Michelangelo Foundation Homo Faber Event
The Michelangelo Foundation Presents
The Michelangelo Foundation Presents
Centuries of Shape
Centuries of Shape Imagined by: Triennale Design Museum
Witness the evolution of design
The story of design and craftsmanship told through a selection of wonderful vases

Discover some fifty iconic vases representing the evolution of design and its impact on craftsmanship over more than a century. Simple and functional, the vase is an object that has been made and used in many different cultures for millennia. As a result, it’s like an archaeological find, revealing the design styles, materials, techniques and artistic experimentation of the time in which it was made. This carefully curated selection of vases tells the story of European design and craftsmanship during the 20th and 21st centuries, showing how designers and artisans have always influenced each other to experiment, rethink and evolve.

Discover the catalogue

Icons of design and craftsmanship

Selected by the Triennale Design Museum team, these iconic European vases from the early 20th century to the present day represent the work of some of the most influential names in design and craftsmanship. Together, they take you on a diverse journey from the traditional to the contemporary, from glassmaking to 3D printing, from Art Nouveau through Cubism and Postmodernism to contemporary design. Discover how the dialogue between designers and artisans over the centuries has shaped European craftsmanship then and now.

Vaso Merletto (1992) Ugo La Pietra

For this alabaster vase designer La Pietra harnessed the technical skill and experience of artisans at the Cooperativia Artieri Alabastro, founded in 1895 in Volterra, a town renowned for its alabaster work.

Ugo La Pietra Archive
Rypäleterttu (1970s) Kaj Franck

A beautiful example of the work of Kaj Franck, a legend of Finnish design who collaborated with the Nuutajärvi glassworks and helped make its name around the world.

Galerie Bruno Bischofberger
Torno Subito series (1998) Pierre Charpin

This multi-coloured glass vase is typical of French designer Charpin’s experimental practice and his work with the Memphis group early in his career, during the 1980s.

Centre international de recherche sur le verre et les arts plastiques (Cirva)
Patchwork (2013) Nendo

This clear artistic hand blown glass vase showcases the fine glass cutting techniques of contemporary Czech glassworks Lasvit, which combines the latest technologies with creative craftsmanship.

Architonic AG
Frozen in Time (2010) Studio Wieki Somers

This opaque glass vase with resin and UV topcoat was created by Studio Wieki Somers to evoke the after-effect of freezing rain, inspired by the extreme weather that hit the Netherlands in 1987.

Galerie Kreo
Step inside the magnificent Longhena library

These vases will be simply displayed on the original oak tables of the 17th century Biblioteca del Longhena at the Fondazione Giorgio Cini, an exceptionally beautiful library and the perfect backdrop for this exhibit. Enter this stunning space and marvel at its wooden statuettes and original Franz Pauc carved bookcases, themselves wonderful examples of fine craftsmanship.

A journey through two centuries

Encounter the designers whose work had huge influence on craftsmanship in the 20th century and those who continue to make waves in the 21st. Opening up a dialogue with the master craftsmen and women of their time, these designers have approached materials in new ways and inspired artisans to push the boundaries of what’s possible.

From Italian flair to Japanese innovation Ugo La Pietra

A trained architect, Ugo La Pietra is also an artist, designer, filmmaker, musician and teacher who has been hugely influential across art and design since the 1960s. His work is experimental and innovative, yet focuses on maintaining human skills and long-held artisanal techniques.


Nendo is a contemporary design studio founded in Tokyo by architect and product designer Oki Sato. Named after the Japanese word for modelling clay, the studio designs simple, minimalist yet unexpected objects that break with convention.


Vitor Agostinho / Archivio Ugo La Pietra / BD Barcelona Design/ Centre international de recherche sur le verre et les arts plastiques – CIRVA / Collection Musée Ariana, Ville de Genève / Danam Antiques, Copenhagen / Dilmos, Milano / Formafantasma / Galerie Bruno Bischofberger AG / Galerie-Musée Baccarat / Galleri Format Oslo / Vidar Koksvik / Tomas Libertiny / Galleria Giovanni Scacchi / Galleria Luisa delle Piane / Galleria Nilufar, Milano / Holstebro Kunstmuseum / Lladró / MACBA - Museu d'Art Contemporani de Barcelona / MAK-Austrian Museum of Applied Arts / Contemporary Art, Vienna / Marcel Wanders / Mischer'Traxler Studios / MOOOI BV / Musées d’art et d'histoire, Genève / Museu da Cerâmica - C.M. Caldas da Rainha / Museum Kunstpalast, Düsseldorf / Musée Lalique / Nordlings Antik / Officine Saffi / Royal Museums of Art and History, Brussels / Alessio Sarri / Sèvres Cité de la Céramique / Sparkassenstiftung Schleswig-Holstein / Studio Hanna Krüger / Studio Jeroen Wand / Studio Sebastiaan Straatsma / Studio Wieki Somers / Caterina Tognon / Paolo Ulian / Tamsin Van Essen / Venini / Marcel Wanders

Imagined by: Triennale Design Museum Team

Founded in 1923, La Triennale di Milano is an international institution which brings together different languages of contemporary culture and creativity: architecture, design, fashion, visual arts, new media, photography, performance, theatre, music. Housed in the Palazzo dell’Arte, it hosts exhibitions, conferences and shows, presenting the work of major Italian and international architects, designers and artists, as well as research into the most relevant contemporary artists. With strong industry links, La Triennale has become an important point of reference for Italian creativity.