Immersing in Italian Design

Of course you have probably already heard the big news out of Rome this past week, the announcement of the resignation of the Pope on Monday. Suddenly now there are news vans with satellite feeds camped by Castel Sant Angelo with the dome of the Vatican as the backdrop for their live broadcasts. It’s quite an interesting turn of events to happen while we are here and nothing any of us could have anticipated. I plan to hang out in the crowds by St Peters at some point during the process to observe and take photos.

This week had a little less wandering around the city since both my studio classes were meeting at the school instead of on site somewhere. We had a figure model for Sketchbook class and we did a classroom critique of our photos in Digital Imaging.

My design class didn’t meet on Thursday because we were spending three days together for the class trip to Milan. So I was on early train out of Rome Friday morning. This is the second train ride I’ve taken through Italy and I have to say that the train is a pleasant way to travel here. Tables, comfortable seats, charging plugs, big open windows to watch the scenery and speeds up to 300kmh all make for a quick comfortable ride.

We arrived in Milan about noon, bought Metro tickets and headed straight for our hotel. We had lunch in a place called Bar Magenta, a Liberta` style building, then began our walks to see more architecture and visit some design studios. Jack would have loved it here. Milan is full of interesting architecture, lots of it in Liberty, Italy’s version of Art Noveau.
Palazzo Galimberti

Saturday was spent at more studios and showrooms. I really enjoyed seeing the innovative and beautiful designs everywhere and took plenty of notes and pictures.
Versatile modular furniture

We then fought our way through the Carnivale crowds in front of La Scala through the glass covered mall to come out in front of the Duomo, the third largest church in Europe. It was very difficult to take pictures inside, not only was it huge, but it was very dark and the artificial lighting did not do it justice.

There were thousands of people everywhere celebrating, street musicians performing, children in costume throwing confetti and their parents patiently standing by.

I did a little bit of shopping, picking up a couple of inexpensive but well designed items in Alessi. I tried on two pairs of boots at one store, but they just didn’t fit well. I suppose I should have tried the Ferragamo showroom instead, they were much more reasonably priced than I expected for an extremely well made product. Another highlight was the Venini glass showroom with their jawdropping glass work.
Venini Glass

As an artist and designer, Milan offered me so much more to absorb than I expected. From the management, research and decision processes of the design studios, to the work itself, simple, beautiful and accessible, I know without a doubt that my work will be affected by this experience.

Our last day in Milan was spent at the Triennalle, a museum of design, looking at three major exhibits, one on Graphics, another about Dracula and the third about Sex, which I felt was really more of fine art than design, but interesting nonetheless. I also got a wonderful book on 20th Century design in their very well stocked bookshop.

I arrived back in Rome in the evening shortly after Gwen and Pat returned from their adventure in Camp De Fiori to hear a concert and speeches in commemoration of martyr Giordano Bruno. He was a Domenican Friar who was burned at the stake for his beliefs in other stars and the possibility of life on other planets, among other things.

Pat and Gwen also made it to a different art store to try to procure some fresco brushes for Gwen’s class. This week she did her first fresco painting, a small flower and she will be expanding more on that as her course progresses.
Gwen's first fresco

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