The lauded design program’s founders and alumni reflect on the platform’s role in supporting emerging design talents
Over a decade ago, Turin-based designers, architects, and curators Barbara Brondi and Marco Rainò launched IN Residence, an internationally acclaimed program dedicated to supporting emerging design talents. Together, they produce experimental, theoretically driven workshops, exhibitions, and publications—as well as a recently debuted series of design residencies—all with the intention of reflecting on design “as a tool for social and cultural transformation.” IN Residence’s aim, the founders say, “is to make a contribution by stimulating study and exploration: because the production of knowledge is the most powerful and refined strategic lever through which to design the positive evolution of our communities.”
IN Residence has secured a stellar reputation thanks to Brondi and Rainò’s deep design expertise; timely, dialogue-driven curriculum; and almost uncanny eye for new talent. Each summer, the duo invites rising star designers, often those just about to “burst” on the international scene—Sabine Marcelis, Anton Alvarez, and the like—as designer-tutors for their annual thematic workshops, in which they explore a single, open-ended question.
Brondi and Rainò—who additionally head up creative studio BRH+—have also earned the respect and adoration of the many independent talents with whom they engage. As Italian designer Antonio Aricò says, “Marco and Barbara come from a generation of designers dedicated to a deep understanding of the history and discipline of design. They are discrete and charismatic at the same time. And above all they’ve become dear friends.” Linde Freya Tangelder of Brussels-based studio Destroyers/Builders concurs: “My residency in Turin was unforgettable. It was an experience that gave me extra strength and tools to better construe my ideas, an experience that continues to resonate in my practice.”
This week, as IN Residence launches the call for participation for its 15th annual workshop under the theme Chromatic Alphabets, we asked Brondi and Rainò to share, in their own words, a few of their favorite projects from the IN Residence world to date. We also reached out to a selection of IN Residence alumni for their take on what makes this program so very special—an experience many say stays with them long after they’ve returned home.
IN Their Own Words: 5 Favorite IN Residence Moments
1. RESIDENCY #1: ENCODED SYMBOLS
Debut Residency in Turin, 2019 / Books by Nero Editions, 2020 / Exhibitions at Carwan Gallery, Athens, 2021
“From the tenth year of IN Residence… our workshops became programmatically nomadic, organized in different cities and contexts, while in Turin—the birthplace of our project—we’ve recently launched a new series of design residencies.
The first residency’s protagonists were Italian designer Roberto Sironi and Polish designer Marcin Rusak. Working with the theme Encoded Symbols, the two developed extraordinary projects, both produced and shown by Carwan Gallery in Athens. The program was complemented by two monographs, of which we are the authors, one for each of the two designers involved in the program, published by Nero. The results were amazing.
We are now developing the second residency, which explores the theme ‘Rooted Flows’ and involves Dutch designer Linde Freya Tangelder of Destroyers/Builders and Greek designer Kostas Lambridis. We can reveal in advance that the works taking form are exceptional.”
2. TALISMAN: CONTEMPORARY SYMBOLIC OBJECTS
Exhibition and Book, Milan, 2017
“For this project, we asked 46 young designers on the international scene—all previously involved with IN Residence—to create new, innovative talismans for the occasion, symbolic artifacts of extraordinary evocative power. The book, through images and in-depth critical writings, presents the content of the group show of the same title held in the marvelous setting of Palazzo Clerici during Milano Design Week 2017.”
3. WORKSHOP #7: TODAY WAS TOMORROW
“Our seventh workshop series took place in a very special setting. By invitation of Hans Ulrich Obrist, curator of the Swiss pavilion during the 14th Venice Architecture Biennale, IN Residence took part in the prestigious ‘Swiss Summer School.’ This was an exceptional opportunity for interaction between our approach and those of some of the most authoritative institutional voices from the world of higher education.
Antonio Aricò, Atelier NL, Daphna Laurens, Itay Ohaly, Brynjar Sigurðarson, and Studio Swine were invited as designer-tutors. The theme, ‘Today Was Tomorrow,’ created an opportunity for dialogue among the participants, with the objective of formulating reflections on the potential of objects, with their possible readiness to trigger—and enact—a transformation that happens today for the benefit of tomorrow.”
4. WORKSHOP #14: TRUTH TELLERS
“In light of the pandemic, ‘Truth Tellers’ experimented with an entirely digital method of development. The online experience made it possible to test a new formula for interaction among participants, and to define new paths of collaboration between IN Residence and the MAAT — Museum of Art, Architecture and Technology in Lisbon. The results were decidedly stimulating.
