Just north of Milan’s city centre is Nilufar Depot, the Nilufar Gallery’s warehouse-like outpost which opened in 2015.
Nilufar owner Nina Yashar, collaborated with the Instituto Bardi Casa du Vidro in São Paulo, to bring together the largest number of furniture pieces by Rome-born Brazilian designer Lina Bo Bardi ever to be exhibited in one place.
Nina Yashar, the founder of Milan’s Nilufar Gallery, first fell for Lina Bo Bardi five years ago.
She was visiting São Paulo and the photographer Ruy Teixeira took her on a tour of several of the architect’s seminal projects, including the Museo di Arte de São Paulo (MASP), Casa de Vidro (the architect’s home), SESC Pompeia, and the Espírito Santo do Cerrado church in Uberlândia.
It was the beginning of an obsession with the Rome-born Bo Bardi, who, after studying architecture at the University of Rome, opened a studio in Milan’s via Gesù in 1940 and collaborated with Gio Ponti on Stile magazine before moving to Brazil with her husband Pietro Maria Bardi in 1946.
In São Paulo, Bo Bardi worked alongside her husband, as well as fellow Italians Valeria Piacentini Cirell and Giancarlo Palanti at the newly established Studio d’Arte Palma.
It was with the lesser known Palanti that Bo Bardi took up furniture design.
Unable to find the kind of manufacturing facilities available in Italy, they opened a small furniture factory named Pau Brà, where their pieces were produced in local wood.
The exhibition at Nilufar Depot, presents the results of this prolific collaboration was deeply researched, presenting also surprising discoveries for the history of design.
Yashar acquired her first Bo Bardi piece three years ago.
Since then, she has amassed another 21 pieces by Bo Bardi, 13 by Palanti, three by Bo Bardi and Palanti, and four other designs produced by Pau Brà
Yashar put her collection on show, at her Nilufar Depot space during this year’s Salone, alongside four key pieces on loan from Casa de Vidro, as well a s a number of loan pieces from the Instituto Bardi which has worked closely with Yashar in putting the show together.
The exhibition includes two versions of a chair designed for MASP, a desk and rocking chair from Casa de Vidro, and three stools from the Espírito Santo do Cerrado church.
Seven designs by Studio D’arte Palma appearing in the Nilufar Depot show:
1 ‘Important’ desk, by Lina Bo Bardi.
2 P9/Tridente’ armchair, by Giancarlo Palanti.
3 Chair, designed for SESC Pompeia, by Lina Bo Bardi.
4 Deckchair, by Lina Bo Bardi.
5 ‘ Zig Zag’ armchair, designed for Teatro Cultura Artística, by Giancarlo Palanti.
6 Chair, designed for MASP, by Lina Bo Bardi.
7 ‘P13/Rocking’ chair, by Lina Bo Bardi.
Salon pieces like the Bola armchair designed for Casa de Vidro in 1951-52 are, of course, exquisite in their cavallino leather upholstery and whimsical brass detailing
As are the roughly hewn solid pine chairs by Bo Bardi, Marcelo Ferraz, and Marcelo Suzuki from the 1970s
As well as the 5 x rare wooden seats for the pews in the Espírito Santo do Cerrado church and Santa Maria dos Anjos chapel in São Paulo from the same period that really capture the imagination:
These latter pieces coincided with Bo Bardi’s extensive curatorial work in anthropological museums in her adopted country, which is helpfully delineated in a documentary screened in an ancillary space.
Perhaps most pleasing among this later group of works is the so-called road‐side chair from 1967: ( below ) constructed out of four branches and liane only, it is a refreshingly bare bones seating solution.
The show focuses primarily on a relatively short period in Bardi’s career – 1948-1951 – when she ran the Palma Art Studio together with the architect Giancarlo Palanti, but also features a wealth of Bo Bardi’s later work.
The Church of Espirito Santo do Cerrado informed the exhibition design,
Joseph Grima created a textile scenography with Dedar’s Zen Light fabric for for the exhibition,which touches on her time in the Palma Art Studio, where she worked with Giancarlo Palanti (they even collaborated on a number of pieces) in Sao Paulo from 1948 to 1951
“ The work of Bo Bardi and Palanti laid the foundations for modern Brazilian design. They brought a different point of view, but at the same time, they let themselves be infected by what they found in Brazil, especially Bo Bardi, who was fascinated by the local vernacular culture.
Palanti was older than Bo Bardi and ‘you can see in his pieces that he grew up in a rationalist Milan culture. Bo Bardi, had a freer approach, and together they produced truly unique work ”……… Nina Yashar
Yashar has managed to acquire an example of almost all of Bo Bardi’s furniture designs and she considers this the most important show of her four-decade career as a Gallerist.
