July 8, 2016

Who among us has not stopped, at least once, to observe the intertwinement of a wicker basket, stunned by its beauty and by a structure that perfectly expresses its functionality? Process and shape can be indissolubly bound and the “Sempering” exhibition gathers and orders numerous testimonies of many other curious things in a dense journey full of discoveries.

It’s likely that not many will have heard the word “sempering” pronounced. It is, in fact, a neologism that gives the rich exhibition curated by Cino Zucchi and Luisa Collina – architects and intellectuals of tireless curiosity – its name. A seed-word that encloses in itself a multitude of ideas and that has allowed the curators to take the complex 19th century tectonic theories of Gottfried Semper – in turn inspired by natural sciences – and apply them to contemporary architecture.

A concept which, at first glance, might not seem simple but that immediately unveils all of its straightforwardness when one crosses the threshold of the Mudec. Here, a series of processes that make up the history of the “homo faber” unroll in front of the spectators’ eyes, organized as if in an ideal archive. Modelling, carving, weaving, blowing; these are just some of the elements and actions that send us back to an ancestral past, back to the origins of making. Eight categories, eight practices that connect all human beings, that reside in our DNA of constructors and civilizers and ideally bind the relationship between architecture and craft.

Starting from this common substrate it’s interesting to discover how the design and architecture of the past decade have restarted to reflect on the basic concepts of working and transforming materials, rediscovering the value of ancient actions and illuminating the present. But if the roots of practices go deep into a remote past, the ability to plan and intervene on materials is completely innovative. The results are fascinating as they give spectators a view of a panorama of shapes that possess a quality of suspension in time: manufacts that unite antiquity and future, with modular ageless shapes, perfect geometries, lines and structures inspired directly by nature. The buildings graft themselves harmoniously on the landscape and the objects live their homes, not for mere accumulation but actively combining themselves with other materials and shapes.

The examples gathered in the exhibition are countless – from Murano glass to Iberian architecture – and one is astounded when playing at applying the eight macro-categories to the products of daily use. Utensils and interior design elements that are familiar to us, aside from having evident esthetical qualities, are also perfectly functional and maintain in themselves the manifest trace of the constructive process that generated them. A subversion of common places that goes to demonstrate that, often, form is content.