in reality they make the real difference.

When I was young and I had to write some essays for school, I usually wrote very short sentences like “The house is pretty” or “The dog is barking” and that was it. When my mum checked my homework, she always tried to make me write more, to make me enrich the sentence. So “The house is pretty” became “The big house at the end of the street is very pretty because it has many decorations around it”. You get what I mean? She made me add the details to the sentence because they were meaningful and the real key to a successful story. So, my essays were longer, better and most importantly, more detailed.

As I grew up and my essays grew longer, I started to understand by myself the beauty of details. I started to look at things under a different light, to appreciate the small things around the big ones. In this post I want to make three examples that exemplify the value of details. They are very simple and I’m sure everyone knows what I’m talking about, but  what works for me is to read something I already have a knowledge of, in this way I can fully reflect on it. So, let’s start!

The first example is linked to my beloved art. I love paintings, I love walking around museums and art galleries, I love standing in front of an artwork and simply stare at it. And it is exactly while I’m standing in front of a painting and my mind is spinning and wandering that I notice small but essential elements: the small black ribbon around Olympia’s neck in Manet’s painting, the black train in most of De Chirico’s works or the colorful brushstrokes in Van Gogh’s self-portraits. All these elements have specific meanings that allow you, the observer to understand the story and link the information about the painter, his life and the painting itself. Moreover, in art also the colour plays a symbolic role: red represents the human passions while white is a symbol of purity. Only by carefully observing the artworks it is possible to detect all these small details that make the difference, that make the artwork an amazing artwork. I want to close this first example with another painting by Jan Van Eyck: the Arnolfini Portrait. Here, a couple of lovers is elegantly posing in front of the painter, but the interesting detail about the whole composition is the small mirror that reflects the back of the lovers and other two unknown people. Who are they? What are they doing? Details are made in order to challenge us, the observers and to make us think about the artworks, about the artists and above all, about life, our life.

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Van Gogh Self Portrait with Grey Felt Hat

 

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Van Gogh Self Portrait

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Arnolfini Portrait

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Detail of the Arnolfini Portrait

The second example is connected to fashion. We’re in the right week to talk about fashion and so I wanted to take inspiration from a beautiful dress I saw in magazines some years ago. I am talking about a Chanel dress which is part of the Resort Collection of 2013. I literally love this dress because it’s simple but at the same time very chic. And here it’s visible the importance of details again: the white dress would be insignificant without the beautiful red details that seem to create a majestic belt around the model, as well as the elements above the shoulders. It’s simplicity with a touch of class.

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Chanel Resort Collection 2013

Another interesting example which is more up to date comes from Moschino fashion show. The designer managed to recreate a very funny detail: do you girls remember when we used to play with paper dolls and in order to dress them up we had to bend the little white paper edges around their bodies? Well, he used the same idea to design the new collection. In this case, this little detail, the white paper edges, recalls a specific period of life, the idea of childhood, when everything looks possible and funny. Details, even if they are very small, can recreate atmospheres, underlining the real meaning of something. By looking at Moschino’s dress we could have imagined that it was linked to fairy tales, princesses and this type of world, but only thanks to the white details we actually see what the desired outcome is. And I think the idea is seriously brilliant! It immediately reminded me of my happy period of life, when I used to spend my long afternoons playing with my paper dolls and making up stories. Oh, the beautiful life!

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Moschino Spring/Summer 2017 Fashion Show

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Moschino, Spring/Summer 2017 Fashion Show

Finally, the last example is pretty general: by looking around us, we can find many different places where there are interesting details. Mostly, when we travel or we’re discovering a place, we are more attentive to catch details. They can be decorations on the street, patterns on the facade of a building or simply the drawing on a tablecloth of a restaurant. The common denominator is that, no matter what they are, details impress us and beautify the world, every time. By walking around Rome, I found interesting elements I wanted to photograph as well as by visiting the Triennale in Milan, because they were something peculiar that I wanted to remember and use for future projects. Inspiration comes from everywhere.

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I guess that’s it about details. Hope you appreciated it and now I’m gonna enjoy the last remaining hours of a lazy Sunday before Monday comes up again!

Have a nice evening!

Giulia

 

The Millinery Shop

 

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The Millinery Shop by Edgar Degas

Good morning guys, as you can see I’m already back trying to keep my promise of posting more regularly. Yesterday here in Milan there was the VFNO but unfortunately (as every year) I couldn’t go because I was sick (I had my wisdom tooth removed last week and it still hurts so much!). So, rather than complain and feel sad about it, I decided to share with you a beautiful painting by Edgar Degas which I think relates to the ongoing Milan Fashion Week.

My idea is to share every now and then some paintings or sculptures and write down their description, in this way if you like art (I do!) you can contribute to the discussion and let me know what you think about the artist and the artworks or simply get an insight of the artworks.

