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Reading Room, Milan. A white cube for magazines turns into a cultural hub

Reading Room, Milan

Dedicated to the research and selling of independent magazines, Reading Room, Milan on Via Mincio, was founded by Francesca Spiller. Her degree in Cultural Economics at Bocconi University led her to work for Fondazione Forma per la Fotografia – the project of the Contasto Agency that from 2005 to 2014 was the reference point for the Milan photographic culture — and then for CAMERA, Italian Centre for photography in Turin. She had the opportunity to work for this project with Lorenza Bravetta, former manager of the photographic agency MAGNUM, and the curator Francesco Zanot.

Reading Room, Milan, represents her vision. She managed to create a space where her love for photography and contemporary visual culture could be shown to the public: « the meaning of such a place is to browse, touch and discover new magazines thanks to the huge selection available in a unique space».

She confesses that Reading Room Milan was born during her train journeys from Milan to Turin, taking notes in notebooks. Her vision has now become a fluid space, selling only magazines as the only one product category available. It’s a forty-square-meter gallery, a white cube, situated in the popular district of Corvetto, in redevelopment and called SouPRA (South of Prada) by young creatives, with reference to a foundation located in the close districts. 

Reading Room, Milan: a consolidated editorial phenomenon

The magazines are on big shelf modules and on wooden supports in the center. «I opened in May 2018 after a year of preparation, the right time to design a project, prepare the space and choose the first selection of two hundred magazines». It is an indication of a consolidated editorial phenomenon.

«A Milanese space devoted to the spread, understanding and appreciation of magazines». A mission rather than a business. «I wanted a rational and comfortable  space, where the contents and the magazines, with their covers, could emerge. Each publication has the same dignity and visibility. The Reading Room Milan, however small, is flexible and easily adaptable to different needs, from selling to meetings, from small exhibitions to installations».

Reading Room, Milan is not a simple store, but a cultural activity, where the most appropriate keyword is fluidity. After almost two years of stop due to the pandemic, Francesca’s institutional events will be back in store this spring. Presentations and launches of new magazines, debates on visual arts, meetings with professionals from the publishing and creative industry. These are just a few examples what will be happening from the beginning of June at Reading Room. Any dynamic activity finalised to the promotion of culture and contemporary creativity will be forecast before the end of the year.

Magazines selection at Reading Room, Milan

The identity of the store come from Francesca personal selection. Her value to research in various field of themes: architecture, cinema, design, erotic, fashion, travels, photography, art, kitchen, graphics, drawing, literature, music, society and sports. They all share the same accurate study of contents and visual language. 

«The selection rewards the quality of the contents. The completeness of each editorial project rather than the originality at all costs. The selection is important for the equilibrium of the offer. Both for reasons of consuming. Wide selection can be disorienting, avoiding to have uninteresting magazines for the public».

Reading Room, a space dedicated to the research and selling of independent magazines in Milan
Reading Room, a space dedicated to the research and selling of independent magazines in Milan

The immortal fetish of the physical object

The last ten years have been characterized by a global crisis of the periodic publishing. The web and the social networks give access to a wide selection of news, thus leading to a drastic fall in sales. This sector seemed to disappear but recently has found new methods of fruition: «Running a bookshop today means creating a relationship with the producers of magazines, then welcoming and suggesting what can stimulate the customers’ attention by a range of activities and deepening. The Reading Room public loves quality content, deepening and reading. The several themes we offer- travels, architecture, design, music, literature, fashion, photography, art- give more possibilities to find something interesting also for non-experts, thus expanding the public».

Reading Room Milan is not the sole reality in Italy which spreads independent magazines. There are realities like Edicola Romana Non Ordinaria in Rome and Edicola 518 in Perugia. Reference points for the interests of the public. According to Francesca Spiller, one of the reasons for this trend can be found in the necessity to re-establish the importance of the paper on the web.

«With such a powerful digital domain. The paper publication of a photograph has its own strength because the image is worth publishing. I think of our timelines of Instagram, full of images, rich but ephemeral for the nature of the network. The paper is the fruit of a selection and responsibility of those who chose that content».

On the future of the industry, she says: «we are living in a phase of transition. We need to find a new balance. A need of the desire to read quality content and potentialities. Those are the limits of the web and the immortal fetish of the physical object but, in particular, the valorization of the works of the producers».

Reading Room, Milan

Via Mincio, 10, Milan, Italy

A space in Milan dedicated to the dissemination, understanding and appreciation of magazines.

Editorial Team

The writer does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organization that would benefit from this article.

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check and buy on Prototipo Store
item collections in limited edition
crafted according to our editorial search

Hemp / made in Italy
Lampoon is working to restore
Hemp production in Italy
as hemp is the one and only
natural vegetal fiber sourceable in the country
for more info, please email us at [email protected]

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