Italian Genius embraces Korea and Japan through Nathalie’s voice.

Milano Genius continues on becoming connection point, on international base, for those projects that spread Italian creativity and arts into well framed fields and perspectives.

Another example of these artistic dynamism under the format Milano Genius is represented by #CrossingDistances, the international tour which sees Nathalie as protagonist of cross cultural journey through emotions and music.

The ideal of Milano Genius is creating a contact between different cultures, mainly enforcing contents from the municipalities of Milan towards international destinations, featuring on creative and cultural topics. That’s the reason why it suits to #CrossingDistances.

The format sustained by ACTAgency and ASGProduzioni after being introduced in Milano as first performing stage for the italo-belgian singer continued with successful participation in Korea (Seoul) and Japan (Tokyo).

Nathalie Tour Generale Cover

In particular for Seoul, where Nathalie performed on 26 and 27 of September, the invitation was important occasion to participate at the 11th Italian Film & Art Festival in Seoul, as cultural ambassador.

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Thanks to Nathalie and her artistic involvement on cross cultural dialogue through music and arts, Milano Genius could been properly represented in Korea for first time and in Japan (Live in Shimokitazawa on 28th of September) again after many activities that already have taken place in Osaka in 2019 about design, contemporary art, performing art and music as well.

Nathalie chitarra IFAF

The cooperation between Korea and Milano keeps going, in fact the organizing Company of IFAF is planning an edition of the Korean Film Festival in Milan in collaboration with Asian Studies Group, opportunity that will become another source of cultural exchange and mutual promotion for successful cooperation for the future.

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Milano Genius 2019: Organizers, Patronizing cities and Designers meet each other at Palazzo Marino.

By Kevin Carrara

The Milano Design Week represents for Milano Genius 2019 an opportunity to strengthen institutional and cultural ties between the two twinned cities of Milan and Osaka. The project, produced by the Italian Cultural Institute in Osaka and coordinated by Asian Studies Group, allowed young and talented designers to exhibit their works, selected under different themes, located to three important partners:

Take a Seat in Superstudio Group.

Design and Planet in Asian Studies Group.

Cool Japan in Corte dei Miracoli.

The joint efforts of the organizers, the patronizing cities and the partners resulted in an important event on April 8. Last Monday, the figures who have invested more in Milano Genius 2019 met with the designers involved in the project at Palazzo Marino in Milan:

Paolo Cacciato, President of Asian Studies Group.

Yuji Amamiya, General Consul of Japan in Milan.

Silvia La Ferla, Chief of the International Relations and Cooperation Development office of the city of Milan.

Gisella Borioli, CEO of Superstudio Group.

Federico Filippo Fagotto, Director of Corte dei Miracoli.

The Meeting

Paolo Cacciato, as co-organizer of the event, summarized the project Milano Genius 2019 and the value that it represents for the two twinned Municipal Cities of Osaka and Milan. He emphasized the importance that ASG has always given to creativity and young talent: he has always tried his best in order to create opportunities to express such qualities. He also pointed out already planned events in Osaka of culinary, musical and artistic nature.

During the ceremony, the guests had the pleasure to hear a speech from Yuji Amamiya, the General Consul of Japan in Milan, in which he stated how much proud he is of the project:

It has been a great joy for me and this Consolate to learn that in occasion of the Milano Design Week there would have been hold an event like this one, capable of representing a starting point for youth Japanese artists and designers and for their international activities.

Silvia La Ferla pointed out the relevance of Milano Genius in order to enforce and strengthen the relation between Milan and Osaka and how cultural and creative exchange are the foundations for a greater mutual understanding necessary to create, together, projects and tools that benefit both realities. Then, the Municipality of Milan donated to each designer some images of Milan of past years, believing that the medieval beauty of the city will help them remember the wonderful collaboration that took place here.

Federico Filippo Fagotto talked about the importance that he gives to art and creativity. Furthermore, he spoke about his pride and joy regarding the wonderful collaboration that Corte dei Miracoli found working alongside Asian Studies Group, a long-standing collaboration that began with a casual meeting between him and Paolo Cacciato. A fortuitous event full of opportunities, personal growth and mutual benefit.

