Brera Design District Brera Design District is a project by Studiolabo
Con il patrocinio del Comune di Milano

Brera Design District was created with the purpose of creating an organized network of the activities in this zone in order to promote commercial and cultural activities and to implement a model of a cutting edge development.

Year after year Brera Design District improves the huge potentials this district has. With its events, it highlights the strengths of the cultural, economic and social wide heritage that characterize the district. Studiolabo have in its DNA the attitude to create and develop networks between professionals for sharing Skills and Resources, the Brera Design District project proposes to spread and promote the culture of the furniture design and art by creating connections between the activities in the district.

2019 Edition

During Brera Design Days, produced by Studiolabo in October 2018, there was much talk about sustainability and a green and choice-conscious design. Hence the inspiration that led us to choose the theme: “Design Your Life”, that draws inspiration from Bill Burnett and Dave Evans’ book (Designing Your Life: How to Build a Well-Lived, Joyful Life, Alfred a Knopf Inc, September 2016).

If we were to adopt a design approach in our day-to-day choices, in our everyday life, we would probably be happier and less stressed. Suffice it to consider an error contained in a project, as an element recognized as fundamental in the research process that helps bring to perfection. On the contrary, an error in everyday life is seen as a catastrophe, not an element to learn from, but an obstacle, an episode to be erased.
Perhaps the lives of all the inhabitants of the planet are connected to each other by their mistakes. Just think of what we have (or have not) done for environmental sustainability. Today we pay the consequences of mistakes made in the past, which are still repeated nowadays.

“Design your life” is a call to design our own life. We ask designers to be more committed to the sustainable impact of their work. We ask everyone to behave as daring designers, because everyone’s thoughts and contributions are now essential.

2018 Edition

Knowing the users deeply is always the starting point when designing a product. Empathy, is the ability to put oneself in someone else’s shoes and understand his/her needs before creating solutions, is key for the work of a designer. In a more and more digitalised present and in a future dominated by artificial intelligence, empathy will be a scarce resource representing a factor of success for products and services: no robots will ever be able to replace it.

With the aim of reflecting on the issue in a broader sense we asked Fondazione Empatia Milano to give us a feedback on it: «Empathy, meant as ability to take the perspective of the other, involves several fields of our society, including design, whose mission is to combine usefulness and beauty», said Giannantonio Mezzetti, president of FEM. On the other hand Laura Boella, professor of Moral Philosophy at Università degli Studi di Milano and member of the ethics committee of Fem, added “Empathy connects design with life, what is beautiful and useful with human nature, being in tune also with its imperfection”.

2017 Edition

The theme of the 2017 edition of Brera Design District is Designing is a game, playing is a project.

We treasured the experience we had with Brera Design Days first edition. From October 1st to October 9th 2016 we reflected on and discussed about various topics, among which smart cities, graphics, hybridisation, interaction design and gamification. The success gained by this last topic was what really inspired the choice of the theme. A reflection on the practice of game as an opportunity to design, in particular on the importance that gamification may acquire in service design and in the interaction and communication between brand and customer.

The theme is a quote by Bruno Munari and strongly refers to his imaginary and design approach. Munari worked a lot on the concepts of game and toy. In Da cosa nasce cosa he wrote: “We should also create didactic toys for adults to remove prejudice and train the mind, to set hidden energies free».

2016 Edition

2016 theme “Designing is Listening” starts from the awareness that the rigour of music composition and that of design thinking are particularly close to each other. Like music, design starts from listening: listening to functions, materials, objects and spaces. Active listening means interpretation of the world and not merely data collection. Listening to things does not only lead to learning, but also to transformation and then to a natural evolution that guides us towards innovation.
“Designing is Listening” also highlights the didactic and educational power of good design. While it is true that a good teacher is someone able to imagine what a person could become even before it happens, a good designer (of any field) can see how the world will be through his work. Thanks to that, research and listening are deeply interconnected.

2015 Edition

The 2015 topic is based on the concept of identity. In order to create an identity, you must invest in formation, it is the only way to develop planning ability. There can't be identity without a project; formation, learning and knowledge are the elements that put together the two expressions of this formula. We have chosen this topic for we wanted to question today's meaning of identity, whose concept has lost strength in reason of an overload of images at the expense of a project-based culture. In design, thinking over this assumption means digging at the roots of an invention in order to study from close range the processes leading to a development of creative uniqueness.

2014 Edition

“Be District: creare connessioni, comunicare innovazione”: being a district means, first of all, creating connections. The time interval between the creation of new products, the addition of value to already existing ones and their launching on the market is becoming shorter the world over. And this process is faster where there is a high technological quotient.
Trademark and product are no longer sufficient; web reputation and communication develop according to various principles and the new markets require different, innovative models of development.
We need to aspire to the creation of generative systems because these have an unlimited capacity for connecting users, enabling them to create new values and new products.

2013 Edition

Conversation between Gillo Dorfles and Aldo Colonetti

Aldo Colonetti: research, new technologies and new materials continue to advance, but more and more frequently we question the relationship between design and craft, between the “handmade” and the industrial process. What are your thoughts on this today?

Gillo Dorfles: the reflection regards a fundamental theme of design, not just the role of craftsmanship. Man has an ever increasing need to create objects that have a strong symbolic potential, so that they can emerge from the ocean of other limitlessly expendable objects. In short, we are prey to a daily fetish that we must deal with; this explains our incessant search for “exceptional” products which stand out from a generalised standardisation and conformism. From this point of view, the concept of “handmade”, which is central to the artisan culture, is fundamental.

A.C. Gillo, couldn’t a bit of artisan culture be useful regarding the grand theme of consumption, a subject you dealt with in your famous essay, “Simbolo Comunicazione Consumo" (Symbol, Communication, Consumption), in 1962? At the time you already said in regards to this problem that “in artisan products, even those that are made partially by a machine, there is always a margin of risk”. This margin today might represent a kind of resistance to the immediate consumption of any product.

G.D. Certainly, the acceleration of time, the faster pace of everyday life can be traced back to that principle of the “loss of the break” which I wrote about in “Intervallo perduto” in1980. This does not mean refusing certain positive elements that have come about because of speed – you only have to think of all the advantages we have gained from man’s rapid movements, both of the body and the mind. Perhaps a measured and balanced presence of the “handmade” concept could represent an attitude (one that is already present in the philosophy of artisan culture), capable on the one hand of humanising products and on the other of contributing to having a responsible relationship towards all those daily objects that surround us, without transforming them into “something else”.

A.C. Gillo, what does “something else” mean, with regards to the role of the “handmade” and its relation with industrial manufacturing? We have all learnt from you that there is no difference between industrial series and a unique piece, because the aesthetic dimension is to be found everywhere in everyday life and, obviously, in places where art is produced and exhibited. You have to know how to recognise it, in design, in architecture, in fashion and in graphics, but obviously also in craftsmanship. Consider for example some of the exhibitions that took place during the Triennale, from the one you curated dedicated to Kitsch, to the exhibition of the works of a great artisan like Pier Luigi Ghianda.

G.D. With his hands and the tools available to him, man evidently creates likenesses, fetishes of himself, of his “divinities”, of his ghosts. These objects, these “fetishes”, will finish supporting the presence of a Urform, in the Goethean sense of original matrix, which will justify the simultaneous presence of a utilitarian and functional data on the one hand, and on the other of an artistic, magic, mythical value, in every product. Let us never forget that no project, even the most advanced on an industrial scale, can do without the “handmade”, or rather, that symbolic and narrative element that escapes any particular denomination or utilisation.

Read all the interviews