Seven highlights at World Exposition Milan 2015

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My latest article for Cool Hunting.

This year’s theme at World Exposition Milan is “Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life.” Each one of the 140+ participating countries is aiming to show their nation’s present state of agriculture and advances in technology regarding transformation and production of food, as well as the science behind it. The Expo site (which covers approximately one million square meters) is located just outside of the city and was inspired by the structure of an ancient Roman city. Organized by nationalities and thematic clusters, exhibitors show off everything from an entire microclimate to walls covered in seeds, and everything in between. While the exhibits are diverse, the through-line is an exploration of humankind’s relationship with food, nourishment and environment. Here we outline several key must-visit spots at the event—which is on now through 31 October.

The Tree of Life

Close to the Italian pavilion, the “Tree of Life” is the core of this year’s expo. Designed by Marco Balich (the man behind some of the most spectacular events of the last decade, including the opening ceremony of the Rio Olympics) this stand is 37 meters high and somewhat overwhelming. More than just a monument, the tree comes to life every hour; offering an incredible show which includes music, water and lights. The performance varies during the day and will take place 1260 times until the end of October.

Pavilion Zero

The first installation visitors will encounter, Pavilion Zero acts as a foreword to the expo’s themes—an introduction to the relationship between humans and Mother Nature. The rich and spectacular scene was curated by award-winning set designer Giancarlo Basili, and it’s hosted inside of a succession of linear domes designed by architect Michele De Lucchi. The exploration starts with a stunning wooden library full of drawers, followed by a jaw-dropping movie screen, walls full of seeds, sculptures of white animals, a huge lead wall, reproductions of garbage dumps and natural catastrophes. Visitors are involved and shocked at the same time, bombarded by memory, knowledge, origins, community, economy, revolution and speculation. Luckily though, harmony is the happy ending.

Italian Pavilion: The Nursery of Italy

Designed by Nemesi & Partners and inspired by a urban forest, the Padiglione Italia is a completely white and irregular box made of hi-tech concrete. The shapes of the architecture call to mind car or boat design—both stand outs in the local industry. The heart of the pavilion is a journey through Italy and its contradictions; from stories about young innovators to ruins, and even the dozens of dialects. Italy’s beauty is well-represented in a series of cyclorama rooms covered with mirrors: a sense of marvel is guaranteed through the infinite multiplication of details, in a sort of dream-like abstraction.

United Arab Emirates: Food for Thought, Shaping and Sharing the Future

Advanced technologies and spectacular architectural solutions are the core of the pavilion designed by Foster + Partners from the UAE. The British architects have reproduced the elegant waves of the desert sand as well as the beauty of canyons and rocks. The 12-meter walls move sinuously and lead visitors to discover a round, golden theater. The back of the building reveals a modern structure—a glimpse at the intersection of this harsh land and the innovations of its people. At the end of October, the pavilion will be dismantled and taken to Masdar City, a town where the UAE are experimenting with the most advanced forms of urban sustainability.

Austrian Pavilion: Breathe Austria

The Austrian Pavilion cleverly offers visitors an experience with the best product the country has to offer: air. Inside a minimalistic concrete structure, Commissioner General Josef Pröll and project director Rudolf Ruzicka managed to unite nature and technology by recreating an Austrian forest and its microclimate. The pavilion produces enough oxygen for 1,800 people each hour and, according to the official statement, that air will stay in visitors lungs for two years. The installation is a peaceful oasis, where visitors rest, enjoy local food, take their time to enjoy the prefect temperature—and breathe.

Brazil: Feeding the World with Solutions

Beyond stereotypes, Brazil’s pavilion translates many ideas that many have about the nation: playfulness, fun, exuberance of nature and modernist architecture. The entrance to the building is an adventure in itself: visitors can access the structure by walking on a huge surface made of nets. The second environment is a completely white, lab-like structure where visitors have the opportunity to discover that Brazil is one of the biggest producers of food in the world—and there’s a lot of science behind it. On the way out, attendees walk underneath the nets through a luxuriant vegetable garden.

United Kingdom Pavilion: Grown in Britain, Shared Globally

Upon entering the UK’s pavilion, visitors will feel like a bee in a hive—as desired by artist Wolfgang Buttress when he conceived the intricate yet logical metallic structure. Before climbing into this honeycomb, visitors can walk through the grass, but once again the point of view is that of bees—since the paths in the grass are irregularly designed trenches. Visually stunning, this is sure to be one of the most photographed pavilions at Expo 2015.

Annunci

Cocktails Connected with SodaStream MIX

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My latest article for Cool Hunting.