Last but not least, Gisella Borioli pointed out how she started her personal relation with Japan during Osaka Expo 1970 and how her personal passion could finally be applied in a creatively and valid project. Working with Japanese designers has allowed her to absorb part of their culture while encouraging new collaborations in the future.

At the end of the institutional speeches, certificates of participation in the Milano Genius 2019 project were delivered to every designer by the individual partners. The involvement of cultural partners, city institutions and young creative people is a winning formula that benefits and brings honor to all those involved.

Design And Planet at Asian Studies Group: Japanese approach to environmental sustainability

April is the month of Design for Milano Genius 2019. The last of the themes of the Open Call, Design Made in Osaka, a project produced by Italian Institute of Culture in Osaka and coordinated by Asian Studies Group, is presented at Milano Design Week 2019 under the name of Design and Planet with a focus on the delicate but important theme of eco-sustainability.

As for the European presented in Osaka on November 3rd 2018 at the Italian Institute of Culture in Osaka, this time Milano Genius 2019 allows young Japanese designers to introduce their own work on the theme of environment and sustainability, so as to favor a renewed cultural exchange between Osaka and Milan, twin cities.

Despite the small number of projects selected for this theme, they are closely linked by two different ways of approaching the topic, with a style that reflects the difference in age and path of the artists.

The selected works will be exhibited at the colorful theatrical space of Corte dei Miracoli (Via Mortara 4, Milan) and at the Milan headquarters of Asian Studies Group (Via Eustachi 9, Milan) from 9th to 14th April partecipating to Milano Design Week 2019.

Mayumi Kuwayama with “Molecules”

Mayumi Kuwayama is a contemporary artist born in Osaka. Despite her young age she does installation art and object creation in various spaces such as hotels, shops and department stores. In collaboration with Re: fa, a Japanese company that creates innovative chairs and sofas but that also replaces them by old design pieces and fabrics, has given life to “Molecules” a chair created by the union of small fragments of recycled fabric coming from industrial and home processing.

All the pieces, joined together, like many small molecules, allow the structure of the seat to vary continuously and in an agile way, depending on how it is assembled, to satisfy the desire of personalization of each of us.

The flexibility of the work and the recycled material, assembled in a rather simple but carefully studied manner, have allowed the reuse of otherwise useless material giving them new life and new possibilities of expression.

Mayumi Kuwayama and Re: Fa have therefore given a particularly modern look to the issue of eco-sustainability. An eco-sustainability that meets the needs of contemporary man who requires customization and the possibility of changing the environment, even the seat, according to his taste.

Wataru Kurogi With “Endangered Insect”

Under a completely different perspective, the work of Wataru Kurogi, a 22-year-old student attending to design course at the Art University in Osaka, called Endangered Insect attempted to show the extraordinary beauty of some endangered species generally not advertised and welcomed by the general public.

In fact, when we think about endangered animals, we underestimate the importance and beauty of small-size animals. This is especially true for insects that most people feel disgusted with.

This project allows the audience to appreciate such species that are frequently forgotten by the public and the attention of the media rather for the large mammals featured in numerous films and documentaries.

A design that wants to attract attention and presents a theme under a different vision from the common perspective. Despite the very young age, the designer’s eyes have shown a strong ability to know and see the environment in its most intrinsic beauty, an ability usually belonging to individuals of a more advanced age. A design that therefore wants to amaze and, above all, to teach.

Two artists from two different generations who dialogue with each other and who want to emphasize the importance of eco-sustainability both in inanimate things and in animate beings.


Milano Genius 2019 continues to propose high-quality artistic content and, since April is now approaching, Milan Design Week 2019 happens to be the next scheduled event .

Our project, organizedby the Italian Institute of Culture Osaka and coordinated by Asian Studies Group as far as Milan is concerned, will significantly take part during the Design Week from April 9th to April 14th thanks to the participation of a specially selected group of Japanese designers.

As already mentioned, Milano Genius works with Superstudio Group within the Design made in Osaka project, for one of the three themes of the event, the one named “Take a Seat”.

Differing from Cool Japan and Design and Planet (respectively presented at Corte dei Miracoli and ASG headquarters in Milan in the same period), Take a Seat deals with three seating artifacts created by talented Japanese artists,whose works have been selected by the organizers of the event. The three designers will then have the possibility to exhibit their projects within such a prestigious event as the Design Week.

