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Design to take a leap from sustainability to regeneration at Isola Design Week 2023
Isola Design Festival at Milan Design Week 2023
Image: Courtesy of Salvatore Pollara

Design to take a leap from sustainability to regeneration at Isola Design Week 2023

During the upcoming edition of Milan Design Week, the Isola design district will be home to exhibitions, discourses and installations that embody the tenets of regeneration.

by Anushka Sharma
Published on : Mar 13, 2023

The design community is suffused with a renewed sense of consciousness when it comes to the environmental repercussions that follow the industry. Creators across the globe are partaking in this collective shift towards slow, mindful and sustainable design. Sustainability inevitably found itself at the forefront of numerous design events that marked the 2022 calendar, including one of the most prominent design festivals, Milan Design Week 2022. But as we ebb and flow into the future, a looming crisis is clear in sight, and sustainability is not enough; the world calls for regeneration—a call that Milan Design Week 2023 is set to transcribe.

The 7th edition of the Isola Design Festival, formulated by the digital and physical design platform Isola, will invite visitors during Milan Design Week, from April 18 to 23, 2023. Multiple venues both in and around the Isola Design District are set to host more than 25 exhibitions and installations, interactive events, and a series of discourses, all with over 200 international designers, design studios and manufacturers. Ensuring a year of initiatives that mustered Isola’s design community in Milan, in Eindhoven during the Dutch Design Week, and at Dubai Design Week, the event will abide by the theme ‘Nothing Happens if Nothing Happens.’ Through extensive ideation and innovation, it delves into the concept of regeneration and makes it the focus of its forthcoming edition, during the design week in Italy. “This year we want to arouse creativity through the exhibitions we host and curate. Isola Design Festival will be the hub for new, collectable, circular, sustainable, and innovative design,” says Elif Resitoglu, co-founder of Isola. “Our effort is to rally all members of the design community, visitors and designers alike, to actually make something happen,” she adds.

The anticipated event will summon designers and studios to intensify the ripples of change—rethink, regenerate, remediate, and surpass the bounds of sustainable design towards an approach of reinvention. This thematic will percolate through the collective exhibitions, collaborations and events that will animate the district, alongside six shows curated by the Isola creative team and guest curators. “What can happen? We must shape new guidelines for the design industry by rethinking the processes and production systems, regenerating natural resources and waste, and remediating the harm we have done to our planet. The next step must be taken now because Nothing Happens if Nothing Happens,” reads the manifesto and call to action of the festival.

The biggest circular design exhibition ever seen at Milan Design Week will be unveiled at Regione Lombardia, with the layout designed by Amsterdam-based Studio MAST. Titled 'Circolare – The Circular Village,' the showcase will bring together materials and products employing natural resources or industrial waste, with minimal environmental impact with respect to production. 'Tools & Crafts,' at Fondazione Catella, will house emerging talent and a new generation of artisans who create contemporary design by harnessing traditional tools and techniques. Spotlighting holistic well-being, 'Take Care! Of your mind, body and environment'—sponsored by Monkey 47 at Stecca3—will be a portal to an engaging exhibit, curated by Tellurico with the scenography designed in partnership with Stephanie Blanchard (co-founder of IAMMI Studio).

Isola Design Gallery, at Pastrengo 14, will be a celebration of handmade and collectable pieces conceived by independent designers and studios, including The Dutch Corner curated by Wisse Trooster. Ghassan Salameh co-curates Under Design Lebanon with 'BitsToAtoms,' a show that will be hosted by the association VIAFARINI at via Farini 35, underlining the significance of small-scale design and craft in the micro-economy of a country. For the final presentation, Isola will expand its borders to conquer a new area of Milan, the Certosa District. In collaboration with DesignTech and DesignWanted, it will curate 'Innovation for Living,' an exhibition staged in a 3000 sqm industrial space, addressing industrial design and technology, with a layout designed by Pininfarina Architecture.

A myriad of design interventions and collaborations will be interspersed around the Isola Design District, such as the Belgian pavilion by designers Joris Verstrepen and Timon Mattelaer at Via Cola Montano 13; 'Belonging: A Modern Fairytale' by Social Label and the Japanese collective New Normal, New Standard, at via Pastrengo; 'Bestiario' by KeepLife and 'The Art of Possibility' by Portugal Ceramics at ZonaK; 'Freed Curators Club' by Lyla Design and 3D printer manufacturer Ginger Additive at via Confalonieri 11; 'Sottocassa' by Paolo Marasi at Spaces; and 'VARIETÀ!' by Quasar Institute for Advanced Design Roma at Zetalab. In the neighbourhood teeming with studios and galleries, visitors will have the opportunity to visit Bota Fogo Ceramica with Águas de março and IsolaDesignStudio with The Botanical Loft, at via Farini; Green Island at Stazione Garibaldi with an immersive installation by Antonio Scarponi; Fonderia Napoleonica Eugenia, with a project by BUROMILAN; and Galleria Angelo della Pergola 1.

Our planet is deteriorating with each passing day and the wanton consumption of its natural resources leaves behind a colossal footprint. “Countless solutions have been proposed. Within the design community, the focus has shifted towards sustainable and circular design, to reinventing outdated processes. But designing sustainably means actions, not just words, restoring hope for new generations,” reads the event’s manifesto. Isola Design Week 2023 is set to be the torchbearer of this crusade, passing on the baton to designers and audiences from across the world through a six-day event. For the design of public spaces, the district joins forces with gin brand Monkey 47, the main sponsor of the event. A collaboration with BRITA will culminate in 'Reimagine your future!' an immersive experience about water and taste hosted at Fondazione Catella; and with Campari Soda for a massive bar installation at Stecca3—a hub for midnight talks, concerts, and DJ sets. As the days lead up to Milan Design Week, Isola will gradually unveil its stellar lineup to the public—giving the creative and curious crowd all the more reasons to look forward to the annual celebration.

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