27/05/2024 | MILANDESIGNWEEK2024


Posted by: Mrinmayee Bhoot

In the world of design, today's challenges require a proactive vision to shape a future characterized by innovation, sustainability, and inclusivity. This is the core of the interview conducted by Mrinmayee Bhoot for STIRworld magazine with Gisella Borioli, CEO of Superstudio Group and curator of the Superdesign Show. With a professional background that includes experience as a director of major fashion magazines, art director for design events, and an observer of changes in the image society, Borioli provides a unique perspective on the 2024 edition of the Superdesign Show.

- The theme of this edition of the Superdesign Show was "Thinking Different!". Can you guide us through the conceptualization and curatorial process of the exhibition based on this theme? 
   Each year, I ask myself what could be the strong, current, incisive theme that is broad enough to engage potential exhibitors on a shared thread for a coherent and stimulating event despite the diverse products and projects. I identified the theme "Thinking Different!" as an invitation to step out of comfort zones, normality, and habits in products and installations and to experiment with new virtual technologies to better communicate. We asked ourselves to think differently. This resulted in the new exhibition layout with a long immersive, green labyrinth, with key words inviting reflection on the future. We also enhanced our internal digital area and presented a hologram that brings art to life, an interactive avatar that responds "humanly" to every question, the exploration of the metaverse with the help of a touch screen, and a virtual reality experience that changes the appearance of furnishings. All this to bring visitors closer to simplified use of new technologies and to explore the potential of A.I. Each potential exhibitor was invited to present a project before their participation was accepted. All projects were reviewed by the artistic board, suggestions for modifications and settings that would enhance their message were made, and placement was determined for overall harmony. Only at the end of this long and not always easy process, agreed upon in all its parts, was the exhibitor's participation confirmed. With some exclusions.

- As mentioned in the press release, the presence of Asian countries constitutes "a strong and stimulating core" for the Superdesign Show, each affirming its cultural identity. How do you think traditional practices and cultural elements will play a role in the future of design? 
   The awareness of the Orientals of their past, respect for nature, the refinement of simplicity, a certain romanticism, in which now elements of Western taste are grafted and the ability to use and develop the most advanced technologies, in my opinion, compose a very interesting and ultimately winning cultural mix for the international market as well. From Japan to Vietnam, the scenario is very wide, but contemporary identity design is an opportunity for everyone.

- The installation by The Good Plastic Company strongly highlights how current design practices are challenging the conventional perception of material use and environmental awareness. Besides conscious material use, in what other ways do you believe we can work towards more ecological and environmentally friendly practices? 
   I won't give you a technical answer, others can do that better than me, but as a "citizen." We are doing a lot, although not enough, with communication, with events like our Superdesign Show and others during Design Week where the message of sustainability, energy and resource saving, reuse and recycling, material regeneration and metamorphosis, respect for nature, and ecological culture are at the forefront. We must continue to push environmental and scientific research, influence large companies in this direction (from fuel to fashion), but also insist much more at all levels starting from kindergarten as they do in Japan - to instill in individuals the awareness of how important it is for everyone to contribute to stopping the ecological disaster before it's too late.

- Many presentations included in the show use technology as a bridge between reality and virtual worlds. To what extent do you think virtual reality and especially artificial intelligence will influence the design of the future? 
   I think artificial intelligence, in all its forms, will influence everything, far beyond design. It will change our way of thinking, informing ourselves, working, entertaining, spending leisure time, taking care of ourselves, traveling, studying, creating, perhaps even dreaming. It will help us, speed up processes, broaden horizons and possibilities. The important thing will be to always be able to dominate it without being overwhelmed.

- An interesting and crucial aspect was the inclusion of students' work and the dissemination of the discourse on how education will shape the future of design. What potential do you see in younger generations and how are they currently shaping design practices? 
   When I talk to students at the Polytechnic and these hybrid contemporary culture faculties, I understand that they are already inhabitants of another planet, accustomed to other technologies, consumers of other devices, friends of algorithms and chatbots, in an ever-deepening gap with adults from previous generations. I think the world that awaits them will be built by them, the "digitarians" coming out of universities. And we will watch.

- Another guiding thread you mentioned for this year's presentation was the question: Why Not? There is this idea of transgression highlighted by the works on display. What do you think are some themes that tie together the varied showcase? 
   "Thinking Different!" was my invitation, the result of precise reasoning. "Why Not?" was the answer that came casually from an artist, Daniele Cima, which I immediately adopted and turned into an impactful exhibition. His challenge joined mine, reinforced its meaning, accentuated the message of freedom, originality, courage, transgression, universality.

- This year's theme also brings to mind the idea of the power of individual creativity. How do you think we, as individuals, have the power to drive change, both through sustainable design and cultural practices? 
   I believe that culture, education, study, experimentation, and research are very important. Looking inside oneself by asking questions and looking far away, trying to find personal answers. Which will be increasingly less standardized and more individualistic. In short, less superficiality and more depth. Perhaps even less social media and more print, fewer influencers and more Masters. The problems that await us are immense, but so are the possibilities. We need curiosity, creativity, competence, knowledge. The human genius, even with the support of A.I., at the center of everything.

To read the article on STIRworld:

Gisella Borioli, CEO of Superstudio Group and curator of the Superdesign Show
ZED, the avatar of SuperDigital, created by Superstudio. Superdesign Show 2024
Like Trees in The Woods by Michele D'Agostino. Superdesign Show, 2024 edition
Peacock Chair by Cappellini, design by Dror