“Fuori Contesto”: Mediating Tradition, Craftsmanship and Innovation in Contemporary Italian Design

What constitutes Italian design today? With a rich design history and contemporary global fairs, such as Milan Design Week, the country’s design scene is vast and diverse – to say the least. Within this productive space, we are now witnessing the emergence of a new wave of designers and studios: a group of creatives that values the rediscovery and reinterpretation of traditional techniques, making a clear effort to move away from the extreme engineering of today’s production process. The collective exhibition, “Fuori Contesto” [Out of Context], aimed to capture this particular movement in Italy’s design scene by bringing together the work of eight independent designers and studios whose defining characteristics are their hands-on work or close collaboration with artisans.

Organised and co-curated by Millim Studio, Tellurico and TIPSTUDIO, “Fuori Contesto” featured the work by Ilaria Bianchi, Millim Studio, Scattered Disc Objects, Simone Fanciullacci, Standard404, Stefania Ruggiero, Tellurico, and TIPSTUDIO, at DOPO? during Milan Design Week 2023.

View more works by the “Fuori Contesto” participants, including Tellurico’s “Xs + Xm – Side Tables”>

“Fuori Contesto” started with a conversation between the founders that inspired them to investigate deeper into the state of Italian design, involving both self-reflection of their own work and position in the market and also a wider, macro-level approach to identifying like-minded creatives. “Fuori Contesto is an exhibition that is born in a very organic way in the sense that [it] is born from a conversation,” Francesco Pace from Tellurico recalls. “[Fuori Contesto] moves in the opposite direction of the industrial context, inclined to digitalization, optimization and extreme engineering in every step of the production process,” Imma Matera and Tommaso Lucarini from TIPSTUDIO add on. “We bring together designers and independent design studios that aim to rediscover manual skills, […] doing valuable heritage innovation work.”

Behind this group of designers is a spirit marked by an organic and self-generated nature that also determined the curation of the exhibition itself. What unites these designers is the significance they put on the production process itself, emphasizing the importance of handcrafted and artisanal work. “We preferred to focus on the process, and this kind of curating led us to create a group of designers with very different aesthetics and research, but all bound by the same attitude and practice to design and the beauty of [Fuori Contesto] has been to mix in harmony a plurality of languages, forms and materials,” Chiara Pellicano and Edoardo Giammarioli from Millim Studio explain. It is this mixture of visual identities that merge handcrafted talent with both traditional and novel materials that tie together these designers who create outside of the box, out of context.

One of the defining features of the “Fuori Contesto” participants is their valuable heritage work as they master age-old techniques and revitalize them with today’s advancements and their own extensive research. Scattered Disc Objects combines the elegant and beautiful tradition of Murano glass with technical and metal components in their “TALAR” collection, thereby “[…] creating a dialogue between nature and technology, tradition and modernity,” according to Pellicano and Giammarioli. In a similar vein, Stefania Ruggiero marries her research into traditional shapes with modern materials, namely polyurethane foam. Ancient forms turn into textured objects that simultaneously seem familiar and alien.

Looking ahead into the future of “Fuori Contesto”, its organic nature allows for a multitude of possibilities. “It is a project that never really put any limits to it. It is just born from a conversation among colleagues and that is where I think [the] strength [lies] because as I said, when you have no [direct] aim, you also have no limits,” Pace emphasizes. “So, it is interesting to see also for us where this project is going to go.” With the majority of participants already working outside of Italy’s borders, the spirit of “Fuori Contesto” has already spread and manifested itself in new directions. It is safe to say that this new generation of creatives presents a refreshing take on Italian design by mediating tradition, craftsmanship and innovation.

Browse our Collection of Handcrafted Italian Design by the “Fuori Contesto” Exhibitors

Related Articles


Subscribe and get 5% off
your first purchase