A trip through Trajan’s Market has long been a favorite stop of mine. The complex is thought to be either the former home of Emperor Trajan’s administrative offices, or, and I quite prefer this explanation, to be the world’s first shopping mall built specifically for that purpose. Not that I particularly love malls or anything, but I do kinda love imagining a Nordstrom tucked into those stone arcades. However, for the next week and a half, in addition to harboring the Museo dei Fori Imperiali (and my dreams of ancient department stores), the Market is playing home to MEET Design – a 20th Century design retrospective, and a pretty innovative one at that.
The exhibit, with its focus on Italian household designers in the last century, is laid out by designer, or even by style, but by typology. Armchairs line the entrance and upper balcony, beckoning you to recline amidst the antiquity, until you encounter those annoying little “Please Do Not Sit” signs. For some reason, these signs always seem to be in English. Are Anglophones just more likely to plop down into an easy chair in the middle of Trajan’s Market? Probably. The individual rooms, normally reserved for mini models of the imperial forums, or bits of ancient columns, now share their space with vaguely robotic looking lamps, a self-reflective collection of mirrors, and a surprisingly interesting collection of flatware.
What: MEET Design at Trajan’s Market – a retrospective of 60 years of Italian design
Where: Trajan’s Market, entrance at Via Quattro Novembre 94
When: Runs until October 13th
How much: Tickets are 8.50, but of course include access to all the standard features of the Markets and Museum of the Imperial Forums