As March comes to a close, the inboxes of the international design community begin to fill up with announcements promoting the myriad events and exhibitions associated with the annual Salone del Mobile fair in Milan in April. For those scouting rising-star talent, the multilayered Lambrate district has emerged as a don’t-miss hot spot, commanding attention amid the flurry of activity.
Dutch designer-turned-PR doyenne Margriet Vollenberg is the mastermind behind Ventura Lambrate. Six years ago, she set out with her former partner Margo Konings to launch an entirely new, large-scale exhibition platform in the eastern part of Milan. As preparations for next month’s edition heat up, we asked Vollenberg to comment on her project’s many successes.
WC: What changes have you witnessed in the design world since Ventura Lambrate launched in 2010?
MV: In 2010, we were one of the first to present exhibitions that focused on design processes and not only on finished products. It was very uncommon to show research-based projects and to show conceptual design on a fair stage. This has really changed—there is so much more interest in the story behind the design, which I can only applaud.
WC: Have you noted any particular changes specifically within Dutch Design since then?
MV: We of course work a lot with Dutch designers; although since the start of Ventura Lambrate we have brought together designers from all different nationalities and tried to always put forward an international selection. With regards to Dutch Design, I can say that ever since the nineties, Dutch Design has been very much linked to conceptual design, and this has only gotten stronger.
WC: Ventura Lambrate is known for presenting many young and emerging designers. What sort of opportunities do you hope your venue will give those who are just starting out?
MV: After graduating from the Design Academy Eindhoven, I quickly noticed that so many of my fellow designers were struggling to get their work out in the public. This was one of the initial goals for Ventura Lambrate—to create a platform where young talents can show their work, even while they are still students together with their academies. Design fairs, and Salone in particular, are still the stages to get noticed by press, to meet professionals and buyers. Your work can be spectacular, but if it's not seen there is no use. Because Ventura Lambrate has set a name for itself, we are able to attract the right journalists and professional crowd. All Ventura exhibitors—young, established; solo projects and collectives—have boosted their careers by being noticed on this stage.
WC: With this year’s edition of Ventura Lambrate, what are you most looking forward to?
MV: Every year, it is such a joy to see the works in real life finally and to observe that by putting things together a compelling story is told. This year I'm particularly excited about the great number of participating schools and academies. In total 24 international academies will show on our platform, which means that about 500 students will present their work.
Another thing that I’m proud to present this year is a location where we bring together a selection of projects that merge fashion and design, research and craftsmanship. This emerging phenomenon will be on display at the Via Cletto Arrighi.
And what I think will be a lot of fun is a special project by Moleskine. They will invite a group of young design reporters and illustrators to stroll through the Ventura warehouses and streets to sketch and document the design exhibitions, the crowd, and the spaces. It will be a great new way of recording the event.
Good luck with the final preparations, Margriet! And check back with us later this week. We'll present a sneak peek of this year’s Ventura Lambrate.