The second Giorgio Borruso project recognized in this year’s awards is a location for footwear retailer Carlo Pazolini in Milan’s Piazza Cordusio. It is the first Western European outlet for the retailer and a redefinition of its concept.
Here, Borruso used the shape of a newborn’s foot as a kind of iconic “cell” in an emergent network of display shelving and seating. The project plays out over time, on an urban stage, or as color compositions shift as one moves through the space.
Judges were impressed both with the forms inside the store as well as with how the location engages with the piazza outside. It manages to showcase the merchandise while also creating a memorable space. It is a fitting entry into the Borruso catalogue.
According to Borruso, “There is an ambiguous distinction between our bodies and the things we wear. Like the buildings we inhabit, we shape our clothing and it shapes us. Attempts at accurately sculpting the shape of the human foot in Egyptian, classical, and contemporary art imply that footwear literally shapes our feet over time. Nineteenth-century artists who wanted to recreate classical styles complained that the feet of contemporary shoe-wearing models had to be abstracted to more closely match the feet of the sandal-wearing Greek and/or Roman people. Feet contain a quarter of the body's bones – each one part of a flexible, adaptive network; each node offering the potential for that network to be subtly reshaped. As newborns, our toes quickly take on the shape of the shoes we wear, but for a brief time they are remarkably dexterous, like plaster ready to be cast by muscle memory.”
With this in mind, Borruso used the shape of a newborn’s foot as a kind of iconic "cell" in an emergent network of display shelving and seating. Swarm intelligence algorithms or "swarm predictions" were used (and sometimes ignored) to forecast problems in complex systems.
In this case, the project site's proximity to the banking district was noted. Swarm intelligence is perhaps most clearly modeled in the natural world; insect swarms, schools of fish, flocks of birds, etc., illustrate the formation of loose cellular structures that negotiate an ephemeral distinction between object and space.
The project plays out over time, on an urban stage for the piazza, or as color compositions shift as one moves through the space. Cells also trace out their paths over time, and form larger, semi-ordered compositions.
These paths manifest as metal tubing or dashed wood slat wall panels. The cellular shelving system peels away from a plaster wall, while both are reshaped by existing cast iron columns.
The plaster wall remains like a molded remnant of this activity; an over-scaled cast of some unknown sculptural detail reminiscent of the Platonic human form. The new installations wrap into each other, but, also through the historical found conditions, each shapes the other, just as our bodies both reshape and are shaped by the things people wear.
Reinforcing this synthesis of old and new, natural and technological, the shelving and seating cells use an innovative and glue-less molding process, which bonds natural wool felt (one of the most ancient materials) with the polymer at a molecular level, thus forming a new structural composite.
Giorgio Borruso Design
Studio Luce Rema Tarlazzi S.p.A.
Porcelain Tile Floor
Targetti Sankey SpA