The idea of assigning MAAT—a renowned cultural institution committed to promoting critical discourse around creative practice—the role of a reference point and ideal connection between all the participants was very effective...The workshop featured two young, talented design studios in the role of designer-tutors: Thomas Ballouhey and Soft Baroque.
For us it was—truly, truly, truly—a unique, vibrant, emotionally engaging experience; one in which the human factor, in spite of the limitations caused by remote connection, proved to be substantial and decisive.”
5. ANOTHER TERRA: HOME AWAY FROM HOME
Exhibition in Milan, Basel, Venice, and Kortrijk, 2012
“This special group exhibition presented a series of original works by designers who took part in IN Residence. The show’s theme provided an opportunity to think specifically about the way human beings are related to the objects around them, probing into a radically different environmental context from that of our everyday experience.
The installation displayed the works through a sequence of capsules, which, in keeping with the basic concept, represent the vectors through which objects are packed and sent off to another planet.
Following the success of the event during Milan during Design Week 2012, the exhibition was also set up in Basel, Kortrijk, and Venice, among official events connected to the Architecture Biennale of the same year. The exhibition featured works by: Tomás Alonso, BCXSY, Pieke Bergmans, Julien Carretero, Maarten De Ceulaer, Formafantasma, Glithero, Pepe Heykoop, Lanzavecchia+Wai, Tomáš Gabzdil Libertiny, Philippe Malouin, Jo Meesters, Minale-Maeda, Mischer’Traxler, Liliana Ovalle, Raw-Edges, Studio Besau-Marguerre, and Anke Weiss.”
IN Appreciation / IN Residence Alumni Share Their Experiences:
“Participating in IN Residence is like being in a top level university—but with a contemporary, fresh attitude. The magic comes from the quality of the process itself. There is a deep focus on research and experimentation that comes through in both the content of the programs and the final results.” —Antonio Aricò, Workshop #7, Today Was Tomorrow
“What makes IN Residence a very special experience is the intimate setting of Turin and the curators' engagement. I’ve been offered the most precious time, one full of inspiration, thanks to an exchange of thoughts and exposure to the most incredible collections, all of which has influenced how I see my work. The passion and expertise Marco and Barbara share for design, architecture, and anthropology is admirable. They let you into their own ‘world of Turin’ and give you a rich platform upon which to build.” —Marcin Rusak, Residency #1, Encoded Symbols
“The fact that you are put into a group with strangers and a very open brief but limited time creates a moment of confusion, urgency, but most of all absolute creativity! It’s a matter of learning how to work together, learning about each other and each other's different points of view and characters and creating a coherent project by the end of the 3 days. I loved this aspect. There are no materials, no machinery, it's all improvised. Very, very different from my normal way of working—and very refreshing.” —Sabine Marcelis, Workshop #9, Visible Invisible, 2015
“Barbara and Marco's open and creative approach, backed by their endless dedication and enthusiasm, establishes a continuous, dynamic, and inspiring bond between the program's team, designers and participants, making it a true pleasure and unique experience for anyone involved.” —Boaz Cohen and Sayaka Yamamoto, BCXSY, Workshop #4, Sense Memory, 2011
“IN Residence offers an amazing opportunity to meet and spend time with other designers in a unique setting. And Marco and Barbara have such a great eye for emerging talent. Over the years, they've consistently invited exciting new designers who frequently go on to be a bit of a who's who in collectable design. Participating in IN Residence is a definite stamp of approval.” —Nick Ross, Workshop #10, Imaginative Rituals, 2016
“Part of what makes IN Residence so special is that the program gathers input not only from the IN Residence team but also from all the participating designers. I remember having great conversations there that have stayed with me to this day—and the food was also great! Plus Marco and Barbara are super friendly and knowledgeable, and they have a wonderfully strong design vision.” —Marjan Van Aubel, Workshop #8, Resonance Tuning, 2014
“What makes IN Residence different from other programs is not just the wonderful workshops. It’s also the dinners we all had together, which fostered the feeling of being part of a design family. What Barbara and Marco have created with IN Residence is something unique and very enriching for the young design community.” —Philipp Weber, Workshop #8, Resonance Tuning, 2014 ◆
To learn more about IN Residence, including its upcoming workshop, Chromatic Alphabet —which will be held in Prato, Italy at the prestigious Centro Pecci per l’arte contemporanea and led by Brondi and Rainò in collaboration with designer-tutors Audrey Large and Jorge Penadés—visit inresidence-design.com