Good Morning Milan!


This is always an exciting trip for me.  Well, truth be told,  I’ve always loved to pick up and go … wherever.  Car, bus, plane.  Doesn’t matter.  Its and adventure to depart the daily routine.  A chance to see with new perspective!

A few layovers, one change of airports via bus in New York, and before I knew it … I woke up as the flight was descending over the Alps into Milano!  One crazy-slow guy checking passports in my lane is all that keeps me from picking up by bag off the carousel. 

Oops, he shut his door right as I stepped up!  I’ve been eyeing the guy next to him was shouting for people to run through his line and the satisfying “thunk” of his approval stamp at oh say “allegro” pace.  It’s actually been kind of comedic relief.  He got frustrated with the immense gaggle of arriving passengers and decided to just bull them all through.  I put on my turn signal and merge into that lane.  Aahh!  The accepted me!  I’m in!  Good to go!

Its spring here, just like back home in Oklahoma …

And I’m lucky to arrive to a clear, mild, sunny day.  Spring can be wet, but they’ve all been telling me its been a little bit warm lately.  I show up to meet Attilio who is renting me his apartment for the week.

As with much of Milan … the treasure is behind the buildings that line the streets … inside, there are magnificent courtyards everywhere.  Its the hidden city.  I’m up on the second floor where all the plants line the walk.

Behind this door.  The light is fantastic … its quiet and the windows are all open to catch the breeze.  Atillio and his wife have offered to come cook dinner for me tonight.  I can make myself right at home here … walk down to the corner for groceries (my Gringo habit of early breakfast is not something one does outside of hotels here), listen to a selection from Attilio’s CD collection.  This is nice!

I’m right by Parco Sempione and all the Milanese seem to be out enjoying the weather, running, walking the dog, etc.  I toodle right by the Castello…

… on my way to the Palazzo Dell’Arte which houses the Triennale exhibition.  I’m coming here because I’ve read about a fantastic design exhibit called “Dream Factories” about the people and ideas behind Italian design.  Let’s go upstairs and into the show space.

And the show does not disappoint

It’s meant to create a dialogue about design, but particularly what makes this region of the world so singular in that context.  Within a 50-mile radius of this city, there are a special group of small to medium companies, often are generations old, whose output is characterized by fine craftsmanship produced with the aid of machinery.  These companies lead the world of design because they take creative risks that the majority of mass-production companies would never dream of.

I especially love the use of the good gardener metaphor on the wall which greets you as you enter.  “The metaphor of the good gardener, sensitive, attentive and patient, can be helpful in understanding the practice of Italian Design Factories  The good gardener sows, of course, what he things is right, but above all he tills the ground carefully to receive the new crops and takes particular care when the first shoots begin to appear, nurturing them carefully to enable them to express the potential they have within them.  Moreover, the good gardener knows he can count on unexpected seeds brought to him by the wind.  Good products usually arrive when they want to.  It is difficult to produce works of art to order.  Despite all the efforts, good projects follow their own rhythms, which are often inscrutable and can rarely be planned … good projects cannot be commissioned at will:  there has to be inspiration and sensibility, and if these are lacking there’s nothing to do but wait.” 

Can you imagine this as a corporate way of thinking?

The exhibit also shows all kinds of innovative results of the Italian Design Factories.  One of my favorites is Parentesi from Flos.

Though it’s a consummate exercise in simplicity … it creates surprise and wonder.  The taut steel cable (due to the rubberized lead weight on the floor) creates just enough friction with the double curved tube holding the light that you can simply slide it vertically wherever you like and it will hold its position perfectly!

What a great way to start the adventure!  A little eye candy and brain candy all rolled up.  Add a happy stomach … and you’re beginning to get the feel for Milan!

Stay tuned … the camera is coming with me everywhere!  Tonight off to see the new Giorgetti showroom, then dinner with my landlords … and finally a full night’s sleep.  Tomorrow morning its off to Bergamo to visit the Alias factory, then off to the fairgrounds to see the lights fantastic!

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5 Responses to “Good Morning Milan!”

  1. hotelswelove Says:

    Thanks for the post. I really like the idea of the ‘good gardener’. It suggests pride and patience…and a bit of trusting in the Gods! A nice reminder of craftsmanship in a very hyped event where it’s easy to get distracted by the razzle dazzle!

    • brianhughes Says:

      You know … I loved this particular idea myself because it opens that door to experimentation, intuition, and the poetry of the whole thing! Now, that’s not to say that I don’t appreciate a little razzle dazzle as well. Thanks for your comment!

  2. Mom Says:

    Loved ALL the photos and commentary right down to the crazy baggage check. That sixth grader who sold fire extinguishers to help finance a class trip from California to Washington DC and points east, then hopped on the plane and never looked back, is still at it. Xo

    • brianhughes Says:

      Somehow that 6th grade trip was not even on my radar, but you know … I was so damn excited about that trip. I loved it! Maybe I was bitten and smitten way back then in Mr. Youngdale’s class. That was truly a lucky opportunity and to this day anytime I get the chance to explore I feel that luck all over again! Thanks for reminding me Mom! Love, B.

  3. Melissa Gandall Says:

    What a great place to stay! I love how you just dive into the city and get going. I can’t wait to hear about Saloni-it is always so outrageous. Give us a post on Tom Dixon’s restaurant recolate for Saloni….he never disappoints.


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