Martina Bragadin, Margherita Crespi
and Benedetta Pomini
Spazio META is a start-up based in Milan’s Bovisa district, which operates a circular economy approach in the realm of installation design and construction for the art, fashion and design sectors. Born out of a need to limit waste and offer an innovative and virtuous example of materials and installation reuse, Spazio META aims to counteract the over-production of waste to focus attention on the potential of existing resources.
We act as an intelligent filter before disposal, recovering the materials used in the creation of temporary spaces and installations such as salons, fashion shows, exhibitions and events in order to reinsert them into a new cycle of use and make them available to the creative community once more. Often used only for the duration of an event, these materials are usually disposed of as waste despite retaining their
technical specifications and in many cases showing no signs at all of wear.
Our goal is to promote a sustainable and alternative solution to the traditional production-consumption-disposal cycle, ensuring that the materials and installation designs we collect are effectively put back into a new use circuit. We select our materials based on specific parameters such as type and quality of material, quantities, dimensions, the condition they are found in and future possibilities for reuse, and then we do what we call an ‘enhancement intervention’.
O ur service is designed to embrace the most diverse needs and is aimed at a wide variety of customers and suppliers such as companies and fashion houses, theatres, museums, galleries and institutions, fairs and corporate events, designers, set designers, photographers, artists, students, schools and individuals. One of our main goals is to create a virtuous sustainability exchange and sharing circuit both at the
national and international level.
To allow for greater efficiency, we offer assistance from the earliest stages of pre-production with the aim of evaluating the type and quantities of reusable wares in advance with our suppliers. Our selection is aimed at ensuring a wide variety of materials and maintaining a constant flow both in and out. We do not collect
materials that show obvious signs of wear, as well as items that can’t be considered reusable goods (we don’t do disposal on behalf of third parties).
Whether purchased by the kilo or by the piece (this depends on their characteristics), our materials are all sold at highly accessible prices that take into account their origin and technical specifications. The materials Spazio META recovers are wood, paper, fabric, leather, glass, metal, minerals, ceramics, plexiglass, plastic materials
such as PVC, foam rubber and polystyrene, building materials and other decorative elements.
Once brought to Spazio META, all goods are cleaned, divided by type, weighed, recorded on a piece of software that connected to our scales and finally put on display for public sale. Our enhancement work varies according to the pieces’ characteristics and consists of the following:
• cleaning and removal of any damaged parts
• cutting and/or disassembly
• removal of mechanical elements such as nails, screws or staples
• removal of chemical residues such as glue, silicone, adhesive tape
• removal of logos or other identifying marks
Thanks to the software connected to our scales, we record the volumes and quantities of goods recovered in urban space and keep track of the incoming and outgoing flow of material, from the supplier to the end user. The result is a report containing detailed information about the quantities of material recovered and their reintegration rates - a snapshot of the actual reuse of resources divided by type, origin and destination - because we believe in transparency and free access to
resources. Upon request, we offer an annual report to suppliers with the aim of monitoring the efficiency of the process and encouraging the circular use of resources. Spazio META’s recovery and collection service has been operational since January 2021, while the space itself was inaugurated in July 2021. Over this period of time we have seen our numbers grow significantly, reflecting the results achieved so far.
If in the first year of activity we were able to recover over 16 tonnes of material by reintegrating almost 40% of this amount, to date these figures have more than doubled, at least as regards recovery and the amount of materials arriving in our warehouse. As for reintegration percentages, we will have to wait until the end of the year to obtain precise data but we can say right now that the outflow has certainly
been more than satisfactory. In this regard, the ability to monitor and obtaina report with respect to incoming and outgoing flows also helps us to define targets for our customers, to monitor the average quantities of material purchased and to define the strands to be implemented over the next few months.
In 2021the materials we recovered amounted to 42,092.88 kgs; what we resold mounted to 16,131.2 kg, i.e. 38.32% of what was brought in. Specifically we have recovered the following quantities of different materials:
wood> 16,395.5 kg
metal> 1,792.05 kg
fabric> 1,246.25 kg
plastics> 1,063.9 kg
minerals> 647.7 kg
carpet> 2,404.85 kg
glass> 136.4 kg
other> 2,522.3 kg
In addition to our recovery and sale activities, Spazio META supports and encourages the most diverse forms of creativity, opening its space to exchange, sharing and design. In contrast to what happened in the first months after we opened, when not many people knew us yet, or when our service was gradually making its way into the creative fabric of the city, over the past few months we have seen large batches of materials come out of our warehouse for the first time to be used in new museum and institutional installations. At the same time, materials from fashion shows or window displays were used to create new installations and important projects at the Salone del Mobile, confirming the circularity of the project.
Among the projects carried out this year is “Characters”, an exhibition by Fosbury Architecture in Vienna’s Magazin space; “Stultifera”, an installation by Benni Bosetto at the Pinacoteca Nazionale in Bologna; the Viasaterna gallery booth at Miart; and Cinema Tacchini by Formafantasma at the Salone del Mobile.
We curate and host laboratories and workshops for adults and children in collaboration with artists and designers who make their skills and resources available. The aim is to raise awareness in the local community regarding the issue of reuse and sustainability and to invest in the city’s human capital at a capillary level. In addition
to hosting both secondary school and university students from both public and private backgrounds to talk about what we do and how our service operates, we have hosted or otherwise collaborated with design workshops through the supply
of materials. Among others, last year we held a two-day workshop at Polimoda in Florence dedicated to students of the Fashion Styling course and focused on the creation of more sustainable window displays.
Spazio META is made up of its three founding members, Martina Bragadin, Margherita Crespi and Benedetta Pomini. With diverse but at the same time also similar backgrounds and experience in the field of scenography, advertising and curating and producing exhibitions for galleries and institutions, we have chosen to come together to try and design an alternative horizon of possibilities. Designing
and implementing pop-up events and installations in the fields of art, fashion and design with a critical gaze, we believe Spazio META can be a container and receptacle for new synergies and opportunities.
Martina Bragadin graduated in Scenografia (set and installation design) from NABA in Milan and moved to Paris in 2012, where she worked as a set designer for ads and events. In this period she deepened the research aspect of her work to focus on reuse after observing the weaknesses of the sector closely and the way large quantities of materials are thrown away after a single use. In 2018 she returned to Milan with a project in mind: to set up an activity to counteract waste in the artistic and cultural sphere, recover materials and offer them to the local creative community, thus enhancing existing resources and reinserting them into a sustainable circuit. She co-founded Spazio META with Crespi and Pomini.
Margherita Crespi graduated in Scenografia (set and installation design) from NABA in Milan in 2011 and worked for several years as an art buyer and prop master in photography and video/TV exhibitions and productions, both in Italy and abroad.
Pomini worked for over 10 years in the field of research, curation and the production of exhibitions, performances and editorial projects with publishing houses, galleries and institutions including Fantom,
Mousse, Viasaterna, The View, Triennale Milano, Triennale Teatro and Fondazione Arnaldo Pomodoro.