To mark the 100th anniversary, la Rinascente, together with the Milan City Council and Palazzo Reale present the exhibition lR100-Rinascente: Stories of Innovation. Designed by OMA/AMO, the exhibition celebrates the department store’s century long creative history.

Since its early years, la Rinascente has stood out as a laboratory for experimentation. The department store became an influential part of the Italian economic and cultural scene, changing the public’s perception of the relationship between culture, design and commerce.


Photograph by Agostino Osio, Courtesy of OMA
Photograph by Agostino Osio, Courtesy of OMA

OMA/AMO has envisioned the exhibition as a living archive that invites the visitor to discover a sequence of wonders. The exhibition unfolds through a series of different visual and physical experiences, echoing the logic of a department store. From industrial design to fashion, art to communication, illustrious collaborations to a never fulfilled search for innovation, each of the 12 rooms at Palazzo Reale will display multiple scenographies and outline a different aspect of the production of the first and only department store of Italy. Additionally, OMA/AMO has designed eight window installations at la Rinascente which reference the exhibition. They will be on display during the first two weeks following the opening.

lR100-Rinascente: Stories of Innovation is on view at Palazzo Reale, Milano until the 24 September 2017.


Photograph by Lorenzo Palmieri, Courtesy of Rinascente
Photograph by Lorenzo Palmieri, Courtesy of Rinascente

Project Text by the Architects:

What is a department store? What is its role in different urban contexts? How has the digital revolution affected the practice and particularities of its shopping environment? These questions are at the core of recent debates on the future of retail. They resonate among both fashion and architecture historians, and reverberate also through other disciplines – art, design, cinema, theater – to name few, mirroring larger questions of geo-political history and economy.

There is no precise answer to such questions as there is no way to reduce the notion of
‘department store’ to a single statement. A department store is rather a diverse collection of values and identities, expressing the history of the city it belongs to. More than a place, a department store is an open and adaptable cultural canvas of its location, whether it be London, Paris, New York, Tokyo or Milan.

Today, after the first appearance in XIX Paris more than 150 years ago, at a turning point of the digital evolution, department stores are the ideal lab to reimagine our physical relationships to products, cities and our everyday context in general.


Photograph by Agostino Osio, Courtesy of OMA
Photograph by Agostino Osio, Courtesy of OMA

La Rinascente is no exception to this tradition. Established in 1917 to replace and renew Magazzini Bocconi with the fire-proof baptism of D’Annunzio, its relentless creative history is both a symbol and evidence of the vibrant Milanese culture, one that has constantly seen the relationship with industry and commerce as an opportunity for daring experimentation and research.

Conceiving a historical exhibition on la Rinascente meant diving into the store’s history and archive: discovering its heroes, from Dudovich to Ponti, Huber to Munari; understanding its leaders, from the 50-year long direction by Borletti – Brustio to the current management; and decoding its design language and graphic identity. Unfolding the history of fashion and commerce reveals a new perspective on the history of Italy as a whole.


Photograph by Agostino Osio, Courtesy of OMA
Photograph by Agostino Osio, Courtesy of OMA

To mark the 100th anniversary of la Rinascente we have envisioned the exhibition as a living archive that invites the visitor to discover a sequence of wonders. The exhibition unfolds through a series of different visual and physical experiences. Rather than a coherent journey, it is a collage of identities, echoing the same logic of a department store and presenting the many aspects that made la Rinascente a crucial example in the history of European department stores.

From industrial design to fashion, art to communication, illustrious collaborations to a never fulfilled search for innovation, each of the 12 rooms at Palazzo Reale will display multiple scenographies and outline a different aspect of the production of the first and only department store of Italy.

The history of la Rinascente is the story of the people who made it (management, creatives and clients), and the story of their ambition to connect art to life.


Photograph by Agostino Osio, Courtesy of OMA
Photograph by Agostino Osio, Courtesy of OMA