Bodies in Space

Nike Fuori Salone 2011

Bodies in Space

With this sub-title, ‘Bodies in Space’, one may indeed expect the lead in picture to segue into a dissertation on ‘New Situationalism’, of a renewed interest in Body Art and Happenings, of Flash Mobs, or of any number of other contemporary movements aiming at ‘Taking Back the Streets’, with or without an evident or planned political agenda.

Surely, with a knowingly wink at the relationships to these and other important cultural movements and events of the past century, we comment of the event staged by Nike and Interni during this years Salone di Mobili  in the streets of Milan.

Milano Design Run 2011

For well over a decade, Interni Magazine has been instrumental in creating events outside of the official fair grounds of Milans Salone di Mobile. These events range from experimental or limited run furniture / lighting pieces and collections, to ambient oriented installations for entities at various scales,  from public utilities, to automobile manufacturing  groups to technological and communications companies. Parallel to these ‘cultural’ events, which have traditionally been located in Milans’ art galleries, abandoned industial areas, fashion boutiques and production studios, Interni Magazine itself has contemporarily occupied the streets of the city of Milan by co-sponsorng collateral ‘Public Events’, strategically placed within Milan’s Public squares, Monuments and Institutions.

‘Soft Situationalism’

Without compromising either the strength, conviction and historic importance of the Situationalist International movement and its political and social aim, OR of the Events hosted by Interni over this decade, we offer up these events under the title of  ‘Soft Situationist’, which, perhaps under a different set of codes and primary intentions can also be read as a reoccurring theme of many Flash Mob events.

In 2001, the ‘Soft Situationalist’ installation by Tim Power Architects for ‘Sputnik_Ideè’ was perhaps the first event staged during the Salone di Mobile by a unaffiliated private entity occupying public space.  Visitors stumbled upon the unexpected public presence of an inflatable micro-architecture which hosted objects by designers such as Michael Young, Marc Newson, Jerzsy Seymour, James Irvine, Emmanuel Babled, Tim Power and others. This event, centered by the ‘Sputnik Launch Pad’, popped up (often unannounced) later in cities across the globe, in London, New York, Berlin, Tokyo etc.  At the time an oddity, this strategy of occupation of public space, no longer an anomaly, is now apodted by numerous private companies, institutions and individuals for the ever growing number of events ‘Fuori Salone’. Times change.


The Bodies in Space of the Milan Design Run 2011 proceeded on a path known to the participants, but not by the cities administration – the flow of designers and journalists (the runners), clad in the Red Runners kit of Nike Stadium Milan, initiated in the Brera district of Milan and proceeded southwest, proceeded through the citys’ fashion Quadrilaterale, to San Babila, avoiding Piazza Duomo where a ‘political’ public event was taking place,  then proceeded to Via Durini, cumulating in the main courtyard of the Università Statale di Milano.

This event, although obviously and undeniably staged with commercial intent, did not have an object or objects displayed or for sale, it was not an installation, nor was it a cultural manifestation. It was not Body Art per se … was it perhaps more of a Happening?  More than anything else, it was action … Action.  My participation was not vital to the success of the event, no more than any others individuals participation was. Indeed, like all large urban or social projects, it was not the work of an individual, of a ‘name’, it was the ‘work’ of team, and team action is surely a trend found in the best current work at a large scale.

The End of Design?

Is this the oft proclaimed ‘End of Design’?

Surely not, and far from it, yet a trend of ‘Action over Object’ my indeed have been un-officially launched last week by Nike + Interni … far from proclaiming Designs death, it may be fuel necessary to increasingly enlarge Designs’ on-going research of the revitalization of the Land-City Scape.

Social Movements and Public Space … Well Being?

Perhaps Guy Debord would not have been pleased to imagine a healthy future as part of his early experiments in dètournement and dèrive, but Guy, history marches on.  The older generation, every older generation, should take note.

Extremely desperate urban conditions and environmental downturn have necessitated an interest in searching for positive long-term solutions which can also include ephemeral social events and movement in public space.

By the Way

Oh, and by the way, the Design Run was a load of fun and … dare we say, healthy.