The exhibition concerning Take a Seat will take place at the Superstudio Più location, in an area like the Tortona district, where Superstudio has given a vital contribution to its urban redevelopment, and the selected projects that will be available from April 9th are “Exist Chair” by Luna Naito, “Venation” by Mayumi Kuwayama and “With Bamboo” by A Chi x cosi = eco (formed by artists Akino Iida, Eko Yasuno and Koji Sakai).

The “Exist Chair” project has been developed by young Japanese student Luna Naito, who currently studies Design at the University of Osaka. Being her main aim that of creating artworks tightly connected to nature and capable of unconsciously attracting the audience, her project seems a sum up of her beliefs, thanks to a chair that recalls a big creature standing on its four legs.

Exist Chair by Luna Naito

In addition, the way in which it is constructed creates the illusion of the plane plate to be bent. With its simplicity in design and materials (maily wood) , the chair is not strange but still very noticeable. Also remarkable is the fact that for its assembly glues are not needed, allowing this project to be considered as an example of sustainable art.

As far as “Venation” by Mayumi Kuwayama is concerned, the main focus is the philosophy of “sustaining”. The veins in which energy is free to flow can become complex, they can sustain themselves and others too. The artwork’s theme is that  “A storm reinforces nature and all human beings are connected to nature through roots.” It doesn’t matter how strong and destructive the storm may be, the tree will always survive as human beings do. Beyond all difficulties and problems, our roots will become always stronger. Nature and human beings live together and they have been connected since forever.

Venation by Mayumi Kuwayama

The project, created using fiber of hemp and wire, shows Kuwayama’s experience in art installation and design object creation, works that she often presents in a variety of highly attended locations.

With regard to the third project, “With Bamboo” by artistic group A Chi x cosi = eco, it aims to be a piece of furniture for Landscape Design. This means that such designs are to be considered as elements that fit into the natural scenery, apart from being comfortable for our bodies. For example, bamboo forests are familiar or nostalgic for Japanese people.

In its structure, its continuing tall lines generate fresh air, allowing this project to be considered as something more than just a physical tool. Design should be friendly with nature, as well as nature is kind with human beings. The chair is also a “bamboo forest”, created with bamboo sticks from Wada city, that aims to represent a solution for the abandoned forests in Osaka.

With Bamboo by A Chi x cosi = eco

A brief explanation of the selected projects is therefore needed to allow the audience to fully understand their deep meaning and the logic behind their creation. Only a careful observer will in fact be able to appreciate the beauty that Milano Genius 2019 and Design made in Osaka offer to us during the upcoming Milan Design Week 2019.

Mistero Buffo in Osaka, a play to go beyond linguistic diversity

After the Italian Design Day 2019 in Osaka and its focus on design as an instrument for urban redevelopment and creative expression, our Milano Genius 2019 produced by Italian Institute of Culture in Osaka, continues to propose high quality content through a variety of cultural events concerning Contemporary Art, Theatre and Food in the months to follow.

More specifically, in April (on April 12th)  the attention will be on the performance of Mistero Buffo, theatrical representation by Dario Fo and Franca Rame that, thanking collaboration with Italian Institute of Culture of Osaka will be reinterpreted at the Osaka Central Public Hall (municipality of the city) by theatrical company Fronda Anomala thanks to an innovative prospective that merges performative evolution and continuity.

MG2019 - MisteroBuffo A4 jap

The famous play by Fo and Rame recalls a tradition during which jesters used to wander from a city to another to narrate engaging stories with the aim of breaking, in some ways, traditional bonds connected to linguistic diversity while addressing an ever-changing audience too: rich and poor people, with different origins and traditions.  

The theatrical company Fronda Anomala, formed by Elisa Pistis, Diego Coscia and Lorenzo Tolusso, will interpret this old practice once again, with great energy but especially with an important moral to impart: bringing current messages to the public through universal and old stories.

The result of this recipe is a performance that not only entertains and moves the audience, but also makes people reflect through the simple use of hyperbolic language, mimic and gesture but, at the same time, avoiding the use of massive theatre props.