Can a home beverage machine be a smart device? SodaStream certainly thinks so and their answer is the MIX. At Milan Design Week 2015, SodaStream recently unveiled their new connected device that that can be controlled via smartphone and runs with its own dedicated software.

Designed by Yves Béhar, this instrument is compact and refined. A beautiful, high-quality touchscreen is used to control the machine and showcases a series of recipes for cocktails and soft drinks. The connection to the internet allows for the easy uploading and sharing of new recipes. Simply gather the necessary ingredients, pour them into the SodaStream bottle, tap the screen and your beverage is on its way—bubbles included.

The development team at SodaStream spent two years researching for the MIX and found that different sized bubbles were needed to get the best taste out of different spirits. “In this product we made the bubbles much smaller and more refined,” says Chief Innovation and Design Officer Yaron Kopel, “A different level of carbonation suits a different beverage.” According to Kopel, the CO2 level is as important of an ingredient as any other—add too much or too little and the alcohol notes will overwhelm the taste.

The SodaStream MIX is slated to hit the market in 2016 with pricing information coming soon.

Un buono spettacolo

Lo scorso sabato Italia a Tavola ha premiato i personaggi dell’anno al Baglioni di Firenze. Una bella occasione per mettere assieme una bella combriccola di grandi chef, in uno showcooking che ha riservato una serie di interessanti sorprese.

La prima è stata l’idea di mettere assieme cibo e moda, con gli abiti che prendevano ispirazione dalla cucina, una prima assoluta per l’Italia. Un gruppo di studenti dello IED Firenze ha collaborato con gli chef per realizzare una serie di abiti, con il supporto operativo di Manusa. D’altronde anche i vestiti sono fatti di ingredienti e ricette che, se svolti a dovere, danno origine alla bellezza. E se è vero che questo primo esperimento poteva apparire un po’ naif, si tratta di una strada interessante e ricca di potenzialità, che potrebbe portare a progetti di intreccio vero e fecondo tra le discipline, un legame che non sia il solito rapporto strumentale della moda che cerca di recuperare la coolness perduta (tipo i ristoranti e i bar aperti dalle griffe, per intenderci).

Ma i vincitori assoluti della serata di sabato sono stati i piatti. Ecco i miei preferiti.

IMG_6976Giancarlo Morelli ha preparato un tuorlo d’uovo confit tiepido affumicato, insalatina di quinoa amaranto e riso soffiato, tartare di salmerino e le sue uova. Bello e buono, anche se il riso soffiato non ce l’avrei messo (non riesco a fare a meno di pensare ai Rice Crispies…). Il tuorlo tiepido mi ha ricordato le uova appena deposte, ancora calde, che bevevo da piccolo nel pollaio di mia nonna: la prospettiva di Anton Egò.

IMG_6975Marco Stabile serviva la sua bruschetta al Grana Padano Dop, cavolo nero e olio del Consorzio Toscano Igp, consigliando di mangiarla con le mani. Ottima scelta: un piatto “ignorante” (come direbbero a Roma) ma pieno di ingredienti sopraffini, da mangiare in piedi, circondati da una sala piena di persone in black tie, facendo facce buffe e leccandosi le dita. Il miglior complimento per lo chef.

IMG_6972Ho fatto due belle scoperte in un colpo solo, perché non conoscevo Rosanna Marziale e non sapevo cosa fosse la maritata. Quella di Rosanna (fatta con Grana Padano Dop all’olio del Consorzio Toscano Igp) era davvero un piatto della memoria, che sapeva di feste in famiglia e dell’amore di chi cucina per i suoi cari.

IMG_6971La manioca croccante con baccalà mantecato, guacamole e paprika affumicata di Andrea Berton è stato il vero fuoco d’artificio della serata: il gusto della paprika (affumicata) dava un profumo di legna bruciata al primo boccone, per poi svanire completamente e lasciare il campo a un gioco tra morbido (il baccalà e il guacamole) e croccante (la cialda di manioca). Una notevole infilata di sorprese per naso, palato e cervello.

IMG_6968Il baccalà mantecato di Daniele Zennaro era tanto semplice quanto sorprendente, perché servito in una cialda rigida, che lo ha trasformato in un potenziale ottimo street food del futuro. Da mangiare a volontà, senza ritegno alcuno, pensando intensamente alle calli di Venezia.

Isa e Vane

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After years of being the go-to caterers in Milan, Isabella Coppini and Vanessa Pellizza Tricarico are familiar faces among the city’s foodies. The pair and their delicious food can now be found at Isa e Vane, a cafe and deli they recently opened together. “I launched the catering company by myself in 2006,” Isabella tells CH, “And Vanessa was my employee, but she was so good that I wanted her to be involved in the business, so she became my partner.”