“ This represents the peak of collecting – the cutting edge In the path of a design gallery, Lina Bo Bardi represents the pinnacle of a multidisciplinary approach. Her work is the perfect synthesis of innovation and maintenance of cultural roots. Pioneering projects with a strong humanistic and anthropological connotation, a history of architecture and design made even more precious by the scarce production ” ………………….. Nina Yashar
In a reversal of the usual fate of twentieth-century design partnerships between men and women, it is in fact Palanti whose contribution has been more or less forgotten.
Research conducted by the Instituto Bardi leading up to the exhibition found that “some of the most famous furnishings attributed to Bo Bardi are actually signed together with Giancarlo Palanti,
The exhibition of furniture will be on view at Nilufar Depot until Dec 29, 2018
Press Conference ( held the day before the Salone opened )
Nilufar Depot Opening Night Dinner and Talk ( later the same night )
A dinner was held at Nilufar Depot opening night of the Salone, honoring the opening of the Lina Bo Bardi & Giancarlo Palanti exhibition
The room was transformed by Markus Schinwald’s site-specific installation.
Viale Vincenzo Lancetti 34
About Nilufar Depot
Nina Yashar is to Milan’s design heritage what Franca Sozzani was to Italian fashion.
She is one of Milan’s top design dealers, having made a name for herself collecting and selling 20th-century Italian furniture.
A design dealer with sophistication and a passion for history, her Nilufar Gallery in Via della Spiga is the go-to place, especially during Milan Design Week, with mid-century and contemporary mixing together in curatorial harmony.
In 2013, Nina expanded her presence in Milan with Nilufar Depot, a huge warehouse space with over 3,000 pieces
She has operated her gallery on Via della Spiga since 1979, but it was only recently, in 2015, that she opened her depot, a massive warehouse showcasing her collection of vintage and contemporary design pieces that she has assembled over the years.
It’s a veritable treasure trove, one whose configuration was inspired by Milan’s famous Teatro alla Scala: three stories of black metal balconies surround a central atrium, each with its own distinct units or room sets.
About Lina Bo Bardi
A prolific modernist architect and designer,
Lina Bo Bardi devoted her working life to promoting the social and cultural potential of architecture and design.
She was also famed for her furniture and jewellery designs.
Achillina Bo was born on December 5, 1914 in Rome, Italy
Lina was the oldest child of Enrico and Giovana Bo, who later had another daughter named Graziella
In 1939, she graduated from the Rome College of Architecture at the age of 25 with her final piece, “The Maternity and Infancy Care Centre”.
She then moved to Milan to begin working with architect Carlo Pagani in the Studio Bo e Pagani, No 12, Via Gesù.
Bo Bardi collaborated (until 1943) with architect and designer Giò Ponti on the magazine Lo Stile – nella casa e nell’arredamento.
In 1942, at the age of 28, she opened her own architectural studio on Via Gesù, but the lack of work during wartime soon led Bardi to take up illustration for newspapers and magazines such as Stile, Grazia, Belleza, Tempo, Vetrina and Illustrazione Italiana.
Her office was destroyed by an aerial bombing in 1943.
From 1944-5 Bardi was the Deputy Director of Domus magazine
The event prompted her deeper involvement in the Italian Communist Party.
In 1945, Domus commissioned Bo Bardi to travel around Italy with Carlo Pagani and photographer Federico Patellani to document and evaluate the situation of the destroyed country.
Bo Bardi, Pagani and Bruno Zevi established the weekly magazine A – Attualità, Architettura, Abitazione, Arte in Milan (A Cultura della Vita)
She also collaborated on the daily newspaper Milano Sera, directed by Elio Vittorini.
Bo Bardi took part in the First National Meeting for Reconstruction in Milan, alerting people to the indifference of public opinion on the subject, which for her covered both the physical and moral reconstruction of the country.
In 1946, Bo Bardi moved to Rome and married the art critic and journalist Pietro Maria Bardi
Career in Brazil
In October 1946 Bo Bardi and her husband traveled to South America.
In Rio, they were received by the IAB (Institute of Brazilian Architects)
Bardi quickly re-established her practice in Brazil, a country which had a profound effect on her creative thinking.
She and her husband co-founded the influential art magazine Habitat.
The magazine’s title referenced Bardi’s conceptualization of the ideal interior as a “habitat” designed to maximize human potential.
In 1947, Assis Chateaubriand invited Pietro Maria Bardi to establish and run a Museum of Art.
São Paulo was chosen as the location despite Bo Bardi’s preference for Rio de Janeiro.
MASP (the São Paulo Museum of Art) was established on October 2, with temporary offices on the second floor of the headquarters of the Diários Associados on Rua Sete de Abril.
Bo Bardi designed the conversion of the building into a museum.
