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Leading design authority, Design Anthology, invited NHO Founder & Director, Neil Hugh Kenna, to file a dispatch from Milan Design Week. Here are his thoughts:
The clock is inching towards 12 on a balmy night and Bar Basso is thick with design. It’s not April though. Nor is it September as was the case last year. It’s June, and the heady onset of summer heralds Salone’s current place in the calendar and a thirst for connection that cannot be quenched by sbagliato alone.
If you’re following along at home through the long lens of Instagram, you’d be forgiven for thinking Milan Design Week is, simply put, a platform for design. But what if I told you its purpose is even simpler: that it’s actually a platform for connection.
Like all sectors, the global design community has struggled to come together in recent years for obvious reasons. And while virtual events and social media were a temporary solution (that we were grateful for), the hum of conversation at Bar Basso signals a fervour that will no longer lay dormant.
It’s easy to dismiss ‘Basso’ as a folly — a booze-soaked saloon of late-night revelry. And in many ways, that’s exactly what it is. However, amid a week of velvet ropes and increasing corporatisation, Basso is also the great equaliser. Whether you’re a student visiting from Paris, the head of an Italian furniture house, or this correspondent just landed from Melbourne, we’re all drinking our negronis from plastic cups, jostling for space on the overcrowded pavement.
As the drinks flow, conversations are had, ideas are shared and new connections are made, each representing a seed of possibility and the potential for what’s to come. Less about handing out business cards and more about connecting over shared values, it’s from these conversations that ideas are born, challenged and debated. If design is about problem solving, then this crowd is up to the task.
So, after a week of connection and conversation, and as we return to our respective corners of the globe, I have great optimism for the future of design and our industry as a whole. But for now, it’s back to the bar.
This article was originally published in ‘Design Anthology – The Dispatch Nº97, Milan Design Week Special’ on Friday 10 June 2022.