Assertive modernity | The Plan
  1. Home
  2. Magazine 2020
  3. The Plan 121
  4. Assertive modernity

Assertive modernity

Residential and office complex Bergamo+

Antonio Citterio Patricia Viel (ACPV)

Assertive modernity
By Valerio Paolo Mosco -

Milan is all the rage in Italy today: Milan, the city state, as if it were detached from the rest of the country, with the style of its own: an assertive modernity, whose regular, efficient pace unfolds as a series of well packaged events that often, however, seem oblivious of their own raison d’être. Certainly though, no one can deny that Milan today has a style of its own, a measured but not self-effacing way of presenting itself, a style focused on finding the right tone, which at the end of the day is yet another trait of its slightly dichotomous bourgeois culture. For Milan’s pendulum swings between self-satisfaction and anxiety about being à la page, of being really sure it spearheads modern Europe. If ever Milan has an enemy in the style department, it is kitsch, bad taste exhibited by exaggeration and unbecoming ostentation, failing to find that subtle balance between form and content. The city’s response to kitsch is to exalt its measured composure. But then, on realizing this composure has itself become a cliché, it adroitly but selectively reinstates kitsch, allowing it out of the box in design, and especially fashion. And that is when it becomes apparent how the Milan style actually works: sobriety stands like a pole firmly planted in the ground while the elastic of expressivity attached to the pole is pulled almost to breaking point only to be then released to return within the confines of good taste, that aurea mediocritas recommended by Ernesto Nathan Rogers after World War II as a sign of stabilizing and therefore reliable modernity. This is not a recent phenomenon for Milan; it goes back a long way. It is even reflected in the prose style of the city’s most famous writer, Alessandro Manzoni. His flowing, measured but never pedantic style is in a certain sense anonymous, inventing nothing, but at the same time able to give ordinary words a very...

Proceed with your preferred purchase option to continue reading
Digital

Digital

5.49 €
Print

Print

15.00 €
Subscription

Subscription

From 35.00 €
Keep up with the latest trends in the architecture and design world

© Maggioli SpA • THE PLAN • Via del Pratello 8 • 40122 Bologna, Italy • T +39 051 227634 • P. IVA 02066400405 • ISSN 2499-6602 • E-ISSN 2385-2054