← home

← Back home
Failures - Main Exhibition


Failures is about the process beyond success: stories of setbacks, of broken paths that lead to new perspectives. An insight into some hidden sides of designers’ and producers’ daily work, with products, prototypes and unique pieces by design masters as well as contemporary designers.

In a world where any kind of production is evaluated on its short-term success, failures are supposed to be hidden and censored. Everything concerning the process is left behind the scenes. At the same time, interestingly enough, one of the main trends of contemporary art seems to be about putting on the scenes its own making of and its production process, emphasizing its experimental nature. Similarly, the world of makers is generating an increasing interest in prototyping. Contemporary artists and designers often exhibit their process as a substantial and integral part of their work: there are many examples of works in which the production process is the very essence of what is put on show and defines the peculiarity of the work itself. Through such experimentations, artists and designers attempt to break with the expectations of the public and with the vicious and static cycle of supply and demand, opening up new possibilities for innovation. The exhibition project - curated by Raumplan and ACCC-Associazione Consorzio Cantiere Cuccagna during Fuorisalone 2016 – is meant to interpret this contradictory context through the destructuring theme of failure. The selection of the works on show tell of the daily work of designers and producers, highlighting the intermediary phases, the attempts and trials that structure a project in all its complexity. Exposing failures is a chance to show the real value of research and experimentation: it’s a way to celebrate the process as the driving force of innovation, beyond the imperative of short-term success.

of Failure

The main exhibition displays a selection of unique pieces and prototypes by design masters and contemporary designers. These pieces may be considered “failures”: for many different reasons missed their goal or moved far away from the original project. Mistakes, imperfections and unpredictable contaminations are the focus of the exhibition. These features are shown as being the rule rather than the exception, even and especially in projects by eminent designers. In many cases accidental events can set new possibilities for the creative process. While failure is presented in its peculiar accidental nature from the uniqueness of each story, at the same time this framework of experiences may define the boundaries of a taxonomy of failure, which could provide a new perspective to investigate a project or a process of production.

Archivio Sacchi

Shaping ideas. Between designing and model-making

A selection of pictures from Archivio Giovanni Sacchi tells of the contribution of the model-maker in the creative process: the relationship between the designer and the model-maker is a key point in our inquiry about the space in between the original idea and its concrete development. A set of images represents Sacchi’s workshop and his interaction with eminent designers such as Luca Meda, Achille Castiglioni and Aldo Rossi. The series of attempts, redrafts and ongoing reviews are a constant feature of the designer - model maker relationship. They substantiate the continuous updates of the initial project while the prototype leaves the paper and assumes three- dimensional physical shape.

and Matteo Borghi

The hidden life of ideas: research and creative contamination

Blumerandfriends and Matteo Borghi offer an interpretation of the theme of “failure” through a report of the conceptual evolution of an idea, between the reference to the initial design and contamination. Blumer takes a classic design theme as “the chair” as an opportunity to explore and share a working method and his idea of design. Giving resonance to contamination of approaches he proceeds by trial and error, through prototypes and tectonic experiments. The objects on show display the material studies and the formal contaminations through which a leather curtain is transformed into a structural element through the process of cooking.

Alvaro Catalàn De Ocòn
and Francesco Faccin

Cheating success, randomly failing

Pieletrico lamp tells the story of a successful prototype that circulates among the most important international companies, receiving awards and granting a considerable resonance to the designers Francesco Faccin and Alvaro Catalàn De Ocòn. When launched, this product got a really positive feedback among audience, critics and magazines. Nevertheless, for different circumstances, yet each time equally adverse, the lamp never made it out of the factory despite its peculiarities and its advanced stage of design.

Museo Alessi

The Unforeseen

The pieces from Museo Alessi suggest a reflection about how unexpected and accidental circumstances can decide the fate of worthy projects. Sometimes failure or success is not about the actual value of the creative process and outcome: these projects were set aside at the last minute, for extrinsic motivations. Aldo Rossi came into contact with Alessi in the late 1970s. In the 1980s, he designed some of the products most strongly associated with Alessi. From 1987–1989, Rossi developed a design for a folding chair that was not put into production, since it turned out that, by a rare coincidence, it was similar to a project already produced by another company. One more example regards the first collaboration between Sottsass and Alessi. They teamed up with the notorious gastronome Alberto Gozzi to produce a set of cups and candleholders for hotel use. The outcome is a set of prototypes in brass and steel ready to go on the market, that got set aside due to high production costs and because out of fashion for Sottsass’ contemporary hotel keepers. Another beautiful unique piece from Museo Alessi is the Venini vase by Alessandro Mendini: in this case the author decided not to go into production because of a mismatch between his own expectations and the resulting aesthetics of the prototype.


Successful failures

Museo Kartell contributes to the exhibition through some “successful failures”: objects modified in progress that, thanks to substantial modifications to the original design (not made by the designer, but due to an external intervention) have become very successful products. The K 1340 chair (then called K 4999) designed by Sapper and Zanuso has become an iconic piece because of the possibility of stacking the chairs, that became even a powerful merchandising tool. This characteristic was not in the initial design, but it is the result of a feature implemented during the production phase. The 4801 chair designed by Joe Colombo in 1965 was supposed to be produced in plastic, but went into production in 1973 in wood because of technological deficiencies of the plastic thermoforming. It was produced in the typical transparent Kartell plastic only in 2011, using the original drawings from Museo Kartell.