Design culture is very peculiar because it makes material double as humanistic contents. Today, the rise of virtual scenarios adds a new variable to the aesthetic equation of design, which gets redefined by the visual paths that digital landscapes are opening to either replace, relate, or collide with the real world. The proliferation of augmented-reality designs and virtual objects keeps layering on material reality to the point of making it more and more “immaterially thick,” a hybrid environment where eyes are often what can touch things, whereas hands can’t do it any longer.
Re-Connect project by Istituto Marangoni students Alexia Hermelin and Alice Bouriez. The Re-Connect refuge is a secluded place, a retreat to find inner peace.
Understanding this new landscape requires an in-depth investigation from the perspective of those exposed to it, such as generation Z. For Milan Design Week 2022, Istituto Marangoni Milano Design School presents a rich lineup of events titled Expanded Universes. The purpose is to illustrate the cultural project undertaken by the school over the past few years by giving voice to digital natives – the majority of the school’s student population – and enhancing learning activities with a reflection on the central role of social media in the life of the new generations.
Phygital sofa by Istituto Marangoni alumnus Riccardo Ciofi. With a name that refers to the hybridisation of physical and digital space, this sofa was a proposal designed for furniture brand Moroso. Its modular body simulates asymmetrical elements to recall the mural aesthetic
Contemporary design culture deeply feels the need to undertake such a challenging investigation. Indeed, product design has always been a language defined by structural conditions (the “grammar” of the project) combined with expressive content (its ”poetic” value). Can design still “speak” in a meaningful way through the grammar-free language introduced by virtual experiences? This issue has been addressed explicitly by six NFT objects designed for Cappellini by some of the most talented alumni of the School of Design who belong to the Prisma group.
Abiogenesis NFT, designed by student Alice Ballabio for the Italian furniture brand Cappellini in collaboration with Istituto Marangoni Milano - The School of Design. The project aims to bring life, time and matter into the digital world. One year after acquiring an Abiogenesis NFT, you will find yourself with a completely different work of art.
Today, the design world is expanding to uncharted territories populated by solid images and intangible objects, designed for users who socialise alone via remote connections and search for the treasure of solitude they can hardly even conceive. Our daily reality is changing rapidly, and so we are; design is again about to disclose the future already embedded in our present.
Gravità Permanente (Permanent Gravity) chaise longue by alumna Giorgia Apreia, a proposal designed for the Memphis brand, whose design language of solemnly geometric shapes and bright colours turns out to be in harmony with the contemporary visual scene by 3D artists
Product Design Program Leader, Milan