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SUPERSTUDIO

YESTERDAY
The via Forcella "Superstudio" is considered by everyone as "the citadel of image", located in the wide courtyard warehouse area between number 7 and number 13 of  via Forcella.

The name of "Superstudio" is a tribute to the founders, Flavio Lucchini and Gisella Borioli, to Superstudio's Florentine avant-garde architect friends, who in the 70s brought up a revolution in the radical architecture field, investing also in design, fashion and other fields. The desire in common to renovate and open new directions.

During the years when the first Superstudio closes in Florence, the new Superstudio in Milan opens, at the service of image and creativity at large.
The history of the different warehouse complex has experienced many changes over the past century. The neighborhood oldest inhabitants remember an Army bicycle factory during the First World War. The activity was then transformed into civilian use in the coming years.
Afterwards, until the Fifties, the warehouses went back to produce machineries and electrical components for CGE, as it happened to many other industrial buildings of the area. In the Sixties, many of the complex buildings were instead used to house and sell wholesale dried fruits, nuts, peanuts, dates … In the Seventies, the premises were divided in smaller spaces and rented out to the various artisans who could still act as a support for the remaining industrial activities and who could meet the city's needs: blacksmith, carpenter, scale merchant, mechanic, turner, printer, small building contractor, etc.
In the early Eighties, when the industrial activities started being removed from the areas – by now regarded as semi-central – the warehouses were put on sale: some were bought by the same artisans who were using them, while others waited for new buyers and new destinations.

THE BEGINNING OF THE CHANGE
Publisher and art director Flavio Lucchini, a very renowned figure in the fashion world, who had already created the most important Italian fashion magazines (Amica, Vogue, L'Uomo Vogue, Donna, Moda, etc), after leaving his role as Condé Nast director in 1979 – which he held for 15 years – had found the premises for Edimoda, his new publishing house, founded together with his wife Gisella Borioli, journalist and director of women magazines, in a former chandelier manufactory in piazza S. Eusebio, close to via Forcella. Within Edimoda – in order to provide it with all the essential services needed for its independence and creativity he had opened the first multiple photographic studios: three studios, used in the beginning only for his own magazines but which would be requested by others too. Soon the spaces could not meet anymore all the incoming requests. Indeed, until that moment, fashion magazines used to do photo shootings mainly outdoor, attaching great importance to the setting. Lucchini and Borioli, on the other hand, chose to found the image of their new fashion magazines on the clothes, shot in studio as design pieces. Creating a style, which would soon be imitated by many, they had also increased the need for suitable studios, well-equipped and provided with any kind of lighting and possibility.
The via Forcella warehouses –rather close, wide, high, articulated and independent – seemed to Flavio Lucchini the ideal place to create modern and equipped studios for fashion publishing and advertising, which were booming in those years along with the Made in Italy. Fabrizio Ferri, a young photographer working on Lucchini's magazines, joined in and together they decided to start the great adventure of Superstudio – the citadel of image, an answer to the new needs of fashion and photography, a service available to all photographers and creative people, who until then were still working in single and private studios.

The warehouses and laboratories were transformed into a technologic space, devided into studios and flexible open spaces. The entrance hall had been characterized by Antonio Citterio. A centre of 18 photographic studios was born, (13 of Lucchini-Borioli, 5 of Ferri and wife Barbara Frua), to which Borioli wanted to add numerous spaces for "collateral services" such as a school of Photography, modeling, fashion journalism, journalism and free-lance production company, a closet for important magazines, photography companies, as well as to host start-ups of many new magazines and free-press.

