13 February 2017 - Milan


An exhibition at the 121+ bookstore in Milan focuses on everyday objects. Now that might not sound like a terrifically exciting basis for a show, until you discover that the exhibits are so everyday that we hardly notice how appealing they are, how cleverly designed and/or well made.

And that’s the name of the exhibition, of the collection and of the whole project: Fattobene.

Behind it are Anna Lagorio, a journalist who specialises in matters of design, and photographer Alex Carnevali. They made up their minds, sometime in 2015, to create an archive of vintage workaday items of particular interest.  Some are still found only in certain parts of the country, so the ongoing collection forms an atlas of material culture in the Boot.

There’s (spoiler alert here) the Marvis toothpaste tube and the lovely blue-on-white pot in which Fabbri puts its amarena cherries – both now of international renown. But then there’s everything from a blanket still made by a lone-surviving family mill in Calabria and almond-scented glue made in Pavia since 1927, to the Zenith 548 stapler (still guaranteed for life) and the award-winning Cifra clock (since 1966).

All little icons of lowly design, each with its own tale of a brilliant intuition, industrial excellence or maybe just serendipity.

You can read their stories and even buy them online, but to see the whole collection for real call in at 121+ in Via Savona, until February 21.