British Artist Ian Berry’s giant mural, made entirely of jeans for the 150th Anniversary of Levi’s 501®, rolls into Milan for this year’s Design Week. The iconic brand’s milestone is celebrated with this landmark piece by the famed London based artist, whose signature medium is recycled denim, it’s no surprise that Levi’s turned to him to make, in their words, “a work of art as iconic as the 501® Jean.”
Earlier in the year, the Levi’s® brand introduced its Greatest Story Ever Worn global campaign celebrating the 150th anniversary of the 501® jean as an ever-expanding story, written and rewritten by everyone who wears them. In their own words Levi’s said, “As the excitement around the anniversary ramps up, Europe has taken the celebration to another level, partnering with the famous denim artist Ian Berry on a three-day art installation in the heart of Paris.” Ian Berry’s European tribute to the legendary American brand’s global campaign debuted last month in Paris’s Place de la République. You can see this extraordinary mural at its next exhibition in Milan for Design Week from April 17 to 23, and in Madrid’s Plaza del Callao from May 4 to 7.
Milan Design Week’s showing of Berry’s mural is part of Interni Fuorisalone 2023’s Design Re-Evolution Exhibition at the University of Milan’s historic Ca’ Granda central courtyard, in Via Festa del Perdono, one of the city’s most symbolic buildings. Given that Ian Berry pioneered the use of jeans as his artistic medium nearly two decades ago, his reuse of denim makes Interni’s exquisitely curated FuoriSalone 2023 a perfect forum to exhibit the work.
Berry is no stranger to Italy and has been featured in numerous Italian publications in the country where ‘blue jeans’ were not only first popularised, but also where denim has played an important role throughout many cultural evolutions, both ancient and modern. “I’ve worked with the city of Genoa which is of course where the name ‘jeans’ originated, and unveiled a portrait of Garibaldi at Museo del Risorgimento with ‘the unifier of Italy’ depicted wearing the progenitor of modern jeans. In the 15th century port city of Genoa, a strong cross-weave cotton from the French city of Nimes was used for sails and protecting goods, resulting in the name ‘denim’ from Serge de Nim. Similar textiles were later dyed with indigo, fashioned into work clothes and exported with the French name ‘bleu de Genes’ – ‘blue jeans.’ Berry notes, “It was there I saw the beautiful indigo tapestries.”