BY MITCH RHYNER
BOLOGNA — Finally, I’m able to cross off one of the top items on my bucket list: to attend a design exhibition dedicated to water. Bologna Water Design, a showcase open from September 22nd to 27th, presented water-related installations by renowned architects, designers, and companies. Held at the former Hospital of the Innocents, a sizable building in Bologna’s city center, projects included the Volvo Ocean Race, sailboats designed by Italian university students, and Closer, a “functional, versatile, dynamic” showerhead. An International Trade Fair of Ceramics and several concerts also occurred in Bologna during the week, making it an exciting time for those involved in water design.
Several projects stood out at the exhibition. The Kiosk showcase, organized by the Architects’ Journal and Turkishceramics, challenged architects to design novel mechanisms to deliver drinking water in urban spaces. One device featured a multi-level delivery system for adults, bottle refills, children, and dogs. Yet another was comprised entirely of ceramic, in a nod to the original “kiosk” that originated in Turkey during the Ottoman era.
I found another installation, Images and Sounds, tucked in an old, dark room that likely served as a doctor’s office decades ago. The exhibit showed a video-projection of a growing plant. For the plant to begin growing, visitors are required to pour water into a bowl. The more water in the bowl, the faster the plant grows.
Lorenzo Piazzi, Vice President of Design Library, said of Bologna Water Design, “it’s a great chance to meet others involved in design and art and to share our work. Many trade fairs in northern Italy are more business focused. For Bologna Water Design, innovation and art are more important.”
There were many captivating installations at Bologna Water Design, and the exquisite building only added to the charm of the exhibition. Despite my skepticism of the program’s promise of a “journey of excellence encompassing surfaces and baths, outdoors, and food,” I found it to be exactly that.