La Triennale di Milano

La Triennale is Milan’s premier design museum. Located within Parco Sempione (the city’s equivalent of Central Park), this museum features rotating exhibits focused on modern design rather than classical art (trust me, this country already has plenty of the latter).

One thing I particularly liked about this museum was its uniqueness. No two exhibits were alike; Many different artistic mediums were used, from textiles to iPads. This museum also had its own quirkiness (see the photo below).

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view from museum café

I will shamelessly admit that I am an avid admirer of Chiara Ferragni and that the basic bitch inside me thoroughly enjoys stalking her Instagram account. Through doing just that I discovered that her blog, The Blonde Salad, was teaming up with the Italian fashion and lifestyle magazine Grazia for an exhibition at La Triennale. And best of all, it was free! Naturally, I had to go.

You: The Digital Fashion Revolution

The exhibit had positive and negative aspects to it. One thing that stood out to me was the use of digital mediums (hence the name). Upon entering, one saw a screen flashing with different words and images relating to the fashion and the digital world. I especially liked the fashion week street style pictures that was shown here.

As one moved throughout the exhibit, you could see various clips, magazine covers, and books that demonstrated how the age of the internet has impacted fashion. TV series/movies such as Sex and the City and The Diary of Bridget Jones were used to represent the focus on fashion in modern film. Bios and quotes from major fashion bloggers were showcased in a mirrored hallway. There was a tribute to “father of street style photography”, Bill Cunningham. Factoids about social media and other technological advances (i.e. founding of Google, first release of iPhone, etc.) were printed on the walls.

Something that made this exhibit memorable was how interactive it was. For example, on one wall there was a mirror with different colored panels that you could slide in front of it to see how you look with a “real-life filter.” Accompanying the section about fashion bloggers were iPads that one could scroll through to view the bloggers’ Instagram feeds. A looped video of Chiara Ferragni talking about her life as a blogger was also playing. There was an “experiential room” of mirrors that one (0r many) could enter and hang out in for a little. What you do in the room would in turn be played on the entrance screen.

While the interactive nature of the exhibit was fun and one-of-a-kind, I found the actual content to be a bit “fluffy”; there wasn’t any real substance to it. I walked away from the exhibit feeling a little disheartened that The Diary of Bridget Jones and an Instagram feeds were being showcased in a museum. “Has art and design really been dumbed down this much?“, I thought to myself. Obviously these types of things have cultural significance, but it seemed phony to try and present them as something bigger than they are. And this is coming from someone who really, really, really likes them.

W. Women in Italian Design

Conveniently located next to the first exhibit was a second that intrigued me. I was also able to view it for free, although I’m not sure if that was allowed. This exhibit highlighted the influence of Italian women in the world of design beginning in the 20th century, and explored how that influence morphed throughout the 21st century. Italy (and Europe in general) has always been a bit behind in recognizing women as equals the way we do in the U.S. That being said, an exhibit like this in a museum as prominent as La Triennale is a BFD.

The exhibit was separated into three parts. The first was a dark room that exclusively displayed artistic works done in the medium of weaving. I can’t even begin to explain the intricacy of these works. One was even made out of human hair! This room was simply incredible.

The section section was the “meat and potatoes” of the exhibit. It was a hodgepodge of 3D works by Italian female artists, thoughtfully placed in chronological order by their creation date. The placement of the designs in a long winding hall was representative of a river that runs the entire length of the 20th century.

Finally, before exiting, one sat in a dark room with videos that played in a constant loop. The videos provided information about how the male and female brains operate differently and about how we should approach gender in general in the 21st century differently than we did in the past.

As a whole, both exhibits were wonderful and La Triennale itself a great institution. I’d be happy to go back for another exhibition (and perhaps pay for it this time).

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