SL pavilion debuts at ‘XXII Triennale di Milano, Broken Nature: Design Takes on Human Survival’

Friday, 28 June 2019 00:00 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}


The ‘XXII Triennale di Milano, Broken Nature: Design Takes on Human Survival’ features projects that commit to the idea of repairing and building connections, on all scales, in all dimensions, from all fields of design research. This exhibition underlines design approaches aimed not only at correcting humanity’s self-destructive course, but also at replenishing our exchange with the natural context into which we were born. The curatorial team of the exhibition is led by Paola Antonelli, the Senior Curator of the Department of Architecture and Design as well as the Director of R&D at The Museum of Modern Art (MOMA), New York City. 

For the first time ever, Sri Lanka was invited to apply to showcase at this exhibition. This was graciously accepted and materialised by Adil Mansoor of Promo Lanka Ltd. and Giampeiro Peia of Peia Associati (whose HQ is based in Milan [] with international practice and presence in Sri Lanka with ‘Peia Lanka, Colombo’), who presented their own interpretation of the exhibition theme by exploring and actualising the concept – ‘A Piece of Sky’. This was inspired by the UN Habitat program discussion around the pressing need for settlement from marginalised individuals. A Piece of Sky presents a minimalist environment conducive to start productive activities and settlements protected from meteorological variables, essentially ‘a hydroponic housing solution’. 

The sky is the protagonist in the Sri Lankan pavilion’s global conversation on how to ensure human survival through conscious thought, design and execution. The aim is to communicate that careful management of scarce resources can repair social and environmental misappropriations accumulated in the last century. Sri Lanka chose to question the dichotomy that A Piece of Sky poses. On one hand the sky embodies the cycle of life, energy resources, oxygen and water and on the other it depicts disturbing climate changes and its results such as excesses and shortages of water, the rise of temperatures, the greenhouse effect, acid rain and surplus of Co2.

The co-curators of the Sri Lanka pavilion, Anjuli Flamer-Caldera and Natasha Thompson, asked the pavilion participants to share ‘what they do or what they would like to do with their own piece of sky’ within their context/industry. Due to the extended exhibition period (six months) it is crucial that the pavilion maintains its dynamism and this is exactly what the curation structure ensures through its well-rounded content selection exploring Fashion, Textile and Product Design, Agriculture, Landscape and Conservation, Arts, Architecture (Hospitality and Sustainability), Education and Technology perspectives. 

In the inaugural month of March, the exhibition material disclosed the overview of what the pavilion concept is and how it will be explored in the aforesaid perspectives. In the month of April-May the focus was on ‘Fashion, Textile and Product Design’ which featured outstanding contributions from local talent/artisans – Sonali Dharmawardena, KÜR, Couth, Botanik Hues, MFact and Preethi Hapuwatte from Barefoot, Kazun Jayasinghe, Lonali Rodrigo, Rice and Carry, WLAB (Waste Less Arugam Bay), Colombo Design Studio, Salvage, Pala Pothupitiye and Somasiri Pothupitiye, Cane Couture, Ananta Sustainables and Urban Island. 

In April, the Sri Lankan pavilion received an honourable mention from the reputed panel and jury who selects the overall winner of the Industrial Design with LINFA, THE PLAN Award 2019 and Category Industrial Design Completed Award. For Sri Lanka’s inaugural participation this was a great start. 

On 25 May the Sri Lankan Pavilion Press Day was hosted at the exhibition, which coincided with Architecture Week (ARCH Week) in Milan. To pay tribute to Arch Week the co-curators presented a short film on ‘Architecture: A Sustainable Future in Design’ with commentaries from Palinda Kannangara (Palinda Kannangara Architects), Philip Weeraratne (Philip Weeraratne Associates) and Channa Daswatte and Suhanya Raffel (The Geoffrey Bawa Trust, Bawa Extended). This event was graced by the Consul General and Deputy Consul General of Sri Lanka in Milan – Denzil Fonseka and Prabashini Ponnamperume. Giovanna Silva, a reputed international photographer and publisher, who was recently awarded a grant by the Graham Foundation to document the existing Bawa buildings through photographs and a fictional narrative – ‘Mr. Bawa, I Presume’, attended and spoke at the event, expressing her appreciation and admiration for Sri Lanka. 

Sri Lanka’s participation is an international achievement and showcase that was made possible by a solid framework of talented homegrown partners and creative contributors: Barefoot (Textile), Anim8 (Print), Jade Jayawardena (Graphic Design/Zine Layout), Sushmita Wijeratne (Social Media), (Technology), You’re my Favorite Films (Production), Nimish Jain (Videography), Kavindu Sivaraj (Production and Videography), Sebastian Hastings (Photographer), Dominic Sansoni (Photographer), Laki Senanayake (Artist/Pioneer), Barbra Sansoni (Textile Designer/Pioneer), Kavan Balasuriya (Artist), Dulan Gomis (Gomis Holdings- Donor), Tharshana Wijesinghe (Design) and The Blueprint (Music/Soundtrack).

There will be an exhibition collating the work of the local participants in Colombo this October to share the curated and extended work inspired by the Triennale. Await details. For more information on the exhibition, check out,, @brokennaturesl @broken_nature.