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Diller Scofidio + Renfro

A Matter of Perception: Linking Minds – Palazzo Litta, Corso Magenta 24, Milano

In collaboration with: Emeco, Eterno Ivica, Gaggenau, Living Divani, Trussardi, Zumtobel
Technical Partners: Giovanardi, Maco Technology, L’Observatoire International, Redaelli, Thornton Tomasetti

“We like using ready-made modules – actually misusing them – for architectural purposes. In the back of our minds – and this might sound very peculiar – we have always wanted to use actual trousers as a module,” explains Liz Diller of the interdisciplinary New York design practice responsible for decking the Litta courtyard with a canopy of 300 pairs of denim jeans. “All of our work is an extension of our ongoing research; it’s a matter of aligning the strand of research with the opportunity, whether it comes to us as an art commission or as an architectural commission from an institutional, municipal, or private client, or if it’s self-initiated and self-funded,”
Diller explained in a recent DAMN° magazine interview about the Blue Hour annual report she developed for Zumbtobel. “The medium, the budget, the scale, and the degree of permanence change with each opportunity.” The jeans canopy over the Litta courtyard represents and reflects on these different scales. While the individual pairs of pants point to the human scale in relation to the built environment, the meshed twisted structure points to a sense of community and a collective architecture.
“What’s attractive about this particular conceit is that it is possible to use them as a tensile element, but also to actually fill the trousers – to use them as a pneumatic element that can contain air, just as trousers are normally filled with fat and muscle. Having two legs and one waist, they have an implicit structural logic, and we started to see that we could combine these units, connecting their end points to construct a net-like tensile structure,” Diller goes on.
Formally, the canopy echoes the 3D-printed twisted mesh pavilions that have become a hallmark of festivals, yet it has been produced with traditional materials and processes. The historical associations with denim fabric and handmade tactile qualities of the structure link directly to the context of an Italian palazzo. These Renaissance courtyards have always been semi-public, semi-private spaces. Denim is significant of an everyman and also has its own history, originally produced to make tents during the California gold rush and then repurposed into making sturdy trousers. All these conceits ensure that there will be countless interpretations of the jeans canopy, ensuring a lively talking point for visitors relaxing and linking minds below.

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