From April 15th to 21st, Piazza San Fedele hosts ten totems created from ten fallen trees, which are an imaginative tribute to Milan’s resilience


At the heart of Milan Design Week 2024, the city beats in unison with the inauguration of the exhibition “Seconda Vita: 10 Trees for 10 Author Totems” in Piazza San Fedele. Conceived by Nicoletta Gatti, the project’s curator, it is a homage to the city to commemorate the devastating storm of July 25, 2023, which led to the felling of over 5,000 trees. Integrated into the rich fabric of events of the exhibition, which will take place from April 15th to 21st, the display sheds new light on one of the most debated topics of our time: the intricate relationship between the individual, the city, and the very essence of nature. “The cyclical dance of nature knows no pauses,” affirms Nicoletta Gatti. If the intent of rebirth and reuse has always been the common thread of her projects, transmitting beauty and memory, in this new chapter they become tangible and alive. In August 2023, after the tragic event, Nicoletta Gatti acquired some of the trunks of the fallen trees, auctioned by the Municipality of Milan. This marked the beginning of an ambitious project, “Milan for the Trees,” an invitation to the community to unite for the restoration of the city’s greenery, and a response to the urgent need to protect and cultivate the green roots of the city. Reviving the fallen trees is more than a symbolic gesture; it is an invitation to the city itself to become sensitized to the unpredictable forces of nature. It is an act of care towards Milan’s open wounds, a therapy through art, culture, and the intrinsic beauty that has always characterized this dynamic city. The trees, ancient custodians of Milan’s centuries-old stories, are reborn under the skillful guidance of ten distinguished designers: Alessandra Baldereschi, Elena Salmistraro, Federico Peri, Francesco Meda, Giulio Iacchetti, Marco Piva, Mario Trimarchi, Studio Pepe, Zanellato/Bortotto, and Nicoletta Gatti herself.

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Through the exhibition, the totems come to life in unique forms and colors, narrating with wisdom and intimate compassion the relentless cycles of life. An intrinsic and surprising journey, like a labyrinth among the nuances of nature, where the vigor and generosity of the trees speak the ancestral language of the earth itself. At the end of the design week, the totems will find temporary residence in the prestigious spaces of the ADI Design Museum, where they will be auctioned in September. A portion of the proceeds will be donated to the Municipality of Milan, through the “Milan for the Trees” fundraising campaign, specifically created to plant new green roots where the storm tore away the past. The transformation of the inert trunks into “living” works of art is due to the skill of artisans in wood craftsmanship from the company AGM Arredamenti, with its operational headquarters in Cosenza and its exhibition space in Milan. Owned by the Cristiano family, it has been producing high-end woodworking for generations, with a focus on sustainability and respect for environmental concerns. In a work followed with passion by artists and artisans together, and which unfolded in a collaboration lasting several months, using ancient and innovative techniques, the different souls encapsulated in the tree essences took shape. The inauguration of “Seconda Vita: 10 Trees for 10 Author Totems” is more than an event in the bustling agenda of Milan Design Week; it is a ritual of rebirth, a tribute to the green that beautifies cities.

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