Impressions from Milan. Fondazione Prada

Can you be a year old and setting trends as suavely as if you have been doing it for decades? Well, take a walk through the Fondazione Prada-art-venue in Milan, a former distillery turned gravitational center of must-go-vanue when it comes to art. An afternoon there will easily convince you.

The Fondazione Prada operating since 1995, opened its permanent venue in May last year in Italy’s fashion capital, revitalising a degraded area. Despite a lukewarm welcome, the whole operation has been a success. The organization that for the last 20 years has been giving us the most spectacular solo exhibitions, film festivals, curators awards, multi-disciplinary talks and debates on design and architecture, finally found its springboard in Largo Isarco, a former industrial area that in the southern part of the city that is being requalified along the lines of, say, the Moscow Red October factory. Designed by Rem Kolhaas, it is a place, marked by contrasts: gold and black intertwine, so do modest and luxurious - who else would have thought of a golden building itself?, and narrow and wide-open. As much as all the projects by OMA, also the buildings of the Fondazione are a chapter of art by themselves.

Considered the most influential and powerful designer of them all, Miuccia Prada, director of the eponymous fashion brand and of the Fondazione Prada, has been supporting culture and art for decades. As Alexander Fury, a contributor to the U.K. newspaper The Independent, aptly put it, she invented the “ugly chic”, that is she weathered successfully the criticisms and shifted the view on what is trendy and fashionable. She adds that it is fascinating “how people are perceived - what people relate to, what fascinates them, and how the fusion of fashion and culture makes people react”. By the same token, Prada’s art outlet encapsulates this very essence: a massive compound with enormous constructions patrolled by staff with military style uniforms, all of which is unbelievably trendy. The sense of style permeating the complex takes each visitor to a new dimension, including your blog-entry writer, starting with a remarkable stop at Bar Luce, designed by none other than by Wes Anderson. Another expression capturing the essence of the exhibitions is timeless elegance, which brings either a propensity to overindulge in relaxation or the compulsion to actively create and explore.

Last November, Mrs. Prada won the Wall Street Journal Innovator Award for fashion, reaffirming again her wish to stand out of the crowd. With all the fantastic projects that are currently under way and those coming up, Fondazione Prada can be considered a very special trend setter already at the tender age of one. Happy Birthday Fondazione, we wish you many more to come!



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