Open-air living in indoor and outdoor spaces

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The “All’Aperto” exhibition showcased en plein air living and the design transformation of outdoor materials and furniture. DWA Studio, which designed the installation in the cloisters of San Simpliciano in Milan, discusses the project.

En plein air living is presented along the four porticoed sides of Milan’s San Simpliciano cloister in the ‘All’Aperto’ exhibition promoted by Elle Decor and designed by DWA Studio with landscape design by Marco Bay. The installation showcased the best of Italian-made outdoor furniture and materials, including Marazzi’s Crogiolo Scenario and Terratech collections. Frederik De Wachter and Alberto Artesani, the founders of DWA, discuss the project, emphasising how outdoor spaces are changing.

What inspired the “All’Aperto” set-up?

The set-up extends all the way along the porticoes surrounding the large Italian-style garden. It is a space that acts as a filter between the rooms of the cloister and the open area of the garden. We therefore wanted to eliminate the clear distinction between the spaces. We have brought greenery beneath the porticoes, almost as if it were an extension of the garden, creating a fluid union between indoors and outdoors and emphasising how outdoor furniture is increasingly important in daily life so that it can be experienced with the greatest possible comfort. Finally, the set-up is crowned by a sequence of coloured gauzes in shades of green and yellow, which capture the wind and accompany visitors with their gentle movement.

There is a new awareness of open-air spaces. What types of environments will be created?

This year, more than ever before, people have felt a need to spend time outdoors, carrying out activities that are typically conducted indoors, whether for work, wellness or leisure. It is great to see how people have embraced city spaces and this has certainly led to changes in many habits and lifestyles, as well as to the reconfiguration of public and domestic spaces. The outdoor space is enhanced in seamless union with the interior.

What are the main changes in terms of furniture materials and finishes?

The focus on outdoor furniture has led companies to extensively research finishes and materials with a level of performance that ensures high resistance to weathering. Outdoor furniture increasingly resembles indoor furniture thanks to research applied to materials: fabrics, leather, metal or wood that play on this duality.

How does the question of indoors and outdoors relate to ceramic materials?

We are interested in the research on the new tactile qualities of porcelain stoneware surfaces, featuring new forms and colours. We like it applied not only as a floor and wall covering, but also as a furnishing finish. When it comes to outdoors, stoneware is a very attractive choice for swimming pool cladding: depending on the choice of finish and colour, it can make the water shimmer with infinite shades.