Dario Fo and Franca Rame

Another key factor that makes this representation so innovative is the way in which communication is conceived. As a result, Mistero Buffo by Fronda Anomala plays with different languages, from Piedmontese and Sardian to non-existing languages. However, the audience still perceives central concepts and feelings; the magic expressed by the actors will in fact  help them to prevent the main message of the play from being damaged. 

The location,bchosen for the representation by Italian Institute of Culture in Osaka, is another element that seems anything but random. Being the municipality of the city, this building represents a symbol for the entire Osaka (alongside Osaka’s castle) and it is often used to host cultural, artistic and social activities that help both visitors and performers to dedicate time and passion to culture.

Osaka Public City Hall

Given such premises, Milano Genius 2019 continues its successful journey among culture, creativity and innovation. All that’s left to do now is wait and discover what is yet to come.

Municipal patronage for Milano Genius 2019

The municipality of Milan has granted Milano Genius 2019 its patronage, as an important and stimulating event that fosters occasions of comparison and cultural exchange between Osaka and Milan, whose strong bond of sister cities is further strengthened because of EXPO 2015 (in Milan) and 2025 (in Osaka).

Milano Genius is entirely supported by the Italian Institute of Culture in Osaka and co – ordinated by Asian Studies Group in Italy but, with the recent recognition from the municipality that officially supports and believes in its effectiveness,  it officially presents itself as an opportunity to enhance the privilege of the city in a foreign country like Japan.

Now what surprises the most is not only the concession of the patronage with which an authority like the Municipality of Milan has decided to support our project, but also the fact that the event will not physically take place in the Italian territory but in Japan.

As a result, according to the guidelines of the Municipality in terms of patronage concession, the municipal patronage can be granted in case of social, cultural, educational, scientific or touristic events that are able to promote the general image of the city within the international scenario.

Events like these should also prove to be socially relevant in terms of the history and the traditions of the city or to strengthen national and international relationships in different fields involved in their realization.

Consequently, such events are seen as opportunities that can significantly contribute to the growth and the enhancement of the local community, its reputation and its products.  

Exceptions to this rule are rare since they require a complicated procedure in order to  successfully obtain the patronage and only occur when the event does not physically occur in Milan but its realization still strongly benefits the city.

One of the very few antecedents that we can take as an example is that of the Leosphere, the wooden sphere inspired by Leonardo da Vinci’s studies installed in Chicago in 2018 in occasion of the 45th anniversary of the twinning status between Chicago and Milan.

As for Milano Genius, the cultural advantages that this manifestation can bring to Milan are numerous and enclose multiple artistic fields.

In fact, many events will take place in internationally- known locations such as the Osaka City Hall, the Knowledge Salon or the Swissôtel. Furthermore, the entire project focuses on the city of Milan and deals with Italian artists and performers, whose artistic, creative, photographic contents regard Milan as their primary object of promotion.

Osaka City Hall

In the following months Milano Genius 2019 will have to prove its full potential through a variety of events and exhibitions during which selected artists will allowed to gain recognition and visibility in a foreign context but always representing the essence of their local culture, what creative contents Milan creates in fields like Art, Design, Performing Arts and Photography in the name of innovation and cultural exchange.

Opera Unica featuring Milano Genius 2019: introducing Filippo Cristini

Milano Genius 2019 represents the ultimate emblem of artistic expressions in every field, from design and theater to contemporary art. Thanks to the support of the Italian Institute of Culture in Osaka and the coordination of Asian Studies Group, a series of selected Italian artists will be presented during several cultural events in the city of Osaka.

As indicated in the programme of the project, the month of February will be dedicated to contemporary art, thanks to Opera Unica featuring Milano Genius 2019, the event that will take place from February 22nd to March 7th at Spazio Arte and during which the Italian Institute of Culture in Osaka presents the artworks of Filippo Cristini, young Italian artist who joined the Switch on Your Creativity hub (4th edition).

Filippo Cristini is a talented artist who lives and works in Milan. Graduated in Philosophy in 2014 at the University of Pavia, he currently attends a master degree at Brera Academy of Fine Arts. The opportunity given him by Opera Unica  surely represents an important chance in his career to gain international visibility and reach a wider audience.

