Archive for the ‘4. Public Design Festival’ Category


Interview to Esterni

May 28, 2010

As I mentioned in the previous posts, the Public Design Festival was organized by the group Esterni. Esterni is a cultural association which promotes outdoor events in order to encourage people to live their city in a different way. This morning I had the chance to talk with Anna Spreafico, coordinator of public-space project for Esterni from 2004.

Which is the main idea, the values of Esterni? Why do you choose public spaces and how do you interpret them?

Our mission is to increase the value of public spaces and to promote a cultural growth. To achieve this, we create temporary events that go from cinema to music to design. In fact we believe that people need to enjoy public spaces as places to meet, to socialize and to rest: that’s the reason why we choose public spaces, a choice that, by the way, is well expressed by the name of the association.

How is the internal organization of the group?

We have 22 employees who work in the head office in via Lambruschini 36, Milan. Their activities go from coordinating and organizing projects to fund raising, graphics and communication. Furthermore, we have some external co-workers whom we assign some part of the projects (for istance the graphics for the Milano Film Festival) and students from academies who collaborate with us.

You have just mentioned fund raising activities. So Esterni is a no-profit association, isn’t it?

Yes, Esterni is a no-profit association with cultural purposes. Nonetheless, we are organized as an enterprise: any employee has his own competence and we draw up a business plan at the beginning of every year with the projects, costs and contracts scheduled. So we work hard to promote cultural values but we try to be a “sane” association too.

How was the Public Design Festival 2010 organized?

We worked hard for six months to set it: some of us projected the contents, others dealed with the fund raising, others worked to promote the event (communication, website, community,…). During the event we had to welcome the guests and we also set up some info-points for the visitors. Luckily we were supported by some volunteers.

Where did you find the money for that project? Did the City of Milan finance it?

No, the City of Milan didn’t give us money but it patronized the exhibition. Normally we ask private and public enterprises for contributes, then we cover the remaining costs with direct takings such as selling tickets, merchandising, etc. The Public Design Festival was financed by private enterprises and direct takings.

How do you choose a new project? And how do you select the artists then?

We always try to do something new and inedited, so we are costantly looking for new ideas for our projects. Then, when the idea comes to our minds, we search for young and unknown talents. For the Public Design Festival we organized a competition opened to every country of the world. Looking through websites, blogs, e-mails and encouraging students from academies to partecipate, we eventually had 700 proposals from 50 countries. Afterwards, a team composed by some of us selected the best projects.

Do you realize your projects also in other cities in Italy? And in other countries?

In other italian cities yes, for example we are organizing an event called “allariscossa”, in collaboration with FAI, in Milan, Perugia and Palermo. It will consist of a treasure hunt and some road tests to involve people to rediscover public spaces and artistic locations. Up to now he have done just a few projects in other countries but we wish to do it more in the future.

For further information, visit the website


Public Design Festival: a spotlight on three projects

May 13, 2010

Here I present three projects from the nine winners of the “duepercinque” competition.


Title: Run for Rest

Artists: Maria Joao Fonseca, Joana Pestana Lages (Portugal)

These human-sized hamster wheels, based on the combination “work/rest”, want to give an ironic reflection on modern life: if a person runs inside the bigger wheel, generates a movement that rocks another person lying in a hammock within the other wheel.. the work seem to say: “People work so hard just to gain some rest!”


Title: O2 Park

Artists: C_Uno group (Italy)

This transparent and soft structure, animal-like shaped, has got ionizers inside which enable people to breathe some fresh air.. a corner where to breathe deeply just in the heart of one of the many polluted cities of modern world! This project makes the viewers interact and gives them food for thoughts about nowadays environment situation.


Title: Megaphone

Artist: Cristiano Cremaschini (Italy)

This big megaphone represents the chance to “make people hear you”: you can say something, shout, express your thoughts. It is emblematic in a city like Milan, where nobody stops for a second to hear its neighbour. The megaphone is something creative and innovative, but, at the same time, it allows you to listen to people and (what a strange thing!) to be listened.




We love public space. Do you?

May 12, 2010

Have you ever walked on a grass carpet just outside your subway station, or shouted inside a gig-sized megaphone in the middle of a chaotic street of your city? That’s what I did, together with thousands of inhabitants and visitors, workers and passers-by, during the Public Design Festival, which took place last month in Milano, along via Vigevano and all around Porta Genova Square. The event was organized by the group Esterni, whose aim was to investigate about how the common perception that people have of public spaces could change, if they turned some streets into places where to rest, where to meet people, where to think, just by putting some installations. Public Space, they say, is a personal affair: it belongs to everybody, but only a few people, in everyday life, gives the attention required to live it as something more than streets where to walk to go somewhere…but, in the end, isn’t it true that trip itself is just as important as the destination?

Esterni asked itself a question: how can we build up a Festival to celebrate public spaces? They answered by choosing a non-casual week: in fact, the project took place from the 13th until the 18th of April, 2010, during the Salone del Mobile week: while everybody was busy designing and selling indoor objects, they tried to transform one of the main crossings in town into a beautiful and functional place by installing projects. The choice of the scenery was not casual, either: in fact, the railway station (Porta Genova Square) is by definition a meeting and exchange point in every city, while via Vigevano is taken as a paradigm of a normal street you can find everywhere in the world.

The nine projects installed are the winners of an international competition called “duepercinque”. The name refers to the space, in metres, traditionally dedicated to car parks, which were left free for the exhibition. The artists who partecipated come from Portugal, Netherlands, Slovakia, Argentina, Italy, Poland and South Korea. There is a open-air fountain where humans, pets and birds can drink together, a big bed made of flowers, a structure where to breath pure air, an igloo made of hay… all of them have their own meanings, and offer the viewers the chance to think about some of the main issues of our Age: safeguard of the environment and Earth pollution, but also chaos and stress accumulated in our lives. Moreover, the organizers brought to the event also some out-of-competition works developed for public spaces all over the world during the last year.