aires mateus brings the beach to a baroque palazzo during design variations 2021

aires mateus brings the beach to a baroque palazzo during design variations 2021

a place of joy and reunion during milan design week

 

during this year’s milan design week, the main courtyard of palazzo litta hosts ‘a beach in the baroque’, an installation designed by portuguese studio aires mateus as a place of encounter, joy and reunion. part of the design variations 2021 event, curated by moscapartners, the temporary, site-specific work contrasts with the permanence of the cortile d’onore and the palazzo, while its bright colours clash with the sobriety of the architectural materials. the central element of the installation is a red and white striped beach cabin, accompanied by a fully functioning cart that serves ice cream to visitors passing by. 

 

‘to explain this exhibition, I have to start with a proposition that we made in 2019 for the 2020 event that didn’t happen,’ manuel aires mateus tells designboom. ‘our installation for 2020 was just to fill the courtyard with water and transform it into a mirror. our idea was to call it ‘silence’, because it was about this necessity that we had at the moment about having a certain kind of silence. too many influences, too many things going on, too many images, too much noise… it was about explaining this idea that we already have a lot of things. so there was this idea of silence in 2020, and then, of course, after two years of silence with COVID, we thought that it was not fair to imagine something about silence. and we thought, let’s talk about being together, about a sense of party, a sense of freedom, lightness, things that we need at the moment, and things they needed a lot here, in milan. so we decided to propose something that was a common base for everyone, this image of the ice cream cart, or the small cabin that everyone knows from all the beaches that we’ve been to since ever. it was this idea of common sense for everyone, of common ground, of common place to join the people around this cloister here at palazzo litta.’

aires mateus brings the beach to a baroque palazzo during design variations 2021image by sistemamanifesto

 

 

PLAYFUL BEACH CABIN AGAINST THE BAROQUE IMAGE OF THE PALACE

 

 

on view from september 4 – 10, 2021, ‘a beach in the baroque (una spiaggia nel barocco)’ celebrates the reunification of people after the isolation of the pandemic. while discussing the ideas and references behind the project, manuel aires mateus notes, ‘there’s also a layer in the references of the form, the references of the work of aldo rossi, and at the same time, a personal layer. 40 years ago, when I was 18, I made a trip to paris and found a disco that was called ‘les bains douches’, a very famous disco in paris, and they had transformed the space into a beach with these ice cream carts and a swimming pool. for me, it had been my dream of freedom and party, so when we had this idea to do something that we can all be together, I thought about making this installation here on the palace. also, there’s the name, “a beach on the baroque”, because we are making this as an archetype of an installation against this baroque palace. so it’s this “fight” of structures between the baroque and this formal image of the space against the lightness and freedom of the installation. another layer is that of doing simple things, or say that we cannot push too much, or do too much – you just make a ground, you make a sign, and you can have a party.’aires mateus brings the beach to a baroque palazzo during design variations 2021image © designboom

 

 

the temporary installation appears to ‘float’ on the palazzo’s central courtyard, representing the feeling of lightness most of us have encountered when going to the beach. ‘we’re not very used to bright colors or these pop ideas, so we thought about doing something that was a provocation even for us,’ explains the portuguese architect. ‘I take these installations as a kind of provocation, to provoke myself. this year we have an installation at the venice biennale and we have one that is going to open at the biennale in seoul. for us, these ephemeral things are important to produce quick experiences. in architecture, when you do something, you see the results in a couple of years. with these things, you design it and have the return very, very quickly, and because it’s not permanent, there’s another degree of freedom.’

aires mateus brings the beach to a baroque palazzo during design variations 2021
the installation is set in the middle of palazzo litta’s cortile d’onore | image © designboom

 

 

‘it’s an installation that responds to this particular moment’

 

 

‘one of the things that I asked was that the ice cream cart really had ice cream,’ says manuel aires mateus when asked about how he expects people to interact with it. ‘for me, it is important that this party is based on this idea that everyone comes here and has ice creams. and there are a couple of people taking photos in the cabin, so they use it like an iconic element, and I want this to be an iconic image that you can transport, because it’s an image that doesn’t belong to this installation, it’s an image that belongs to anywhere. and it’s the same for everyone, the sign is exactly the same for everyone. I see that for people it’s very easy to sense a relation, and then they have real ice cream, so they understand that this is real, and it could generate this idea of passing by, and making this a space of being together. it’s really what you can expect for a party, you pass by, you have an ice cream, you meet some friends… even me, I’m using this to meet my friends. I’m staying in milan only for one day so I said to all my friends, let’s meet there, have an ice cream, a coffee and just talk.’

 

‘what’s important is that it’s an extension of reality. all of us have been at the beach, all of us have been able to experience this freedom and these kind of moments in life where we feel completely light. it’s an installation that responds to this particular moment in milan. but, of course, it’s not something that we imagined, or that we designed this. we imagined that everyone designed their own cabin, their own memory. for me, it’s the bains douches, but probably for most people it’s a real beach, not a disco in paris, so this difference makes it interesting.’

 

aires mateus brings the beach to a baroque palazzo during design variations 2021
the red and white striped beach cabin, accompanied by the ice cream cart | image by sistemamanifesto

aires mateus brings the beach to a baroque palazzo during design variations 2021
its bright colors and pop-like appearance contrast the formal architecture around it | image © designboom

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image © designboom

aires mateus brings the beach to a baroque palazzo during design variations 2021
‘a beach in the baroque’ greets visitors as they enter the palazzo

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image © designboom

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image © designboom
image © designboom
visitors can enter the cabin | image © designboom
visitors can enter the cabin | image © designboom
the ice cream cart | image by sistemamanifesto
the ice cream cart | image by sistemamanifesto

project info:

 

name: a beach in the baroque

designer: aires mateus

event: design variations 2021, curated by moscapartners

duration: 4 –10 september 2021

location: palazzo litta, corso magenta 24, milan, italy

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