Super-curator and Design Awards judge Paola Antonelli on Milanese style

Paola Antonelli at the Museum of Modern Art in New York
Paola Antonelli at the Architecture and Design Study Centre at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York.
(Image credit: Molly Matalon)

In her role as Senior Curator of the Department of Architecture and Design at the Museum of Modern Art, Paola Antonelli has become known for her highly analytical, anthropologic approach. As a judge for this year’s Wallpaper* Design Awards, however, Antonelli tapped into the other side of her curatorial tool kit and assessed her votes in a more emotional light.

Of her choice of Milan as ‘Best City’, the Italian-born Antonelli says, ‘Milanese do not only love design, but truly live by it. They use it, they talk about it, they critique it, they overdo it. Design is a pillar of popular culture, it is normal. Design Week in April is a citywide celebration; everyone is interested and participates in it.’

Putting the city’s design chops aside however, Antonelli was quick to debunk the preconception that the Milanese are perennially elegant. ‘Milanese are normally very restrained and a bit cold – and that is understood as good taste. But they can be over the top! And thankfully, they can also display a modicum of bad taste.’

An example of Antonelli’s good taste though, is her other choice of this year’s Best Private House – Porky Hefer’s Nest House in Namibia. ‘If I am giving a Wallpaper* award, I want to give it to a dream house, and this looks like 007 (Sean Connery/John Lautner/Diamonds are Forever era) meets Black Panther.’§

View the Wallpaper* Design Awards 2019 here

As originally featured in the February 2019 issue of Wallpaper* (W*239)

Pei-Ru Keh is a former US Editor at Wallpaper*. Born and raised in Singapore, she has been a New Yorker since 2013. Pei-Ru held various titles at Wallpaper* between 2007 and 2023. She reports on design, tech, art, architecture, fashion, beauty and lifestyle happenings in the United States, both in print and digitally. Pei-Ru took a key role in championing diversity and representation within Wallpaper's content pillars, actively seeking out stories that reflect a wide range of perspectives. She lives in Brooklyn with her husband and two children, and is currently learning how to drive.