David Kohn Architects designed the signature structure for Tutti a Tavola!, the cultural event of the 2010 Salone Internazionale del Mobile. Each year Cosmit commissions a cultural event to support the Salone. The location and theme of the event changes every year; in 2010 the theme was the art of the kitchen and took place at the Villa Reale, a magnificent nineteenth-century neoclassical villa home to Milan’s Museum of Modern Art, and the Pinacoteca di Brera, Milan’s most prestigious historic museum. These two venues hosted a multi-media event telling the story of Italian conviviality through a mosaic of multi-sensorial interventions based on memories, historical imagery and the visionary talent of a wide range of contemporary artists, designers, chefs and curators.
Tutti a Tavola! lead the visitor on a journey to rediscover the Italian preoccupation with conviviality, from the Renaissance to the present day. The expression “Everyone to the table!” brings to mind family, friendship, well being and togetherness. Sitting together around a table is a rite that is typical of the Italian way of life, in which it is not simply the food that matters but also the way it is presented, shared and consumed in company. Within the setting of the two museums’ existing collections a series of installations and projections highlighted and reinterpreted exhibits that celebrate the art of dining, from the most intimate family occasions through to official receptions.
The centrepiece of the Villa Reale was a giant dining table designed by David Kohn Architects located in the courtyard. The table was dressed with a vase taken from a painting by Morandi on display in the exhibition. The objects were rendered at a scale to suggest the courtyard as a room or that the table as a shelter so the visitor was at once Gulliver and Lilliputian. The practice also used a lightweight scaffolding system by Milanese company Fratelli Marinelli to create a variety of settings for artworks on the ground and first floors of the villa. These ranged from screens for projections, theatre-sets for puppets and small structures for displaying wall hangings.
In one of the finest neo-Renaissance interiors of the Villa, David Kohn Architects and Milanese fashion designer Colomba Leddi created a room within a room of silk curtains printed with fragments of the eighteenth century painting “Il Banchetto in Casa Nani” by Pietro Longhi, which depicted a feast in a Venetian palazzo on the occasion of a visiting dignitary. The installation created an environment based on the painted scene that visitors could enter into and immerse themselves in the intricate detail given to the description of the guests and the table setting.
Tutti a Tavola! was accompanied by a 150-page catalogue, edited by curator Franco Laera and published by Skira, which featured an essay by David Kohn on theatre and conviviality.