Arts & Foods at the 2015 Milan Triennale

Part of Expo Milano 2015, this show explores the vast culture surrounding eats


Expo 2015 is rapidly approaching and the city of Milan is bubbling with energy and is ready to welcome the world. The main theme of the international exhibition is “Feeding the planet. Energy for life.” with the majority of events from now to the end of the year focusing on food.


The first official main event is “Arts & Foods: Rituals Since 1851.” It’s a vast and incredibly interesting exhibition held at La Triennale. Curator Germano Celant chose a traditional and chronological sequence, but the objects on display are varied and surprising. The space is now home to crockery and cutlery, complete kitchens, rare paintings, toys, videos, refrigerators, old books and interactive installations. This is not simply an exhibition about nutrition, it’s rather an analytical representation of the activities that surround the act of preparing, representing and consuming meals.


There are 15 installations—including kitchens, a complete butcher’s store, even an original bar from the 19th century. Some objects on display are experimental piece. For example the late sculptor Pietro Consagra‘s abstract cabinet is a deconstructed take on the staple furniture piece. Meanwhile the surprisingly modern rationalist and multi-functional “Tavolo l’Autarca” by Angelo Fasce, which was designed and produced around 1910.

The list of artists is equally impressive and diverse, with names including Cindy Sherman, Paul Gauguin, Georges Braque, Andres Serrano and Roy Lichtenstein—to name just a few. Designers include Joe Colombo, Bruno Munari, Theo Van Doesburg among many others. What’s also exciting is the exhibiting of works by some designers who are entirely under-the-radar or even anonymous.


A sense of nostalgia permeates the show, as visitors will find pieces and installations that trigger personal memories—whether it’s the old packaging from a favorite pasta, plates from a now non-existent airline, or an advertising campaign from childhood. This familiarity—coupled with discovery—reflects just how significant the vast design culture around food is, especially in the Western world


The “Arts & Foods” 960-page catalogue is due for release at the end of April and will be published in Italian and English. It promises to be a must-have for designers and food enthusiasts, with over 1000 images and 64 essays about the relationship between food and architecture, design, fashion, graphics, arts, toys and more.

“Arts & Foods” runs from April 9 to 1 November 2015 at La Triennale di Milano

Images by Paolo Ferrarini