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August 2014


The Tortona district is a creative enclave southwest of Milan's city center. It's full of old warehouse buildings dating back to World War I (sounds familiar) that for years housed industrial giants like GE and Nestle. Today, the factories have been refurbished into a lively neighborhood of restaurants, showrooms, and artists studios (the Nestle building was converted to Giorgio Armani's headquarters), thanks to an early move by a couple of fashion insiders back in 1983.

At that time, Italian Vogue art director Flavio Lucchini and photographer Fabrizio Ferri created Superstudio Group to fill a void that they saw in the fashion, communication and creative fields. Not only would their company offer physical space for artists, photographers, and performers to show their wares, but it would also provide all of the related support services - staging, lighting, casting, hosting, production, security, catering, etc. - that might be needed. And they chose Tortona for the location of their business (a move that many of their peers thought was questionable at the time).


Today, Superstudio is comprised 13,000 square meters of large, flexible warehouse space that can be used for events, exhibitions, fashion shows, photo shoots, advertising/television/cinema shoots, parties, and dance performances. 


The historic Superstudio 13 in via Forcella 13 is comprised of 13 photo studios with different characteristics (e.g., dimensions, lighting, backdrop) which over the years have hosted some of the world's top fashion and music photographers, videographers, directors, models, and performers.


Vogue fashion shoots, Fashion Week runway shows, and Salone Internazionale del Mobile events are all in a day's work for the Superstudio team. Countless celebrities, models, and artists have worked in the space:


In fact, they had just broken down an exhibit by photographer David LaChapelle, who unveiled his "Land Scape" show here the night before I visited.


Which left lots of empty space for us to have fun in.


To see a behind-the-scenes video of what a fashion shoot inside Superstudio 13 is really like, click through to WhoWhatWear, which has a video of the M Missoni Fall fashion shoot that was done there last Spring.

Fondazione Arnaldo Pomodoro

Arnaldo Pomodoro is an Italian sculptor known for his "Sphere within Sphere" series that graces locations around the world, including the Vatican Museum, Trinity College in Dublin, UN Headquarters, the Guggenheim in NYC, and the Columbus Museum, among others. 

I had taken this picture of one of his huge, bronze sculptures in front of the Banca Popolare di Milano building, not realizing that I'd visit his studio the very next day!


Yes, this is yet another artist we learned about on my recent Made in Italy art and design tour through Smithsonian Journeys (I cannot say enough good things about this tour...we saw and did so much! As evidenced by the fact that I'm still blogging about it two months later...)

On the second-to-last day of the trip, we visited the Arnaldo Pomodoro Foundation at Vigevano 9, an exhibit space originally set up to document and archive his own work, but now also showcases the works of others.


The installation on view the day we visited was made especially for the space by artist Loris Cecchini. Part of it, called "Module and Model," was made up of hundreds of small steel modules assembled into large 3-dimensional sculptures on the wall and floor. 


The other part, called "Wallvave Vibrations," consisted of sculptural carvings in the walls themselves. I neglected to take a photo of those so I've included one here, taken by Carlos Tettamanzi and appearing on the Foundation website; in it, you can see nearly the full installation (note the carvings on the back and right walls):

Wallvave Vibrations
Photo by Carlos Tettamanzi

Interestingly, the pieces have a nature-inspired feel to them, despite the austere colors and materials. And despite it's small size, the Foundation offers a great little gallery for viewing contemporary sculpture by international artists.