Text by Salvatore Peluso (DOPO? space)

«It is easier to imagine the end of the world than the end of the single-family house».
A note penned by yours truly in black ink frames one of the first chapters of After Work: A History of the Home and the Fight for Free Tim (Verso Books, 2023).

Written by theorists and activists Helen Hester and Nick Srnicek – and recently translated into Italian by TLON – the essay traces a feminist and community path to rethink our living habits, our expectations and our cities. After Work challenges our way of living by posing questions that are as simple as they are unsettling. Such as: what’s the point with every family owning a washing machine? Are we seriously incapable of considering sharing something, even one square meter or an object in our home?

This text was an important reference in the creation of Runaways, a project conceived by the collective of people who founded and manages DOPO? space, and which during the Salone del Mobile will transform the cultural center into a large collective residence. This is because Milan Design Week is not only a globally relevant showcase, but also an agent that alters the biorhythm of the entire city, upending the daily lives of its inhabitants. During this period, short-term rental prices skyrocket, making accommodations unaffordable for students and young designers who want to follow the design event.

Among the Milanese, instead, more and more people decide to go sleep with friends and relatives so that they can rent out their dwelling. It is a curious phenomenon: for banally economic reasons, many are willing to return to a shared or collective life for a short period of time. A graph showing “when adverts are published for the first time in Milan” makes the extent of the phenomenon clear: year after year, increasingly high and disturbing peaks are recorded in April.

(…) During Milan Design Week, there is hardly ever space for critical discussions on urgent issues such as the real estate crisis we are experiencing, because everyone is busy promoting their projects, products, brands… For us, design is not just drawing and the production of consumer objects, but a complex reflection on living. So we would like to take advantage of the exceptional visibility and turnout of people generated by the event to address these problems. Runaways is not only a criticism of the phenomenon of short-term rental – which is in the hands of a few commercial operators – but also an experiment in community living, in which the people we host make their creativity and skills available to form a temporary community.

What’s more, having found an ally in BASE (once the project was underway) was fundamental for us, because it meant going beyond the perspective of an individual project (even if done by a collective) and putting ourselves at the service of a common urgency, which is felt by an ever-increasing number of people – of our generation and beyond. BASE and DOPO? will therefore propose an exchange of practices and moments of shared discussion on the topic of precarious living.


So... is this getting serious?

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