In the 1960s and ’70s, the Italian design collective Superstudio protested modern urban design by poking fun at the status quo and imagining its own utopias.
That radical architecture collective galvanized the design world during a MoMA exhibition in 1972, and its futuristic vision zigzagged the globe. Although Superstudio built very few actual buildings, its witty photo collages and designs, presented in exhibitions and glossy magazine spreads, opened up new possibilities for what architecture and urban planning could be.
The CIVA museum in Brussels is currently showing a sweeping survey of “Superstudio’s” work, through May 16. Titled “Superstudio Migrazioni,” it includes over 500 objects, including some of the group’s most famous photomontages, furniture and interior designs, as well as previously unpublished letters. Ninety of the works are on loan from the Pompidou Center in Paris.
Planning began three years ago, with the show’s curator initially guided by Superstudio’s two founding members, Cristiano Toraldo Di Francia and Adolfo Natalini. But Di Francia and Natalini died in July 2019 and January of last year, transforming the exhibition into a posthumous tribute to their work.
Chiappone-Piriou, the curator of the show at CIVA, in Brussels, said the ambiguity of Superstudio’s work meant it had often been misinterpreted. While the group hoped its nightmarish worlds would never exist, too often its satirical cautions were taken at face value...