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The Design System of Politecnico di Milano at the Milan Design Week 2024

Interdependence. Designing relationships

28 March 2024 — 5 minutes read

On the occasion of Milano Design Week 2024, the Politecnico Design System, composed by the Department, the School and the Consortium, presents "INTERDEPENDENCE - designing relationships ", a widespread event to reflect on the relationships and connections that define the world we live in, through a selection of projects by students of the Politecnico and from about 50 international universities. Hosting the INTERDEPENDENCE initiatives are the Fabbrica del Vapore, the Campus Bovisa Durando, the Salone Satellite and other venues in the city of Milan.

In a world where everything is interconnected, what is the role of design?

A dense network of relationships and connections permeates our existence and our world. To understand the infinite complexity of the present, we tend to isolate particular aspects of an event or experience, thus risking limiting our perspective. However, each of our choices produces consequences that may not be immediately apparent, but which it is essential to consider and understand.

The recognition of interdependence drives us towards cooperation, collaboration and shared responsibility. Design, as a discipline interconnected with a variety of systems, acts as a catalyst and has the capacity and responsibility to foster and shape innovative, conscious and collaborative relationships.

«Today, more than ever, I think moving toward a design of kindness is necessary. An empathetic approach to design that, recovering the etymology of the word from proiectus, ‘to throw ahead’, aims to consider the whole, to look to the future and the collective well-being of all the actors involved and the various elements in the field.»

Fabio Di Liberto, creative director of INTERDEPENDENCE

At Fabbrica del Vapore, INTERDEPENDENCE takes the shape of an international exhibition that mixes and matches the projects of Politecnico di Milano students (Design, Architecture and Engineering) with those of design students from all over the world. The exhibition is animated by a palimpsest of initiatives, including an impromptu performance by Campo Teatrale. Conceived and directed by Simon Waldvogel and inspired by his work "WDWGFH - Where Do We Go From Here ", the performance aims to create a fragmented and interconnected experience where different performance languages and the surrounding space merge synergistically. A fusion that occurs in harmony with the bodies that populate the space, resulting in a narrative that challenges the traditional boundaries between artistic and sensory elements.

The Campus Bovisa Durando will host the traditional DesignXDesigners exhibition, with a display of works by the students of the School of Design, which can be visited until May 15.

Other initiatives featuring players from the Design System include "Shaping sustainable innovations through design practice" and "Happiness".
The first one, curated by Venanzio Arquilla, Patrizia Bolzan and Carlo Emilio Standoli, will be held at Fabbrica del Vapore, with a selection of projects created by students of the Master's Degree Course in Integrated Product Design.
"Happiness", curated by Michele De Lucchi, Francesca Balena Arista, Marco de Santi and Francesco Clerici, together with Mosca Partners, at Garage Gorizia, is an exhibition of the works by the students of the Landscape and Interior Spatial Design workshop.

In addition to collaborating on the design of the exhibition, an interdisciplinary team of students from the School of Design developed the visual identity that serves as a common thread throughout the venues. Organic shapes in saturated, bright colours overlap and interact in changing compositions on the various exhibition materials and vinyl flooring made by Gerflor, the event's technical partner, creating areas and points of encounter and discovery.

«As a School of Design, we believe in the power of contamination between different disciplines, and we structure our courses to train future professionals to design, always taking into account the dynamics of relationships. As a research institute, we have always worked with other entities and university institutions to connect places, visions, and knowledge and expand the boundaries of knowledge.»

Francesco Zurlo, Dean of the School of Design

Interdependence @ Fabbrica del Vapore
Fabbrica del Vapore, Via Giulio Cesare Procaccini 4, Milano

Opening: Tuesday, April 16, 18:30
The exhibition will be open from April 16 to April 21

DesignXDesigners @ Polimi Campus Bovisa
Campus Bovisa Candiani, via Durando 10, Milano

Opening: Tuesday, April 15, 13:30
The exhibition will be open from April 16 to May 15

Interdependence @ Salone Satellite
Rho Fiera Milano, Corso Italia, Rho, Stand A20
The exhibition will be open from April 16 to April 21


  • Ecology and Natural Resources  

Nature is us. Coexistence is to be designed with balance and harmony.

In nature, relationships are life. Organisms, ecosystems, and communities interact with each other through delicate and dynamic balances. The challenge of design is to understand and address the impact of human activities for a sustainable management of resources that preserves the richness of biodiversity for all benefit.

  • Economic and Supply Chain Interdependence

Towards innovative paradigms. Understanding today’s economy, orienting that of the future.

A dense network of economic, commercial, and financial relationships connects companies, industries, and nations. Design is an integral part of the economy, but it has the vision to read the interactions between the players involved and each choice's domino effect. Valuable interdisciplinarity to develop new strategies and paradigms.

  • Culture and Information  

Contamination, exchange, sharing. Imagining and facilitating unexplored directions.

Cultures shape worlds and values by interacting with each other on a global scale. Data and information, through media platforms, influence public opinion and educational systems. Design, with its natural interdisciplinarity, can catalyze new forms of collaboration and sharing.

  • Technology 

Impact and humanization of technologies. Drawing new balances and horizons of meaning.

Each technology is closely connected to all others and people’s everyday life. Every innovation in one area has an impact in shaping the overall technological landscape in which we are immersed. Design offers a way to humanize technologies and to explore ethical issues related to technological advances.

  • Politics and Society

The complexity of global challenges. Designing unprecedented paths of dialogue and encounter.

From security to cooperation, from international diplomacy to peace building, political and national entities depend on each other. A map of relationships in flux, where design has much to say and do, creating contexts for dialogue and helping to manage and alleviate emergencies and conflict situations.

  • Wellbeing  

Human relations, values and quality of life. Facilitating positive interactions.

Individual and group relationships, strong and weak ties between people, and the exchange between generations shape social structures and the way values and visions are transmitted and evolve. Design is a powerful agent of interactions, addressing relationships in their essence for the well-being of individuals and communities.

  • Commons

Vital resources for all. A use to be designed in an equitable and participatory way.

The public space we inhabit, the water, the air, the energy we consume, the infrastructure we use are deeply interdependent. Because the commons belong to everyone and concern everyone’s life. Design can shape these resources and their use as equitably, shared and participatory as possible.

  • Food Resources  

Food and planet. Reformulating food habits and production from a sustainable perspective.

Between nature and industry, between local traditions and global policies, the way we produce, distribute and consume food has an impact on our well-being and that of the planet. In its history, design has already intervened in the dynamics of agri-food systems, which are increasingly interconnected, and today it can help reinvent them according to more sustainable logic.