In a State of Repair @ Salone Milan 2014

In a State of Repair @ Salone Milan 2014

in a state of repair rinacentre

The transformation of an object, through the process of repair

Milan’s La Rinascente department store, in collaboration with London’s  Serpentine Galleries, showcased the installation “In a State of Repair” by Martino Gamper during the 2014 Design Week in Milano

In a country which has been suffering from a crisis of identity as well as suffering economic turmoil, a reminder of its artisan traditions and of an attitude to the longevity rather than transience of ‘things’ was more than welcome.

If the Milan Fiera was about conspicuous consumption – and even more conspicuous design, then here by contrast was a different proposition about economy in an era of austerity, a notion of something being well-made implying use over time, rather than speedy abandonment.

in a state of repair

For the Salone 2014, la Rinascente brought to its window displays and arcades of Piazza Duomo, an installation that took customer service from simple repair to total transformation so that each object is given a life and becomes the only one of its kind.

As an artist and designer, Martino Gamper is a pioneer in the way objects can be upgraded and repaired. So, not only is this installation a representation of his method of working, but it is also an affirmation of his vision of the world.

The repair process thus becomes a transformation, which encourages us to consider the longevity and the preserving of objects rather than discarding them and so making us value the intrinsic creativity that is part of the act of buying.

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The otherwise scrapped objects were not just discarded, but instead 8 artisans at 8 individual work station areas repaired them by adding ‘details’ designed by the artist Martino Gamper himself.

The artisans worked on the repairs using a limited number of materials and techniques, under the direct guidance of the designer to trigger the aesthetic transformation in each repaired object, turning it into a unique article.

Leather accessories, shoes, books, toys, electronic devices, clothing, chairs and bicycles were all be repaired and transformed completely free of charge.

Each window displayed a single repaired goods category.

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Gamper transformed the eight Rinascente window displays, with a site-specific installation centred on the theme of buying,consuming and customer service and on the life cycle of objects and their transformation and uniqueness.

Slowly all the repaired objects filled the display windows, forming a depository and a stockpile of new forms and shapes with its own singular aesthetic meaning.

It was an installation that became an experience, involving the public directly and that renewed and prolonged the act of purchasing and interacting with the objects we own.

state of repair

Martino Gamper is concerned with how the experience of the consumer evolves over time; in finding out what happens beyond the point of purchase, when objects are subjected to everyday use, wear and tear.

He expressed his hope that his installation will ‘encourage people to keep their belongings rather than discard them, to improve what they buy rather than throw it away’.

It also represents Gamper’s desire to celebrate the the craftsmen and women, artisans and technicians who repair the things that break, stop working or go wrong. He sees their work as an act of transformation, which in this instance sees each repaired object becoming a one-off piece of design.

Gamper’s project brought focus to the highly skilled fixing process that can be taken for granted when goods are sent away.

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martino gamper (r) assessing the repaired-ness of a pair of boots

The State of Repair workshops amplify the concept seen at Gamper’s recent Serpentine gallery exhibition in London –  “Design is a state of mind”, – which explores how the purpose of objects’ functionality vary based on the owner.

Where the Exhibition “Design is a State of Mind” focused upon personal ways of collecting and gathering objects, Gamper focuses in this installation ” In a State of Repair” on the question of restoration and repair.

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Martino Gamper stocking la Rinascente’s Toys repaired window

Martino Gamper said  …………….  “As well as celebrating the skills that are sadly hidden from view, I hope this installation encourages people to keep their belongings rather than discard them, to improve what they buy rather than throw it away. Ultimately, the aim is that people will appreciate the transformation of their object through the process of repair.

So, please bring us your broken things and watch them being repaired in front of your eyes.


In a State of Repair Event – Video


Terms / Conditions for the Repairs

Items will be repaired free of charge /  The number of items that can undergo repair is limited to the availability of time slots / Items can be collected every day from Tuesday to Friday 11 April.

Only after having viewed the item, the artisan will decide if repair is possible

A photograph of the item will be taken and uploaded on the la Rinascente website and App.

Items repaired could be exhibited in the window displays of la Rinascente until 14 April.

The owners of exhibited items were able to collect them from the store as of Tuesday 15 April, 2014.


Repairs – Works performed over 4 days at the Rinascente

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The Event Collaborators

(l-r) radice, julia peyton jones, martino gamper, hans ulrich obrist, tiziana cardini, alberto baldan, jochen volz

(l-r) radice, julia peyton jones, martino gamper, hans ulrich obrist, tiziana cardini, alberto baldan, jochen volz


About Martino Gamper

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Martino Gamper (b. 1971, Merano, Italy) lives and works in London.

Starting as an apprentice with a furniture maker in Merano, Gamper went on to study sculpture under Michelangelo Pistoletto at the Academy of Fine Arts, Vienna.

He completed a Masters in 2000 from the Royal College of Art, London, where he studied under Ron Arad.

Working across design and art venues, Martino Gamper engages in a variety of projects, from exhibition design, interior design, one-off commissions and the design of mass-produced products for the cutting edge of the international furniture industry

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Gamper has presented his works and projects internationally, including selected exhibitions and commissions:

’Tu casa, mi casa’, The Modern Institute, Glasgow (2013);

‘Bench Years’, London Design Festival commission, V&A Museum, London (2012);

ʻGesamtkunsthandwerk’ (Karl Fritsch, Martino Gamper and Francis Upritchard),

Govett-Brewster Art Gallery, New Plymouth – New Zealand (2011);

Project for Café Charlottenborg, Kunsthal Charlottenborg, Copenhagen (2011);

‘Bench to Bench’, public street furniture in East London in collaboration with LTGDC (2011);

‘A 100 chairs in 100 Days’, 5 Cromwell Place, London (2007);

‘Wouldn’t it be Nice…Wishful thinking in Art & Designʼ, Centre dʼArt Contemporain, Genève (2007)


Gamper was the recipient of the Moroso Award for Contemporary Art in 2011, and the Brit Insurance Designs of the Year, Furniture Award in 2008 for his project ‘A 100 Chairs in 100 days’


La Rinascente

la rinascente

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