She also designed the new headquarters for the Diários Associados on Rua Álvaro de Carvalho, São Paulo, and designed jewelleryy using Brazilian gemstones.
In 1948, The Studio d’Arte Palma was established on the 18th floor of a building by Polish architect Lucjan Korngold (N˚ 66 Praça Bráulio Gomes, São Paulo), bringing Pietro Maria Bardi, Bo Bardi, Giancarlo Palanti (until 1951) and Valeria Piacentini Cirell (responsible for the antiquarian section) together
Bo Bardi became a naturalized Brazilian citizen in 1951, the same year she completed her first built work, her own “Glass House” in the new neighborhood of Morumbi.
Italian rationalism shaped this first work, but because she was immersed in Brazilian culture, her creative thinking began to become more expressive.
In 1955 Bo Bardi became a lecturer for the Architecture and Urbanism Faculty at the University of São Paulo.
She wrote and submitted the manuscript, “Contribuição Propedêutica ao Ensino da Teoria da Arquitetura” (Propaedeutic Contribution to the Teaching of the Theory of Architecture) to the school in 1957, hoping to win a permanent position there.
In 1989, at the age of 74, Bo Bardi was honored with the first exhibition of her work at the University of São Paulo.
Bo Bardi died at the Casa de Vidro on 20 March 1992.
When she died she left designs for a new São Paulo City Hall and a Cultural Centre for Vera Cruz.
Lina Bo Bardi Projects, with site specific furniture designs – recreated at the Nilufar Depot installation 2018
The Glass Hosue ( 1951 )
The Glass House, designed by Lina Bo Bardi for herself and her partner, is built in the Brazilian rainforest.
The building works around the environment and even replanted all of the trees that were removed during the construction of her new home.
Located on a 7,000-square-metre plot of land, it was the first residence in the Morumbi neighbourhood
The area is now the wealthy suburb of Morumbi but a more domesticated version of the rain forest has since re-established itself around the house, concealing it from view.
The main part of the house is horizontal between thin reinforced concrete slabs with slender circular columns.
The columns are pilotis, which allows the landscape to flow under the building.
Inside, the main living area is almost completely open, except for a courtyard that allows the trees in the garden below to grow up into the heart of the house.
In the house, there are zones allocated to different functions- a dining room, a library, and a sitting area around the freestanding fireplace- but all are unified by the forest views through the glass.
In theory, the glass panels slide open horizontally, but there is no balcony to encourage people to go outside.
The living area is only half of the house.
The other half sits on solid ground at the top of the hill, on the north side of the living room.
A row of bedrooms face a narrow courtyard, on the other side of which is the blank wall of the staff wing.
Only the kitchen crosses the divide- a territory shared by servants and mistress, and equipped with a variety of well-designed labor-saving devices.
Centro de Lazer Fábrica da Pompéia 1986
In 1982, Lina Bo Bardi finished construction on Centro de Lazer Fábrica da Pompéia (now called the SESC Pompéia).
The building had initially housed a drum factory and Bo Bardi was tasked with turning it into a community center.
SESC Pompéia was built after a 20-year military dictatorship in Brazil that created architecture that did not mirror the Brazilian culture.
SESC Pompéia is thought to be a new architectural language controlled by Brazilian culture.
SESC is a non-governmental linked to national business federation, created in the 1940s to provide employees with health services and cultural activities.
Due to the military dictatorship, Lina Bo Bardi had been ostracized by a conventional architectural outlook.
SESC Pompéia sent a shockwave through São Paulo. In 1982 the first stage of the complex was revealed.
Bo Bardi had stripped away the plaster and then sandblasted the walls in order to find the essence of the large building.
Lina Bo Bardi’s design combined red brick and unconventional concrete towers which were combined by aerial walkways.
The building currently houses many activities rooms, including: theatres, gymnasiums, a swimming pool, snack bars, leisure areas, restaurants, galleries, and workshops.
São Paulo Museum of Art, 1968
Bo Bardi’s basic design was used for the São Paulo Museum of Art (also known as “MASP”) which was built between 1957-1968.
Her husband, Pietro Maria Bardi, was curator.
The Bardis became involved with the Museum after meeting the Brazilian journalist and diplomat Assis Chateaubriand.
Chateaubriand, with P.M. Bardi’s curatorial insight, acquired a vast collection of art for MASP, including art works by Bosch, Mantegna, Titian and Goya.
In what she coins “Poor Architecture”, one divorced from the pretentiousness often associated with cultured intellectuals, Bo Bardi sought to design a museum that embodied a simple form of monumental architecture.
Formed from concrete and lacking any sort of finishings, the building is formed from raw and efficient solutions.
She intends to create an experience that’s unexpected and almost uncomfortable, even putting the technical data of each painting on the back of the glass panel from which it is hung.