Italian magazine Interni’s exhibition, Mutant Architecture & Design, opened at the Università degli Studi di Milano on Monday. This exhibit has become the most anticipated of the big urban installations that have characterized Milan Design Week and draws the biggest talent. It shows best at night and this year in particular, as it coincides with the bi-annual lighting exhibition, Euroluce, the lighting is even more spectacular.
The settings – the courtyards of the university’s Ospedale Maggiore building, dating back to 1456 – are magical. In the main one, works by prominent Italian and international architects and designers, fabricated in collaboration with Italian manufacturers and producers, are arrayed around the square. Jacopo Foggini’s huge plastic orb pulses with colour, light and vapour like a giant asteroid that has magically entered our atmosphere intact. In Carlo Colombo’s Green Tower, a garden hangs inside the courtyard created by the staggered frames piled up to the sky.
But the biggest delights are reserved for smaller courtyards still out of sight. In one, Zaha Hadid has created a hillscape out of thin sheets of Lea Ceramiche ceramic – a digital dreamscape lit up with strip lighting that seems captured by long exposure. In another, that consummate lighting magician Ingo Maurer has created what some might think is a nightmare. But it’s worth the ticket – this one’s of the highest quality. A tilted one-room house in pitch-black glows from within with an unearthly red light. Peering inside reveals a square void in the floor that glows green and seems infinite. Above the square hangs a golden egg-shaped pendulum that moves back and forth. Entrancing – but what can it mean? Not much time to figure that out as the fair itself and the hundreds of other installations and product exhibits going on this week make it necessary to grab a photo and figure it out later.