25.09.2020 - 11.03.2021

Since 20 April 2018, Museo Novecento has been periodically hosting Paradigma – the Architect’s Table, a series of meetings held in the right wing of the covered loggia on the ground floor of the museum, in which celebrated architects, collectives and architectural firms active on the contemporary scene take centre stage.

An architect’s tool par excellence, the drafting table represents what the easel is for the painter or the score for a musician – it is a support for creation. The arrangement of the table embodies the mental organization of the person working at it and, amid a pile of papers, diary and pen-holder, objects associated with personal relationships, ideas and habits carve out their own space; little madeleines that open up the memory to the world of design and project planning.

From time to time, architectural figures alternate, to reveal trade secrets to the public, starting with a glance born at the drafting table. The groundbreaking reflections that emerge provide the opportunity to observe architects’ activities from a new, more intimate and personal perspective.

Thus architecture comes to the forefront in the Museo Novecento, a building that, looking onto Piazza Santa Maria Novella, takes on the role of bridging the gap between the artworks displayed inside and one of the greatest masterpieces of Renaissance architecture: the facade of the church designed by Leon Battista Alberti. It seemed fitting, therefore, to bring architecture into a building that benefits so much from it. Art and its “container”, architecture, thus initiate a harmonious dialogue.

Over these two years, thanks to the collaboration of the architects participating in this initiative, we have been able to appreciate how the creative process that leads to the development of design is always different and is triggered by ideas that are not necessarily related to the world of architecture. The world around us stimulates architects’ minds and its multiple connections contribute to the development of architectural ideas. Literature, art, poetry, cinema, theatre; all are essential aspects that merge into the creative flow that generates a project.

Through these months of exhibition display preparation, both physical and virtual, we have understood how important the notion of a chorus of voices sharing ideas is, and it is at the work table that these ideas evolve. No idea can take on strength unless it is reflected on, thought out, destroyed and reconstructed. Work based on intense and laborious thought that never leaves a designer, accompanying him/her at every moment of the day. Thought which is then transformed into graphic form, then into architecture. Sometimes years may even pass before this happens. The more intense the thinking is, the more enduring the result will be: a slow process that has to look forward – to pro-ject (from Latin “to throw forward”) indeed – and be able to anticipate evolutions in society.

During the most dramatic period of the health emergency that has devastated the whole planet and in which the lives of all of us have been suspended in an unreal sense of waiting, the Museo Novecento, along with Area, decided to create an extra opportunity for communicating art and culture. An initiative that took place online. Nationally- and internationally-famous architects were asked to create from home a video on the subject of the architect’s table and how their work has adapted to smart working. The contributions, shared weekly on the official pages of the Museo Novecento ( and Area ( ) have now been collected in an exhibition.
A necessary retrospective that aims to show not only what was done, but also what more can be done to share and convey culture. We have put together an encapsulation of all the material the architects shared with us and created a blank canvas – divided into squares – on which a timeline traces the evolution of this journey into the world of architecture. Thanks to the architects’ cooperation, the initiative will also continue over the next few months, in order to share as much as possible different, but complementary, ways of conceiving architecture and design.

We would like to thank Gianluca Peluffo, Benedetta Tagliabue, Mario Cucinella, Bureau Baubotanik, Adolfo Natalini, Pietro Carlo Pellegrini, Steven Holl, Alfonso Femia, Cherubino Gambardella, Sean Godsell, Manuel Aires Mateus, Luca Molinari, Vincenzo Latina, Alberto Campo Baeza, Snøhetta, Park Associati, Ipostudio Architetti and Piuarch for sharing their time, and above all their thoughts with us.

The Architect’s Table project is supported by Manifattura Tabacchi.