Everything at Isa e Vane, which takes its name from the owners’ nicknames, is prepared fresh on site each and every day. The recipes are simple, featuring just a few quality ingredients and no artificial flavors. Suppliers are selected based on the quality of their produce, nothing else. “They’re not costly—they’re good!” Coppini says.

The menu is limited so as to ensure the highest quality of in-season ingredients, and culinary fads mean nothing here. “Pink Himalayan salt does not interest us,” Coppini, who oversees a kitchen staff of nearly twenty, says. “Does an ingredient add real value to the plate? Does it actually have a different taste? We never use an ingredient because it is fashionable.”

Similarly, the attention to raw materials is almost obsessive. “My idea was to propose a home-style cooking, with all raw materials and a constant presence of legumes,” Coppini explains. “I was criticized for that choice—they wrote that it is a forced neo-pauperistic cuisine. Actually, I am from Puglia, and in my family you eat a lot of legumes, at least twice a week. Our cuisine is deeply tied to origins and with a southern touch—we use many vegetables and less meat. Every now and then we add an exotic dish, such as chicken curry. But because we love it.” There are also a number of gluten-free dishes, a choice inspired by Coppini’s son who suffers from celiac disease. (A portion of the kitchen is dedicated only to the preparation of gluten-free fare.)

As for the space itself, the light-filled cafe is a perfect spot to lose track of time. Formerly a mechanic shop, a beautiful diamond-patterned tile floor was revealed during restoration. The floor’s white, red and black tiles became the design leitmotif that characterizes all the furnishings. “Everything here is part of a project, but in the end this place has a soul,” Coppini says. “Maybe it will change, but for now we like it, even if the floor is a bit ruined and the walls already have some spots. In here, nothing is random, but you do not get the impression that everything is rehearsed.”

Isa e Vane is located at via Perugino, 1 20135, Milano.

Coffee Makers: Macchine da Caffè

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Rather than a simple reference guide, “Coffee Makers: Macchine da Caffè” is the first encyclopedia of coffee machines and extensive exploration of the history of making coffee. The result of two years of travel and research, this project was born from the passion and knowledge of Enrico Maltoni and Mauro Carli—themselves collectors of antique coffee machines.

Maltoni has already written several books about coffee culture. His personal collection has also served as a fundamental contribution to the birth of MUMAC; the world’s most distinguished museum dedicated to coffee-making instruments, which has been built inside the old factory of the glorious Gruppo Cimbali. Carli, an architect, has been collecting all kinds of coffee machines designed for home use for more than 20 years, as well as original patents and other coffee-related paraphernalia.

The book covers 400 years of coffee history through 776 pages, 2,700 images, 2,080 technical descriptions, 220 advertising postcards and posters, 55 images of original patents and 60 technical drawings, with the text written in both Italian and English. Moving from design to ethnography, iconic Italian brands—such a s Bialetti and Faema—are well represented in the book, as well as Turkish coffee pots and other tools from all over the world.

In conjunction with the book launch, the authors have also created a dedicated website, full of anecdotes, facts and cultural insights that allows readers to trace the past and the present’s global coffee mania. In 2014, the authors will organize special events and temporary exhibitions all over the world. For updates or to purchase the book—which sells for €100—visit the website, where you can also flip through some of its pages.

Images courtesy of Enrico Maltoni and Mauro Carli

Pavé Milano

pave-8-thumb-620x413-66229My new article for Cool Hunting.

“A living room with a laboratory” is how Pavé defines itself. Located in Milan in the trendy area of Porta Venezia, this bakery and pastry shop represents a singular case of young entrepreneurship and quest for quality in food. Pavé was born just 16 months ago with a specific focus on breakfast and tasty treats, but has soon become a reference point in quality pastry and bread. The proof came a few months ago, when the prestigious food and wine magazine Gambero Rosso awarded Pavé as one of the 20 best bakeries in Italy. Recently, they were recognized as one of the best 20 bars in the nation.

The highlight of this informal yet sophisticated place is La 160, an incredibly crispy croissant stuffed with a rare apricot marmalade, and—like all the other bakery products on display—this marvel is freshly made every day. Pavé’s offerings include delicious pastries and cakes, each of which have a name like Germano, Cumenda, Tonka, and sometimes a nickname too. Chocolate bars, creams and honey complete the offering. The menu also includes paninis, cheese and cured meat platters, wines, beers and soft drinks, for which the search for ingredients is constant and meticulous. And every afternoon they bake fresh bread, exclusively from aged yeast.

