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Museum's transformed barrels highlight social change
by Megan Thornton
September 11, 2013 11:32 AM | 3716 views | 0 0 comments | 38 38 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Special Photo / A digital rendering of “Barrique: Wine, Design and Social Change” shows how the exhibit will look when it premieres at the Museum of Design Atlanta this Saturday.
Special Photo / A digital rendering of “Barrique: Wine, Design and Social Change” shows how the exhibit will look when it premieres at the Museum of Design Atlanta this Saturday.

Named for the Italian word for “wine barrel,” the latest exhibit at the Museum of Design Atlanta in Midtown is a demonstration of how a simple wooden cask can transform the lives of struggling young men and women.

Barrique: Wine, Design and Social Change spotlights a wine barrel recycling project in San Patrignano, Italy, that helps 1,300 residents in the city’s treatment center learn wine making, viticulture, woodworking and other professional skills as part of their rehabilitation and recovery.

The French oak barrels the treatment center uses to age more than 450,000 liters of wine each year can only be used for three years. To make use of the discarded barrels, 30 high-profile designers and architects including Missoni Creative Director Angela Missoni and industrial designer Karim Rashid were asked to design a one-of-a-kind piece of furniture from the reclaimed wood.

From lamps and tables to rocking horses and cradles, the San Patrignano residents constructed the furniture based on the designs. Following a nationwide tour, the pieces will be auctioned off to raise funds for the program.

Laura Flusche, the museum’s executive director, said installation of the exhibit begins this week.

“We thought it was a project really worth spotlighting because it shows the way that design brings social change, both on an individual basis and to a whole community,” she said. “At MODA, our mission is to spotlight design at the intersection of creativity and functionality. I think ‘Barrique’ is a fantastic example of that in that it is creative project used to help rehabilitate people with problems like drug addiction and social exclusion.”

The exhibition is part of the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ Year of Italian Culture. Max Salmi, exhibition manager for Barrique, said he is pleased to have assisted in bringing a slice of his native Italian culture to Atlanta.

“I have lost a few friends to drugs a long time ago, and unfortunately they did not have the strength to join this great organization,” Salmi said. “I spent a lot of time with the guys at the Falegnameria (wood-working shop) of San Patrignano and I am amazed at the great deal of emotion and experience they have developed through their path of rehabilitation.”

Angela Della Costanza Turner, honorary consul general of Italy, said in a statement the partnership is an opportunity to build a stronger cultural relationship with the U.S.

“Italy has a wealth of cultural resources to offer and seeks to become a primary cultural ally with the United States and to maintain ongoing cultural exchange,” said Turner, who will also serve as honorary host of the museum’s Fiesta Italiana party Oct. 5. Tickets are $40 for museum members and $50 for non-members.

During the facility’s member preview, guests will get a sneak peek of the exhibition, learn about the San Patrignano center and enjoy coffee, prosecco and pastries.

At the opening party later that evening, guests will be treated to two performances by members of the Atlanta Opera and enjoy snacks and wines courtesy of Georgia Crown.

If you go:

What: Barrique: Wine, Design and Social Change

When: MODA member preview Saturday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. (RSVP by Thursday to cwhitney@museumofdesign. org); opening party from 7 to 10 p.m.; exhibit runs Sunday through Oct. 15

Where: Museum of Design Atlanta, 1315 Peachtree St., Midtown

Cost: Free for members, $10 for non-members.To sign up, visit


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