Tortona is the neubau in Milan
In the decades Milan affirmed itself in the collective imaginary as one of the fashion and design capitals in the world and a referenced point for style and elegance as well.
It is in the last years that its creative soul has shaped the map of the city, recreating districts, moving places of interest and giving real room to that creativeness that before was celebrated, more than in all other places, in the better society cozy relationships under the limelights of the official gatherings.
Isola, Porta Ticinese, Ventura-Lambrate, are examples of how the districts have changed their destination and went along with the transformation. Designers, artists, photographers and young architects started to live in those neighborhoods and have transmitted in the streets and in the aggregation spaces their way of living and interpreting the world. Pretty big leap from the grey, traffic wide city and its faint tones in which I grew, and from which so many youngs wanted to get away looking for the more creative and open-minded European cities.
The same Europe that now seeks inspiration from Milan where in my opinion there are districts in continuous growth, especially one: Tortona’s area, between Naviglio Grande and Solari Street bounded by Sant’Agostino’s limits and the beginning of Porta Genova. This area is experiencing a powerful transformation that makes it much sought-after: it has turned into what Neubau means for Vienna. The Savona, Tortona and Stendhal streets delineate and delimit a district which well fits either into the most silky Milan –that of the fashion, of the design, of the art shows– and into the more spontaneous Milan -that made of street food, of nightlife and of people’s aggregation along the streets.
What makes it appealing is, most of all, its growth process. While Neubau is a district very much rooted in Vienna’s history, Tortona comes from the countryside. It first becomes suburbs and then, in the 60s, one of the areas of main activity of the Italian industry. Warehouses and impressive buildings with skylights and bricks-sight still show that. Currently they are revaluated by artists, stylists and designers who have converted them into showrooms, lofts, culture’s spaces. The former housings of workmen are now ateliers and artistic labs. This makes me go crazy, any time I look around I feel like attending a renaissance.
Walking through these streets it’s amusing and this reminds me very much the walks one can take along the Spittelberg’s clobbestones streets. Every day you can see models with their appointment book. Personages of both the culture and the show business who drive bicycles to their offices with glazed doors. Stylists who take Über to reach their ateliers. It isn’t a surprise the passage of international stars in informal dresses strolling between shops and food kiosks.
Along the ways of the district, real artworks can be met, inheritance of the crowded Design week and of the thousands of artistic projects that pertain to the three keywords of this zone: creativeness, design and fashion. Still a furniture museum like the suggestive Hofmobiliendepot is missing, but I’m sure that it will be a short step considering that Fuorisalone, that here gets its focus, is today more flagship than the same Salone del Mobile. Milano from which it takes origin.
In reality a sort of district of the art is already on the way. Very similar to the Austrian MuseumsQuartier: after the experience of the Fondazione Pomodoro in Solari street, the MUDEC of 56, Tortona street has become, like the MUMOK, the crucial center of both the contemporary art and design. There we go very often for shows and events, sometimes free entrance, with the certitude there are friends and interesting movement.
Do you ask me why you should visit this district? It offers cues that creative spirits need. As to the fashion, lot of handmade products boutiques where young artists create suits and unique jewels reusing fabrics and other recycable materials of the 80s. For your alternative relax there are many places and design cafés where, while appreciating a risotto or deli meats and a glass of wine, you can read a good book and feel being in Vienna.