Paolo Brambilla talks about designing intrigue for MADE Expo 2019

Milan – For Milan's MADE Expo 2019 architecture and construction trade fair taking place from 13-16 March, architecture office Calvi Brambilla was tasked with designing a showcase for the best of Made in Italy architecture and interior design products.

Frame spoke with architect and Frame Awards jury member Paolo Brambilla about the office's design of the Elle Décor Design Box, two facing spaces that will allow visitors to interact with, and be inspired by, some of the finest materials in the industry.

Calvi Brambilla has collaborated with the biggest names in Italian design to create exhibitions. What makes designing for MADE Expo interesting?
PAOLO BRAMBILLA: This time we have not been called to work with a specific brand, but to design an exhibition of the best products in the finishes and building components industry. It’s a radical change from our point of view as exhibition designers. It’s a particularly tempting challenge because it’s not possible to rely on a steady company image. It’s not about a brand; it's about best expressing the materials, themselves.

This year, you are one of the Frame Awards jury members in the Show category. What do you believe is most important in order to create the strongest exhibition design?
I think that in a show setting, it is important to catch the attention of the audience without creating something so strong as to overshadow the displayed products. The sets that really stand out are those that not only intrigue us, but that even move us with a touch of magic or poetry.

There is a contradiction between the demand to stage something that is Insta-friendly and something that is impossible to catch in its fullness with a mobile phone 

How did you try to make that magic in the MADE Expo installation?
We focused on some fundamentals of architecture, very simple actions like entering, climbing, opening, closing, and so on. They are elementary acts, basic gestures, but they have great significance, because they are the very basis of each project.

What do you think about two industry trends around our ever-evolving needs for exhibition design: creating experience as much as spectacle and making an social media-friendly space?
There is a contradiction between the demand to stage something that is Insta-friendly, on the one hand, and something that is impossible to catch in its fullness with a mobile phone, on the other. To stand inside a room is not like seeing a picture of it, and for this we are working more and more on the architecture of the spaces. Entering a dark corridor, passing through a small door and then finding yourself in a huge room full of light, for example, is something that must be experienced and that is not easy to communicate even with a video.

Which aspect of the MADE Expo exhibition design did you find most interesting?
MADE is an event that talks especially to professionals such as architects, interior designers, specifiers, project managers, and so on: We hope to establish a common language with all these experts, who in a sense are our colleagues, and to help them to find new solutions for their future projects.

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