So, I wanted to start this little new experiment with a painting I didn’t know much about, so, I have to be honest, I had to search for more information, but I liked it at first sight. Surprise, surprise it’s not the usual subject of the dancers by Degas! The artwork is “The Millinery Shop” by Edgar Degas which is located at the Art Institute of Chicago. As you can see from the painting, a woman, the milliner, is checking on a new hat she’s probably made. She hasn’t noticed we are looking at her from above and she’s completely immersed in her job. All around her there are wonderful hats with beautiful decorations. The three hats in the foreground are quite clear: even though the brushstrokes are slightly undefined, the hats are perfectly recognizable. However, the two hats that lie in the background are less visible for two reasons: first because the brushstrokes are less defined and second because the colors Degas used blend with the brown of the table and the floor.

By a quick look at the painting we immediately catch what is happening, the main scene, while the background is completely blurred. We can imagine there’s a window or a glass door because of the light blue, but we can’t be totally sure about our assumption. And that’s the beauty of art: you need to use your imagination in order to go further and give a sense to what you’re looking at. In the Millinery Shop, Degas focuses our attention on the woman and her hats, her beautiful and refined creations, while the background is less relevant and observers can use their imagination to define it.

The painting was made between 1879 and 1886, a period during which Degas made a lot of paintings portraying the work of the milliners. He was a very refined artist, he wasn’t linked to a specific artistic movement; of course he had some influences from the Impressionists, but he was not a member of the group. He was more conventional, he worked in his studio and he liked to portray the vibrant life of the bourgeoisie.

I have chosen this specific painting because I thought it linked to a fashion theme which is perfect for this week! In the 19th century the role of the milliners had a social relevance: it was chic and trendy to go to the millinery shop and try on different hats, maybe even asking for a personal one. Women from the middle-class loved to buy and wear hats when they went to the city, went shopping or while visiting someone. A hat was an unavoidable accessory for every elegant woman. Moreover, I love the colors of the hats, their decorations and the slim figure of the milliner. It’s a painting that is portraying life, it’s portraying the habits of an entire class and a specific type of fashion.

This is it for now, I hope you liked this very brief insight into Degas’ painting and see you soon with more beautiful artworks.

Giulia

Think like an Artist!

Hey guys! I’m back this week (I know, I should have been back last week as well, but I was super busy!) with a new post about a book I read recently. I was thinking of creating a sort of book club, a small place where I can share every two weeks the last book I read and liked. I love reading and I usually read so many books over summer, so why not sharing them?

This week I’m gonna talk about a book about art called “Think Like an Artist”. The author is Will Gompertz, the BBC’s art editor. I saw the book while I was in Liverpool with my friend at the Shop of the Tate Museum and I was truly caught by it!

It’s not a story, but it is a book made of chapters that explain how to be more creative and artistic in our everyday life. We all need a little bit more of creativity and freedom, but it’s not so easy to know how to achieve it. In the introduction, the first sentence says “We are all artists” and that’s absolutely true! We can all be creative and artistic in many different ways, the only problem is only to understand how.

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The book gives the reader a new way of looking at artists: they are normal people too, like every of us. We usually think artists live in their own world, but the truth is that they live in the same world as us, but they are able to perceive the world differently and be brave.

My favorite chapter is the fourth one about the idea that artists steal. It may seem impossible or weird, but this is the reality: artists steal from other artists, get inspiration and transform it into something different, that none thought of before. They are able of combining elements that might appear completely one the opposite of the other and then generate ideas, valuable ideas. The main concept is that creativity doesn’t need something that is completely new, but simply someone who can look further than anyone else.

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What I liked about the book is the way of explaining concepts very clearly and using real examples of many different, known and unknown, artists. This is really helpful for readers like me to understand that what the writer is writing about is not crap, but mere reality and so me too I can have a chance of being more creative. I mean, if Picasso made it starting from being an unknown Spanish artist, nothing is so impossible.

Finally, I appreciated the presence of colored pictures at the end of the book that are used to reference some details the writer talked about in the book. Here you can admire the artworks by Caravaggio or “The Girl with a Pearl Earring”, the development of the linear perspective or the “Self Portrait” by Rembrandt.

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So guys, I hope you liked my small review about “Think like an Artist” and let me know what you think about it if it happens you read it!

See you and have a nice week,

Giulia

 

Photo Exhibition

 

On Saturday I visited a photo exhibition in Milan by Steve McCurry. I don’t have much to say except for the fact that everything was great: the pictures were really touching and the music in the background perfect. I know art makes people emotional, but this particular exhibition had the power to almolst make me cry.

