Paola Navone and The Slowdown Present: “Take It or Leave It”

Exhibition to feature hundreds of objects collected by the renowned Milanese architect and designer that will be given away for free during Milan Design Week 2023

March 8, 2023, NEW YORK — Italian architect and designer Paola Navone will stage an exciting new exhibition for the 2023 edition of Milan Design Week in collaboration with the New York–based media company The Slowdown. Entitled Take It or Leave It, the installation will feature an eclectic assortment of items collected or designed over the years by Navone, who is known for her adventurous attitude, roving eye, and whimsical interiors and furniture designs. Hundreds of these pieces will then be given away through a free, by-reservation lottery between April 17–21.

Curated by Daniel Rozensztroch, former artistic director of the Paris concept store Merci, the objects in the exhibition will include everything from antique metal spoons collected in India, to rare Alessi prototypes designed by Navone, to fine German porcelain.

All items in the exhibition will be offered to the public via a special lottery organized by The Slowdown. The lottery will be entered through a limited number of timed reservations that will become available at in late March. The drawings will take place on April 17, 20, and 21. At all other times, the exhibition will be open for the public to view.

During the drawing times, reservation holders will enter the space, where they will have a number pulled. Next, they will be chaperoned into the exhibition room to find the corresponding numbered object arranged within the exhibition. Once the object is identified, they will then be faced with a choice: Do they take it or leave it? To stay true to the exhibition’s name, there will only be one number drawn per person, with no re-draws allowed.

Everyone who takes part in Take It or Leave It will be photographed with the object they take (or empty-handed if they decide to leave the object behind) and will be briefly interviewed by The Slowdown about why they took or left the object. A selection of these images and stories will later be published on the website and on the Instagram.

Says Navone: “So why do I want to do this? To be able to continue this crazy activity of acquiring things. At a certain point you are somehow surrounded by thousands of elements, thousands of objects, thousands of colors, thousands of samples... I wanted to be free to bring in new things and to make more space to have them!”

“When Paola approached me with the radical idea to create an exhibition to give away objects from her collection, there was absolutely no way I could say no,” says Spencer Bailey, editor-in-chief of The Slowdown. “I’ve always been in awe of her rare ability to source things from around the world and create something magical when they’re all brought together.”

More than just a provocative exercise, Take It or Leave It is an effort in upcycling and reuse, underpinned by a projective, climate-forward manifesto. The exhibition boldly considers: Rather than relying on virgin materials and energy-intensive processes, why not appreciate and honor the things we already have, and give them a new life?

Take It or Leave It also marks the launch of The Slowdown’s new digital membership, which includes exclusive access to a slate of newsletters and accompanying paywalled stories. Those who sign up for a membership are guaranteed a lottery drawing, with or without a reservation. At the Take It or Leave It coffee bar, in partnership with Italian coffee company illycaffé, visitors will be able to enjoy an Italian espresso while signing up for The Slowdown’s free weekly Flagship newsletter.

This is the second major collaboration between Navone and Bailey. Previously, they worked together on the book Tham ma da: The Adventurous Interiors of Paola Navone, written and edited by Bailey and published by Pointed Leaf Press in 2016.

Take It or Leave It
Press Preview: Mon., April 17, 12-1 p.m.

Reservation-Only Lottery Drawings: Mon., April 17, 4-8 p.m.; Tues., April 20, 3-7 p.m.; and Fri., April 21, 3-7 p.m.

Public Openings: Tues., April 18, 11 a.m.-7 p.m.; Wed., April 19, 11-7 p.m.; Thurs., April 20, 11 a.m.-3 p.m.; Fri., April 21, 11 a.m.-3 p.m.

OTTO Studio, Via Tortona, 31, 20144, Milano, Italy

Born in Turin, Italy, Paola Navone graduated from the ​​Polytechnic University of Turin with a degree in architecture in 1973, and from the late 1970s to the ’80s was a part of the Alchimia and Memphis groups alongside Alessandro Mendini, Ettore Sottsass, and Andrea Branzi. An architect, designer, art director, and interior designer, she has a deep interest in exploring the dualities between European industrial manufacturing and savoir faire and Asian craft and street culture. Founder of the Milanese design studio OTTO, she has collaborated with companies such as Alessi, Baxter, Bisazza, Cappellini, Driade, Exteta, Gervasoni, and Poliform. Her interior projects include the 25Hours Hotel in Florence, the COMO Castello Del Nero hotel in Tuscany, and the COMO Point Yamu hotel in Phuket, Thailand. She won the International Designer Award in Osaka in 1983 and was awarded Designer of the Year by the German magazine Architektur & Wohnen in 2000. Her other honors include several Elle Deco International Design Awards, a Red Dot Design Award, and the Good Design Award for product design. In 2014, she was inducted into Interior Design magazine’s Design Hall of Fame.

Launched in 2019, The Slowdown is a New York–based media company whose mission is to be an indispensable cultural guide to the zeitgeist. Across the spectrum—architecture, art, climate, design, fashion, food, technology, and beyond—The Slowdown helps give shape to the abundance of information and noise all around us. Through its slate of subscription newsletters and podcasts, The Slowdown brings together leading-edge perspectives from various disciplines to capture an emerging worldview.

Spencer Bailey is the co-founder and editor-in-chief of The Slowdown and host of the Time Sensitive podcast. He is also the editor-at-large of book publisher Phaidon. A writer, editor, and journalist, he has written at length about architecture, art, culture, design, and technology, and contributed to publications such as Town & Country, The New York Times Magazine, Bloomberg Businessweek, and Fortune. From 2013 to 2018, Bailey was editor-in-chief of Surface magazine. His latest book, Alchemy: The Material World of David Adjaye, comes out from Phaidon in July 2023.

Daniel Rozensztroch is a design consultant, curator, and collector. The former artistic director of the Paris concept store Merci, he has also previously worked as creative director of the French interiors magazine Marie Claire Maison. He has written several books about design and collectibles, from cultural styles to ordinary objects, including A Life of Things (2018), Spoon (2017), and Brush (2005).

illycaffè is an Italian family-owned company, founded in Trieste in 1933. Its mission has always been to offer the best coffee to the world. illycaffè produces a unique 100% Arabica blend, combining 9 of the best varieties in the world, selected by illycaffè: Every day 8 million cups of illy coffee are served in over 140 countries around the globe. Since 2016, with the “Ernesto Illy International Coffee Award,” the company has celebrated coffee growers all over the world that, according to illy, have produced the best sustainable coffee. Since 2013, the company has been in the list of the World’s Most Ethical Companies. In 2021, illycaffè was the first Italian company in the coffee sector to obtain the international certification as B Corp as a result of its commitment to comply with the highest standards of social and environmental performance.

Aisha Diomandé | Tomorrow PR