Erwin Wurm. Curators Choice, 2014. Knitted dress. Photo: Delfino Sisto Legnani

Workwear / Abiti da Lavoro

Afran, Rodrigo Almeida, Alberto Aspesi, Gentucca Bini, Denise Bonapace, Andrea Branzi, Nacho Carbonel, Klaudio Cetina, Cano, CoopHimmelb(l)au, Dea Curic, Nathalie Du Pasquier, Elio Fiorucci, Matteo Guarnaccia, Nuala Goodman, Daniele Innamorato, Mella Jaarsma, Toshiyuiki Kita, Guda Koster, Colomba Leddi, Antonio Marras, Franco Mazzucchelli, Alessandro Mendini, Angela Missoni, Issey Miyake, Amba Molly, Frédérique Morrel, Margherita Palli, Lucia Pescador, Clara Rota, Andrea Salvetti, Nanni Strada, Tarshito Strippoli, Faye Toogood, Otto von Busch, Vivienne Westwood , Allan Wexler, Erwin Wurm, and Melissa Zexter

January 21–April 23, 2017

Curated by Alessandro Guerriero



January 21 – April 23, 2017

Some time ago, the cowl did make the monk, the metalworker and the lawyer. Our clothes were the direct representation of our role in society and its related image. Originally, however, clothes were something else altogether. In the Biblical story of the apple, as He cast Adam and Eve out of Paradise, God made garments of skin to clothe them, saying, “Go but remember that you are just a man and that you need protection because you are limited.”

This original garment was a gesture of love – protective as well as representative and foundational of the human condition. But as society rather than the sacred came to define the balance of power, these two meanings were upset so that clothing changed from being a mark of fragility into a social function and sign. Today, our individualism has once more changed its meaning making clothing an expression of the self.  It is now a way of disguising our thoughts and of giving them a new shape.

This exhibition is not a display of “work clothes” but of garments for hypothetical, invented, coveted, imaginary jobs that actually invent new jobs for a new and different society. Today’s designers, including the 39 in this exhibition, work amid epochal changes – the decline of the myth of great masters and of the small factories of fine Italian design on the one side, and on the other, between the giant global entities of eastern virtual design and the complete subversion of centres of post-economic and post-industrial geography.  Nevertheless, there are those who attempt to discover new territories – empty spaces, experimental, staggering, radical and unknown. What would clothes look like not only for bakers, carpenters and tailors but also for an email eraser, a butterfly engineer, the one who looks for a needle in a haystack, a healer of the healthy, a survivor, or a quarreller?

– Alessandro Guerriero, Curator

Workwear is the brainchild of Alessandro Guerriero, who originally created the exhibition to support Arkadia Onlus, an educational organization that works with young people with disabilities. Twelve designers in the exhibition provided sketches of imaginary work clothes, which were then sewed by the young people of Arkadia Onlus.

Workwear is a co-production of Istituto Italiano di Cultura, Toronto and Triennale di Milano.


Part of the Toronto Design Offsite Festival (January 16-22, 2017).




Alessandro Guerriero founded Studio Alchimia in 1976 – one of the most important groups involved in the evolution of Italian post avant-garde design, with works in the permanent collections of the most prestigious museums in the world. In 1982, he was awarded the “Compasso d’oro” for his design research. In 1987, he was a founding member of Domus Academy, Italy’s first post-graduate industrial and fashion design school. In 1998, he was editor for the magazine OLLO. Guerriero’s architectural projects include the Alessi family home, “Casa della Felicità”; the civic tower for Gibellina in Sicily; the new Museum of Art for the City of Groningen, Holland, in collaboration with Philippe Starck, Michele de Lucchi, Coop Himmelb(l)au, and Alessandro Mendini; the project of the ADV Museum with Oliviero Toscani for Benetton; the “Nuova Arca,” realized with the inmates of Milan’s San Vittore jail; and an important architecture and urbanization project for district Centocelle in Rome. For several years he was president of Naba, a private Art Academy in Milan. Recently he founded Tam Tam, a school of new aesthetic experiments, where he works intensively on projects related to social themes and marginality.

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