Owners Diego Bamberghi, Giovanni Giberti and Luca Scanni answered some questions and gave Cool Hunting a preview of the new space, refurbished and restored during the month of August.

Why did you decide to leave your previous jobs and open Pavé?

Giberti: The idea of Pavé was born in February 2011, when we met and expressed the desire to create a place that reflects our personality and our passions. We found ourselves in the middle of our worst and best moments at the same time—the worst because our satisfaction at work was close to zero, especially considering the expressive potential in front of us. The best for the same reason: The desire to get involved with something new that could revolutionize our lives was making us feel ready for anything.

Is your basic idea traditionally Italian or more international?

Scanni: Our adventure is probably deeply Milanese in its stimuli—the desire to slow down the city’s rhythm, to use informality as a key, to be patient by only choosing products made at the moment. Our offerings are also tied to Italian tradition and heritage, thanks to our culture and the raw materials that we choose. The international focus of Pavé is surely the result of our experiences around the world (reflected in the furniture and the retail formula) but above all, we want internationality to be a feeling for our guests and customers. We want them to experience a place that is a little Milanese and very European.

When people tell us “this doesn’t seem like Milan, it’s like being in Europe,”—this is praise but also a warning. It is a sentence that we gladly accept as a compliment but, at the same time, underlies the amazement of those who do not expect that Milan can be innovative again. Milan is Europe, it’s the world! It is time for Milan to be able to overcome its fears and limited views. Thank goodness in the last two to three years, this is happening—and with very good results.

You just opened last year and your popularity in Milan is incredible. How can you explain such rapid success?

Bamberghi: First of all, we’d never expected such feedback. Several times we’ve tried to figure out why Pavé has been chosen by so many people. We have given more than one answer: The informality, the open-view laboratory that makes the customer see the craft production, the attention we pay to every single product, the philosophy of producing 100% inside of our laboratory, the search for a combination of innovation, tradition and simplicity. Pavé is really a reflection of those people who work here; our staff is made of under-30-year-olds who have heart and have embraced the philosophy of “doing good food, preparing it well, serving it in the right way.” We’ve been lucky to find such guys!

After a year and more of activity, can you tell us what’s more important—the living room or the lab?

Giberti: Furniture and production are complementary so that the message of Pavé arrives in the correct manner. But we believe that the laboratory plays the main role, since it represents the heart of the space. It is also the area we expect to remain distinctive. In a sector in which everyone is talking about high-quality raw materials and craftsmanship, we take a step further; adding the value of 100% visible on-site production.

We want to bring the concept of transparency to an even higher level. We want the production to be expressed as a tangible value for our guests. From mixing to baking to packaging, everything happens within Pavé. It is a complex concept to transfer because it is often shunned, or worse, taken for granted. It is also something unique and beautiful, that we feel compelled to tell. As you can see, all priorities originated from the laboratory, without renouncing the “Grandma’s house” living room of which we are all fond of.

You recently refurbished and renovated for a new image. What has changed? What stays the same?

Scanni and Bamberghi: Let’s start by saying that there were no revolutions but some accurate updates. We have slightly changed the color of the walls and worked on the seating chart to encourage a better sharing of the space. We have positioned some outdoor benches for those who want to sit outside during cocktail hours. Above all, we thought that a lot of the exhibition space in a bakery must occupy a wider area than before. The centerpiece of the space is now the new four meter high buffet, dedicated to the many products that will come out very soon with a new packaging, a “very Pavé” packaging. And no need to panic—the sofa is still there. In the living rooms there are always a sofa and couch!

For more information about Pavé Milano, visit the website.

Seletti Wears Toiletpaper

seletti-toiletpaper-5-thumb-620x413-66422My new article for Cool Hunting

Toiletpaper is one of the best examples of how a niche magazine done right can become a mass phenomenon. This photography-only publication was born in 2010 from a collaboration between artist Maurizio Cattelan and photographer Pierpaolo Ferrari. The content is always over-the-top, cheeky, kitsch and even disturbing, and images are on point to shock and create an original point of view.

Despite the cultural and almost sociological aspect to the artwork, there’s always been a profound pop attitude in the project, which is evident in—among the others—the collaboration with Kenzo for the FW 2013-14 ad campaign, and the covers of Jovanotti’s Backup album. Looking to continue mixing things up, Toiletpaper has just launched a tableware collection produced by the Italian design company Seletti, selling online at YOOX.

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