photo credits: © AMA = Aires Mateus

We need to reflect, to “think” rather than “do”. We need to encourage people to reflect on all the things that already exist.

Manuel Aires Mateus

The curatorial board of Design Variations, made up of Caterina Mosca, Valerio Castelli, Walter Bettens, Piero Gandini e Pezo von Ellrichshausen selected the studio Aires Mateus to design the site-specific installation that will transform the historic Main Courtyard of Palazzo Litta.


MoscaPartners’ Caterina Mosca and Valerio Castelli said: «We were struck by the work of Manuel and Francisco Aires Mateus for both the intense conceptual thinking at the root of their architecture and the powerful simplicity of their approach – a combination that we consider essential but never take for granted».


Manuel and Francisco Aires Mateus will present the installation The Rest is Silence, choosing a speculative approach to express a hard-hitting concept.

But sitting and marvelling, interminable
Space there beyond, and superhuman
Silence, and piercing stillness
do my mind envisage;

G. Leopardi, da L'Infinito, 1819, vv.4-7

As a direct reaction to the world around us today, so engulfed by images and noise, with The rest is silence the designers propose a void to create a new perception of what already exists.


The installation not only shows respect and appreciation for its architectural surroundings, it also gives it a new spatial dimension by imposing a visual and intellectual silence on it similar to the “superhuman silence” and “piercing stillness” of Leopardi.


The installation is radically simple: the entire courtyard will be transformed into a mirror of water that not only reflects the beauty of the Palazzo, but creates a vertical image duplicating emptiness above and within. It works its magic in silence, without images and without imposing anything – it simply highlights what already exists.


The fact that it is impossible to physically access the centre of the cloister not only forces the viewer to walk around it but it also creates a sense of desire, an impossible yearning that, like silence, generated the creation of endless possibilities.


The installation will be realize thanks to the two technical partners, Platek, for the lighiting project and Polyglass for the reservoir made of their synthetic polyolefin membrane.