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Kitchen in The Imperfect Home by Inga Sempé at Triennale Milano

Inga Sempé celebrates the joyful mess of everyday life in The Imperfect Home

A full-size home interior installed inside the Triennale Milano showcases furniture and homeware by French designer Inga Sempé alongside dirty dishes, hanging laundry and personal trinkets.

The Imperfect Home is a retrospective exhibition showcasing over 100 objects developed by Sempé since she founded her Paris-based studio back in 2001.

Living room by Inga Sempé at Triennale Milano
The Imperfect Home features over 100 objects designed by Inga Sempé

Designed with interiors office Studio A/C, the installation is a 1:1 scale home with seven fully furnished rooms and spaces. But, as the title suggests, this is no show home.

According to curator Marco Sammicheli, the aim was to create the sense that the house was "lived in right up until moments before the exhibition opened".

Living room in The Imperfect Home by Inga Sempé at Triennale Milano
The pleated PO/202 floor lamp, launched in 2002, features in the living room

As a result, spaces are filled with traces of domestic life. Bedsheets are crumpled, candles are half-burned. There is even a clump of hair left on the bathroom sink.

"I wanted to build a house because I don't like exhibitions where objects and furniture are put on high bases, like those for sculpture, demanding to be looked at as priceless masterpieces," Sempé told the Triennale Milano magazine.

"I find that quite boring, and I don't need to be looked at as if I were an artist; being an industrial designer is enough for me," she said.

Bedroom by Inga Sempé at Triennale Milano
The Pinorama pinboard, launched by Hay, showcases personal objects

The living room of the Imperfect Home features one of Sempé's earliest designs, the pleated fabric PO/202 floor lamp with Cappellini, alongside newer works like the Colorado rug launched by Nanimarquina earlier this year.

The kitchen features the Column cabinet fronts for Reform, along with smaller objects like the Collo Alto cutlery from Alessi, the characterful Filigraani plates from Iittala and the playful Guichet clock from Moustache.

Other details designed by Sempé include tiles, door handles, lighting, mirrors and bathroom fittings – her outdoor shower for Tectona is one of the standout additions.

Bathroom in The Imperfect Home by Inga Sempé at Triennale Milano
Toothbrushes and a clump of hair give a lived-in feel to the bathroom

The exhibition reveals the extensive scope of the designer's output over the past 23 years. There are only a few pieces not designed by Sempé, most notably a 1950s toilet by Gio Ponti and a 1970s basin by Achille Castiglioni.

Other focal points include pieces by artists Mette Ivers and Saul Steinberg.

Personal objects are dotted throughout to give a sense of the house's owner. For instance, the Pinorama pinboard from Hay displays jars of coins, postcards, and small models of a bird and robot.

Another example is the study, where a map, ink and rolls of tapes are scattered over the desk.

Bathroom by Inga Sempé at Triennale Milano
Sempé's outdoor shower for Tectona also features in this room

"I want it to look lively, as if the owner has just left to go and buy some bread, and has had a stroke or got hit by a car," said Sempé.

"The visitors should be like the police visiting the house to find his ID. So there should be crumbs, a couple of remote controls on the sofa, some invoices on the desk, leftovers in the fridge. But the owner does not necessarily need to be dead. He might just have a broken ankle. So we might find some socks."

The Imperfect Home is on show at Triennale Milano from 15 April to 15 September 2024. See Dezeen Events Guide for more architecture and design events around the world.