PHOTOGRAPHIC STUDIOS
"My ambition was to create a centre of attraction for great international photographers who were requested by Italian magazines, as well as a place to train new young Italian photographers who were gravitating towards Milan. A sort of Cinecittà of the image in which create, meet other people and learn as well. Without hesitation, we decided to invest all our money and commit ourselves even beyond our possibilities because we strongly believed in this project, which could help turning Milan into a more international city" recalls Flavio Lucchini.
Superstudio opened in 1983, in an area which back then was still considered suburban, but which soon attracted other creative people. The reconversion of the area had thus begun.
In the Nineties, the two partners dismissed the first company and created in the adjacent spaces two independent companies: Superstudio 13 (the biggest area, with 13 studios, owned by Lucchini-Borioli) and Industria Superstudio (6 studios, owned by Ferri).
Attracted by the creativity around the first Superstudio, the different expressions of fashion have come closer to the photographic studios and have begun to change the look of the whole district. The last artisans were selling to make room for the international brand premises (Esprit, Kenzo, and then Zegna and Hugo Boss in an industrial building located at n.5 in via Forcella, restored by Citterio), show-rooms, editorial offices (Sportswear, Nonsolomoda), research workshops, training fashion schools (Image Investment, Fashion Image, Image University, Italian Photography Institute) among which the first fashion journalism private school, designed by Gisella Borioli, and other connected activities.

When fashion designer Giorgio Armani opened here his new headquarters –in the former Nestlé building between via Bergognone and via Bugatti, restored by the great Japanese architect Tadao Ando – the area definitely became a powerful centre of attraction for the fashion industry.
Nowadays, the area generally referred to as via Forcella Superstudio has become a focal point for all the international creative people, an outstanding place known by heart by every taxi-driver, an example which contributed to similar initiatives in other fashion capitals. Directed by Danilo Pasqua since the beginnings, the Superstudio 13 has been acknowledged by the fashion press as the best complex of photographic studios and sets in the world and the most important international photographers and designers elected it as their favorite location.

SUPERSTUDIO PIU'
Superstudio Più is the last great challenge to create a centre opened to the creativity needs – carrying on the requalification of the area behind Porta Genova, overlooking the railway tracks going to Vigevano, which will apparently become a public park. An initiative which began in 2000 and which has created a new centre of attraction also beyond Piazza Bergognone.
Via Tortona – the most important artery, intersected by the small via Forcella of the first Superstudio – is a long and straight street, filled with important industrial complexes, which in the past formed the underlying structure of an area devoted to electric energy productions, machineries and components.
The Ansaldo and the General Electric were two of the great industries which alone occupied almost all the area going from Piazza Bergognone to Circonvallazione. It seemed almost natural that, with the progressive closing down of industrial activities, also these buildings could become interesting spaces for activities linked to service industry, culture, fashion and design.
The huge Ansaldo building –vacant for a long time and famous for hosting the Socialist Party Congress during the Craxi era – was appointed by the Milan City Council in late 1999 to become the prestigious premises of the Culture Museum – based on a project by English architect David Chipperfield –  of the La Scala Laboratory, the Cinema and Television School and other cultural initiatives.
In that same year, General Electric, pursuing a heavy in-house reorganization, moved abroad or outside Milan the machineries which were still being produced in the warehouses at number 27 in  via Tortona, as it had already done with numbers 33 and 35 in the previous years.
Once again, it was Flavio Lucchini, with his wife, journalist Gisella Borioli, who understood how that huge complex, located right in front of Ansaldo and linked to it by an interesting covered bridge, could become another centre for hosting events and initiatives connected to art, creativity and advanced communication. Back then, it seemed natural to keep and "exploit" the Superstudio name, by adding a "Più" – even risking some confusion – precisely to reinforce the idea that a whole part of the city had changed and was changing face thanks to the adventure of the first "Superstudio" on via Forcella, only 200 meters away.
The complex offered – besides the laboratories and offices on the first and second floor – the traditional factory structure: warehouses with shed roofs leaned on long strings of pillars, each placed at a distance of approximately 6 or 8 meters. The structure was too rigid and fixed to create spaces suitable for movie sets, television studios, exhibitions, fashion shows, art shows, conventions, theatre and dance workshops. The restoration works – too massive to be planned all together without blocking every activity for many years – were carried on, as usual, focusing on certain areas, under Lucchini and Borioli's careful supervision. At first, the huge central warehouse in the middle was demolished, in order to remove twenty-four pillars, shed roofs and replace them with only four thin iron columns. The columns could support an eleven-meter flat roof and create an approximately 2000 square-meter surface below, according to architect Giorgio Longoni's project. Then, architect Marco Sironi's project focused on a space in the back, a former warehouse, which was rebuilt as an original new building with  an impressive large window –  now hosting a restaurant and two beautiful halls with floating wood floors, used for dance, music and theatre workshops. Finally the characteristically old-factory shed space, overlooking via Tortona, faced radical restoration and extension works – which would transform it into an elegant two-floor glass and steel building, rebuilt in only three months thanks to the most modern technology. The last spaces to be restored were the electricity substations and the garage, which were turned into an amazing art gallery on two floors, exploiting the bridge above via Tortona. The old caretaker's lodge was extended and two storeys were added to host offices and headquarters.