“From these hands, a journey along the coffee trail” was the title of the show and it was in collaboration with the Italian brand Lavazza Caffè. The idea revolved around the countries which manufacture coffee and around the labour of their people. Steve McCurry is a great photographer and he managed to describe through his pictures the coffee journey from the very beginning and the personal stories of the people who live in these countries.

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The photos I liked the most were the portraits: they were so intense and the eyes so full of hope and life that I felt a shiver in my body. The colors were really bright and poignant and the atmosphere really cosy. It was like everything was right where it was.

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I am so happy I went there, I almost didn’t want to go away because the beauty that the pictures radiated was amazing. I think it’s shocking when art makes you feel full and satisfied and almost out of this world thanks to its beauty.

The exhibition was also really quite: nobody had the force to speak because every picture was so self-explanatory that silence was the only right answer.

Giulia

Photos: Steve McCurry

Art is Therapy

Hey guys!

Ecco, sono Giulia e questo nuovo blog parlerà di diverse cose: parlerà di arte, di immagini, di libri, di viaggi, di cibo e anche un po’ di moda. Insomma, parlerà di tutto ciò che “condisce” la mia vita e le vite altrui rendendole piacevoli e semplicemente più belle. Ho voluto creare il mio piccolo angolo di bellezza, dove la realtà entra solo attraverso una lente, come dire, un piccolo Eden dove c’è sempre posto per la meraviglia, le riflessioni, i pensieri.

Non so come andrà a finire, ma sono già contenta di aver iniziato questa mia prima esperienza tecnologica, data la mia scarsa abilità in materia!

Per quanto riguarda il mio primo articolo  mi sono ispirata ad una notizia letta oggi sul sito del corriere: la nipote di Picasso, Marina, ha deciso di vendere ben 7 opere del nonno, per “allontanarsi da un passato doloroso”, come scrive il giornalista. Woooooow! Ecco il mio primo pensiero, seguito da: essere la nipote di Picasso, che meraviglia! Ma ci pensate? Aver conosciuto colui che ha rinnovato l’arte, il fondatore del Cubismo, l’uomo venerato in tutti i libri di storia dell’arte. Aver potuto conoscere cosa pensava lui davvero, cosa lo spingeva a creare, come nutriva il suo Genio indiscusso. E poi, ereditare capolavori artistici invidiati da tutti i musei del mondo e poterli contemplare ogni giorno senza dover neppur pagare il biglietto. Insomma, mi sembrava un paradiso vero e proprio, quello che tutti gli appassionati di arte potevano desiderare: essere figlia d’arte. Poi ho letto bene tutto l’articolo e mi sono resa conto che dietro al genio di Picasso esisteva anche un uomo, con un’anima, dei sentimenti, dei valori. E lì, dalle descrizioni lette anche un po’ qua e là, mi sono resa conto che l’uomo era una cosa, mentre l’artista un’altra, benchè perfettamente intrecciate. L’uomo era crudele, spregiudicato, egoista e spesso infantile con le persone che lo circondavano, Marina compresa che ha deciso di tagliare tutti i ponti con il nonno; eppure le sue abilità artistiche erano uno spettacolo, una meraviglia. Picasso ha avuto molte donne, la maggior parte delle quali ha fatto una fine tragica, e la stessa nipote ha voluto allontanarsi dal peso che il cognome di Picasso comporta.

Ci ho riflettuto per un po’: io amo l’arte e ammiro gli artisti in tutte le loro sfaccettature perchè sono convinta che le loro opere e il loro lavoro sia strettamente intrecciato con il loro modo di essere. Eppure quella persona che per molti è una divinità nel campo creativo, per altri è semplicemente un uomo pieno di difetti e una “cattiva persona”. E’ buffo pensare a come cambia la prospettiva su una singola persona e di come le persone diano peso a cose diverse. Io credo negli artisti e nella loro personalità e credo che essi fossero dei geni anche perchè erano diversi da tutti gli altri, con caratteri, infanzie o vite non facili. In molti casi la loro mancanza di sentimenti “positivi” si tramutava in un capolavoro artistico, creando così questa visione ambivalente del loro essere. Ammirati eppure criticati.

Voglio dire, si può avere tutto e essere perfetti? Essere dei geni, cambiare la storia e essere ottime persone? Gli artisti mi hanno sempre affascinato per la loro forte personalità e per quelle caratteristiche bizzarre tipiche di pochi che rasentano la pazzia. Spesso mi sono chiesta se questi tratti sono perdonabili a persone come loro, perchè in fondo ci sono persone con caratteri peggiori che però non combinano nulla di buono, al contrario di loro che almeno, indirettamente, migliorano la vita di altri.

Ora chiudo con una bel quadro di Picasso(Il Sogno) e ricordate che bè, l’arte, come Parigi, è sempre una buona idea!

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Giulia.