What are the origins of your relationship with Milan?
In April of 1994 I decided to leave New York and visit Milano. I had a small portfolio of photographs and a knapsack containing the essentials. Arriving at Stazione Centrale I was enthusiastic and ready for an adventure. A one-star hotel close to the train station served as my “general headquarters” for a few months.
What is your favourite historical building in the city?
Terminal 1 at Malpensa doesn’t enjoy monumental status, at least not yet. As a global hub, it’s maligned. We’re constantly told it doesn’t meet international standards. My appreciation of what Malpensa Airport represents has developed over time.; It’s grown on me. Rather than any formal design or ergonomic qualities, I enjoy the airport as a gauge. The zeitgeist of the Milan, is forecast through the advertising, the fashion trends and euro/dollar exchange rate which dominates to some extent the discourse around commerce and consumption. The arrival and departure experience at MXP are distinctively different. Upon arrival, you spend time with the passengers you first saw at your departure point and with whom you shared the transcontinental flight experience. I’m always surprised by the layers added (and subtracted) from the original interiors by Sottsass Associati. The interiors have always been a reference point.
The departure requires passengers to negotiate a gauntlet of luxury consumption before arriving at the departure gates. On this trip I noticed billboards for “Billionaire Fashion” brands. The arrival and departure to and from MXP are the brackets of my trip.
What do you normally do when you are in Milan?
I enjoy overhearing brief conversational exchanges. They animate my time in Milano. Through these pleasantries, layers of social cohesion reveal a warm Italian national character. Living in the desert of Southern California, I miss the boisterous.
Is there a shop in Milan where you buy special items?
Here we turn towards consumption. Of course there are plenty of things one can only find in Milano, but I’m learning to “buy” less and more importantly “make to do” with what’s at arms reach. When I return home to Claremont, I usually bring home 5 pairs of reasonable blue under the knee socks I can only find at Esselunga.
What is your favourite cafe, bar or restaurant in Milan?
Poste Italiane at Malpensa. The clerks are willing to patiently share the latest Italian philatelic offerings
Which new buildings have transformed the face of the city?
The large edifices peering between buildings, dodging in and out of perspective call to mind Godzilla’s mythic tail.
What would you transfer to Milan from another place?
Milano is like a irascible child, it’s perfect as it is. The defects and idiosyncrasies are part of its charm. I hope Milano continues resisting the transformative changes that tend to normalize our cities towards a increasingly common baseline.