TODAY
Today, Superstudio Più is a complex of white-façade and large-black window and doors buildings, harmoniously combining old and new architectures, consisting of 5000 square meters offices, used mainly by fashion companies and societies and who offer fashion services.
For creativity and events, Superstudio Più offers more than 700 square meters, divided in 10 independent halls, that can be connected: the Art Point, the huge Central Point, the Gallery, the Loft, the Art Gallery, the Day-Light, the Lounge, the Dance, the Basement 1, the Basement 2; plus a bar, a restaurant, a wide private parking area and a big garden. Here are assembled impressive iron and steel sculptures by Flavio Lucchini, who, besides an entrepreneur, has also been a sculptor and artist for fifteen years. Inside Superstudio Più, in via Tortona 27/bis, you can also find MyOwnGallery, created by Gisella Borioli to produce contemporary art events. The gallery works with other similarly-oriented galleries, scouts new talents and keeps a close relationship with the street art, fashion and design world. In the basement, there is the Under Gallery, Flavio Lucchini's personal archive-gallery, which collects in a systematic and accessible structure all his artwork and sculpture casts.
Today, Superstudio Più is the new great centre effectively meeting the needs of the city, ever more in search of big customizable spaces, representing an alternative to the Milan Fair and hosting art and fair exhibitions.
The most important and cutting-edge fashion, art and design brands love this location. Among the big events of the city's cultural life, is first of all  White, the most important innovative fashion saloon during the fashion week, the Superdesign Show with the Temporary Museum for New Design, an extraordinary event during the Design Week, (con)TemporaryArt, a new format for a remarkable event of contemporary art during the Miart week to which Milan Yoga Festival is added, conceived by Giulia Borioli, a big festival dedicated to this discipline in all its forms. During the fashion, the art and the design week, Superstudio Più becomes a separate citadel, crawling with thousands of visitors, contaminating the entire district. In those days, the entire via Tortona and its adjacent streets are filled with endless initiatives. Every industrial space, small or big, is temporarily occupied by showrooms, temporary galleries and fashion and design exhibitions.

 

TOMORROW

With an overlook towards the future and to improve its services, Superstudio in 2016 entrustes the new Superstudio Events division to Tommaso Borioli, a young team dedicated exclusively to events organization and management. Whereas thanks to the gained prestige in the design area as the pioneer of the Fuori Salone in the district during the Milanese Design Week,  it renews the project with the new format Superdesign and operative direction by Dario Negri.

 

For 2017 Superstudio's art gallery, MyOwnGallery, confirms its leadership and opens periodically to design with Design Encounters, a series of exhibitions dedicated to its protagonists. It adds the section Superstudio Hospitality, short-rent and guest-rooms that, among art and design pieces, will be temporarily available to its clients.

 

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported (CC BY-SA 3.0)

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