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Alice Rawsthorn, photo by Michael Leckie; Paola Antonelli © 2021 The Museum of Modern Art, New York, photo by Peter Ross

Paola Antonelli on Gae Aulenti and Design – episode 1 of Gae Aulenti's Legacy

June 5 2024
Gae Aulenti's Legacy – episode 1
The exhibition Gae Aulenti (1927 – 2012) is accompanied by a podcast series that explores her impact on architecture and design, and her legacy. The podcast, hosted by British design critic and author, Alice Rawsthorn, traces the evolution of Gae Aulenti through the voices of friends, curators and international architects who knew her personally or through her work. The five episodes focus on different aspects of her relationship with architecture, design, art and performance during the course of her career.
The first episode—Paola Antonelli on Gae Aulenti and Design—features Alice Rawsthorn in dialogue with the senior curator for Architecture and Design, MoMA, New York. They discuss the works of Gae Aulenti and her career, role models in the design world, and Aulenti's eclectic industrial design through the description of some of the iconic objects of her work—from the Pipistrello lamp to the Rimorchiatore, the Patroclo, and the Sgarsul chair.

"The common characteristic is that there's no common characteristic. So this idea of eclecticism, I've always admired it so much because style can be a prison."
Paola Antonelli
Sgarsul, photo by DSL Studio
Project for the chair Sgarsul for Poltronova, © Archivio Gae Aulenti

"The Sgarsul chair is maybe the one neoliberty object that we can think about. Very much a decorative chair, it was a chaise longue. It could remind us of some thoned chair, and there is a slightly simplified shape to the curved wood, but still, it really is a special chair, you know..."
Paola Antonelli
Pipistrello lamp for Martinelli Luce, photo by Amendolagine Barracchia
Paola Antonelli, born in Sassari, Sardinia and brought up in Milan, studied architecture at Milano Politecnico as Aulenti did. She then wrote about architecture and design and taught at UCLA in Los Angeles before joining MoMA in 1994, where today is the Museum’s Senior Curator in the Department of Architecture and Design, as well as MoMA’s founding Director of Research and Development. Her exhibitions there and elsewhere, like the groundbreaking Broken Nature. Design Takes on Human Survival, shown at Triennale Milano, have had a profound impact on people's understanding of design the world over.
Alice Rawsthorn—born in Manchester and based in London—is an award-winning design critic and author of books on design, including Hello World: Where Design Meets Life, Design as an Attitude and, most recently, Design Emergency: Building a Better Future. She is a co-founder with Paola Antonelli of the Design Emergency project to investigate design's role as a force for positive change. In all her work, Alice champions design's potential to address complex social, political and ecological challenges.
Hosted by: Alice Rawsthorn Recording and sound editing: 731 Lab Produced by: Triennale Milano On the occasion of the exhibition: Gae Aulenti (1927-2012)