Desacralized by Galerie Philia | Milan Design week 2023

In the coming stories I hope to show you some of my favorites from Milan Design week 2023. I was most looking forward to was the exhibition by Galerie Philia. Last year it was one of my favourites and also this year you can find it in my top five.

‘Desacralized’ by Galerie Philia was an offsite exhibition featuring over 20 established and emerging international designers, each exploring the concept of desacralisation. Staged in San Vittore e 40 Martiri, a deconsecrated church located in the centre of Milan. From what I heard it had been empty for the last twenty years with Desacralized being the first major exhibition to take place in this space. I visited the opening party, a real fragrance and sound experience and the different works beautifully placed in the empty church.

As the description of the Galerie explaining Desacralized in the best possible way, I pasted it below for you to fully understand the idea behind the exhibition. Previous exhibitions I documented can be seen here


It is this long and rich history and, most notably, the transformation of the church into a secular building that has inspired Galerie Philia to conceive this exhibition. Each designer was invited to give their personal interpretation of the notion of desacralization and take inspiration from objects which formerly had religious associations and have now become solely functional, serving our everyday life. The only imperative the group collectively agreed on was that the works created should be entirely white.

At the centre of the exhibition is a monumental chandelier by Italian design duo Morghen Studio. Titled Cascades of Light, this sculptural installation transcends and sublimes the iconic significance of the historic chandelier, offering visitors a transformative experience of light. Studiopepe has created an architectural marble side table inspired by an ancient Italian baptistery and whose octagonal shape alludes to the number 8, the symbol of rebirth in many religions and myths. Pietro Franceschini shows a curvature coffee table, playing with the concept of materiality and transformation, whilst Kar Studio showcases a chair inspired by China’s oldest script from the Shang Dynasty. In her abstract light sculptures, Elsa Foulon explores the use of seashells, a motif omnipresent in the iconography of Christianity and the history of art.

Key international designers will also unveil ‘desacralized’ creations: Rick Owens brings a never-before seen chair; Arno Declercq shows a large scale uniquely formed dining table, using white for the first time in his work; Henry Wilson exhibits an ambient table lamp; Pierre de Valck showcases a fountain – a construction which historically symbolises change and life. Andrés Monnier shows one of his eye-catching firepits made of rock.

This year’s exhibition in Milan concludes the third chapter in the gallery’s exhibition trilogy exploring the sacred. The first iteration in 2021, entitled Rick Owens in dialogue with Italian emerging designers, used a post apocalyptic aesthetic to delve into the mystical and the dialogue between the ancient and contemporary ages. The second iteration in 2022 unveiled Temenos, Studiopepe’s first collection of collectible design and explored the notion of sacredness in its anthropological and historical complexity.

Ygael Attali, Director of Galerie Philia and curator of the exhibition says: ‘Objects bear witness to the past – they carry memories and their function is defined by the era in which they were created. Sacred objects have all these qualities but they also transcend their physicality to achieve a spiritual and symbolic value. Desacralized is the third and last of our Milan exhibitions exploring the theme of sacredness and seeks to question the notion of desacralisation, in both its emotional and spiritual manifestations.’ text by Galerie Philia 

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