During the Milano Design Week, from 4th to 9th April 2017, the Triennale di Milano will host Una Città Immaginaria (An Imaginary City), an exhibition by Paola Navone, which narrates the materials created by Abet Laminati through technological research and dialogue with the world of design.
The installation retraces 60 years of the company by showing the large wealth of laminates that have defined the history of Italian design. The exhibit includes both emblematic pieces of furniture, like the Carlton bookcase by Ettore Sottsass, and creations made specifically for the exhibit that raise the profile of a continuously evolving collection. An Imaginary City has been realized also thanks to the craftsmanship and skills of De Rosso, the company Abet Laminati has been collaborating with for over 20 years.
The exhibition space is designed as a town square surrounded by a series of buildings, each with its own precise identity that represents a decade of the Company’s history. The flooring is made of decorative laminate pertaining to the Rocks collection and the ceiling is illuminated with boxes in Diafos translucent laminate, which led the Company to win its first Compasso d’Oro award in 1987.
A series of colourful containers sits centre stage recounting the 1950s characterised by the first studies into colour and the evolution of decorations on laminates.
The 1960s are defined by silk-screen printing, a process that enabled many designers to customise laminate with their own images and graphic patterns, particularly thanks to the laboratory that Abet Laminati inaugurated in 1967. A large monument made out of the Quaderna decoration by Superstudio dominates the town square of the Imaginary City. Inside of it many laminates with other decorations of the same period are hanging on chains.
Another notable collaboration that marked the history of the Company was with Alessandro Mendini, who used Abet laminates for both small and large sculptures as well as in his architectural projects such as the Groninger Museum in The Netherlands. To Mendini is dedicated a work of art representing the 1970s, the radical design movement known as Alchymia which Abet Laminati courageously supported. Two Proust armchairs are framed in by laminate partitions that feature the same decorations as the armchairs with their sizes inverted.
The 1980s are represented by the Carlton bookcase by Ettore Sottsass, whom the Company collaborated with for over 40 years, an iconic design and a symbol of the avant-garde movement: Memphis.
This journey through time and over the history of Abet Laminati continues with an array of photographs reproduced on laminate that tell the story of the revolution of the 1990s: the introduction of digital printing. The important insight makes it possible to transfer an image or decoration onto a surface without placing any limits on one’s imagination.
Projects in recent years have seen the Company increasingly committed to research. An example of this is Polaris, a surface that is scratch and heat resistant, as well as anti-fingerprint and antibacterial, while boasting a warm, velvety texture. One of the tables that starred in the Dinner on Stage event, conceived by Paola Navone for the 2016 Fuorisalone and held at the Art Theatre of the Triennale in Milan, will be on display inside the exhibit. A large screen positioned behind the table will illustrate the key moments of that special event.
Before leaving the Imaginary City, visitors will explore the space dedicated to the new project curated by Terzano+Arcidiacono Studio: Digital Layers. This innovative concept aims to bring the audience closer to digital printing and the world of Abet Laminati, while at the same time marking another chapter in the history of this Italian Company that began 60 years ago.
Una Città Immaginaria (An Imaginary City) – curated by Paola Navone
La Triennale di Milano – Viale Alemagna, 6 (Milan)
4th April (10.30 am – 00.00 am), from 5th to 9th April (10.30 am – 10.00 pm) 2017
Photo Credit: Alessandro Arcidiacono