He expresses his satisfaction with regard to the project and is also willing to briefly present the artwork that he is going to present in Osaka, named “The Sheltering Sky”.

The Sheltering Sky (100 x 120) by Filippo Cristini

Regarding the artwork, he explains that “The Sheltering Sky’ is one of my last series of artworks dedicated to the landscape and, after more than a year since its creation I now realize, clearer than then, how this work represents a synthesis of the themes I was interested in at that time. The research regards a series of opposite couples: open/closed, nature/artifice, project/spontaneity, air/land and the title offers an important and not univocal instrument, an interpretative key for the artwork. This “sheltering sky” evokes, more in English than in Italian, the two fundamental elements that the artworks consist of: an aerial prospective of anonymous landscapes and  plants from anti – aerial refuges in Milan in the 1940s”.     

Huge influence for his artistic creation is the Milanese context, where Filippo Cristini lives and works. As a result, he has been specially chosen for Milano Genius 2019 due to his strong artistic bond with the Italian city. His ability to reinterpret in a subjective and introspective way traditional symbols and landscapes of Milan is what contributes to conceive his artistic production as a representation of his ego and as a concrete sign of how space is able to inspire artists in their representations.

“Pietra Nebbia Acciaio” (1024 x 1008) by Filippo Cristini

Examining the artwork in further detail, the author describes his artwork as “a distorted vision, on one hand the vision from above and on the other hand a sort of careful analysis of the ground”.  He then adds “I like to think about “The Sheltering Sky” as a series of ripped frescos in which the historic and the pictorial dimensions overlap in various meaningful layers.  The white sign that represents the map of the refuges I wanted to interrupt the naturalistic vision of the landscape and, at the same time, distance from the traditional representation of urban spaces, almost considering the planimetry as the nearest element to represent instead of the space intended as a concept”.

When asked about the influence of the city on his artworks he claims that “In Italy, the Milanese context is undoubtedly very lively if not the liveliest from the artistic point of view” and such a stimulating environment contributes to his artistic flair “Spending time with friends and other artists during exhibitions and opening ceremonies is always an occasion of incentive and exchange in terms of new working and artistic directions”.

“Il sogno assiromilanese” (1024 x 960), 2017 by Filippo Cristini

The artist also underlines a central belief according to which “The globalization and the influence of Internet have had a huge impact on our way of conceiving images. The artistic practice cannot remain indifferent to this fact, and fortunately it has not happened”.

Despite this fact, Filippo Cristini is convinced that “the artistic enjoyment offered in person still has its sense”, even more so in a society where “ we have immediate access to everything and in every part of the world”.

The bliss and feeling that the artistic practice is able to provide to its audience seems therefore invaluable, and that is exactly what Opera Unica and Milano Genius aim to protect and celebrate.

If Milano speaks Genius

Being Milan the city of great working opportunities and cultural development, it is easy to understand why fields like design, theater, music and performative arts of any kind are so important to allow people to appreciate not only their culture, but also foreign ones.

Given this positive framework, 2019 has been envisioned a great year in terms of cultural exchange among countries with very different traditions, with the aim of investigating lifestyles far from ours.

This is surely the case of Italy and Japan, that will merge their habits this upcoming year, thanks to our project named Milano Genius 2019,  already introduced as framework co-supported by Switch on Your Creativity (the 6th edition), promoted and developed by the Italian Institute of Culture in Osaka in collaboration with Asian Studies Group as Milan located and partnered organisation.

These two municipalities are not stranger to each other: both of them are in fact cities of EXPO (Milan in 2015 and Osaka in 2025) and they also share the status of sister cities. Milano Genius undoubtedly is a further opportunity for these countries to promote Italian artists, such as musicians, actors, dancers and artists in a series of events and cultural exhibitions between the months February and June.

An additional aspect of the project is that it aims to be developed in different locations around Osaka, from traditional theaters to more unconventional settings like museums, halls and universities. Here arts, culture and innovation will reach the so called “merging point”, where cultural boundaries of both countries will join to celebrate the essence of culture everywhere and in every form, thanks to a communication system that involves emotions and goes beyond the linguistic aspect.