For spring/summer 2019, Prada invited three leading architects, Cini Boeri, Elizabeth Diller and Kazuyo Sejima to create women’s pieces in nylon. This is an evolution of the Prada Invites series first introduced with the fall/winter 2018 show. The Italian company also presented the actual design process in its Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II flagship, Prada presented an installation dedicated not only to the products, but also to the approach of the architects, collaborating with Google offering a 3-D virtual reality experience. Employing Tilt Brush, an application developed by Google to paint within 3-D spaces, artist Anna Zhilyaeva created a virtual landscape inspired by the city of Milan and the bag designed by Boeri. Through 3-D goggles, guests explored the work from different angles.
Hermès showcased its interior design collection with an exhibition path defined by precise dry stone walls. Natural materials, spanning from mahogany to rattan and yak wool were crafted into elegant pieces, including soft blankets with geometric patterns, essential vases and lacquered boxes.
Brunello Cucinelli is committed to “telegraphing the idea of returning to live in harmony with the world. I like less the word sustainability, and much more harmony and hope.” To wit, the brand’s latest lifestyle collection for fall presented at the flagship on Via Montenapoleone during Milan Design Week, was a warm combination of silk cushions punctuated by metallic accents, cashmere blankets and even teddy bears, rendered in neutral and earthy colors that enhanced the collection’s cozy vibe.
In keeping with its ongoing collaborative efforts with renowned architects, luxury leather goods company Valextra teamed up with John Pawson, who reconfigured the company’s flagship in Milan. “This was an amazing opportunity to do something between a shop and a museum or gallery, without it being formal or pretentious,” said Pawson. The unit has been revamped to feature monochromatic concrete walls and ceilings, as well as displayers and altar-like tables to achieve “clarity,” and “a visual, spatial comfort,” he added. The store will keep the new design, which follows those of Martino Gamper, Kendo Kuma and Snarkitecture, among other architects, for two years. “I felt the need to bring the space back to Valextra’s core values, putting the product at the center and allowing the space to change every two or three months,” said Sara Ferrero, Valextra chief executive officer, adding the company plans to add temporary installations to enrich the space.
As part of their third collaboration, Bitossi Home and Milanese tableware and furnishings retailer Funky Table have brought Paula Cademartori onboard to expand their “La Tavola Scomposta,” or “Mismatched Table” collection. The accessories designer created a series of ceramics inspired by the flowers and plants of her native South American’s country of Brazil. Displayed in a whimsical room covered in red and white striped tapestry, the range featuring floral-shaped decorations in rusty and pastel tones included playful vases, cup covers and trays for knickknacks.
Iceberg surfed the limited edition product wave by launching 30 handmade skateboards, retailing singularly at 240 euros as well as in a set of three pieces at 720 euros and available both at the brand’s Milanese flagship and online. For the project, Iceberg’s creative director James Long teamed with Surf The Road, a group of young Italian artisans based in the town of Gabicce, a 30-minute drive from the brand’s parent company Gilmar’s headquarters. “In a world where all the mega-brands collaborate, I just thought it would be very nice to do something with local guys. They’re Italian, they’re into skate, they love the brand, they really liked and respected what I was doing with the graphic,” said Long, who adapted the racing motifs of Iceberg’s spring 2019 collection to the skateboards. “I’ve always looked at different sports… and it just made sense to bring their realness to my kind of fashion aesthetic. It’s just about having a little fun really, to do something new. And the graphics just work so well with it,” he added, teasing that he would like to explore skiwear next.
Marking its 25th anniversary, Dodo is planning plenty of celebrations this year starting from the debut of a collection dedicated to its signature knots, crafted from responsible sourced yellow, rose and silver gold, which the company debuted during Milan Design Week. For the launch, Dodo collaborated with Chinese American artist Windy Chien, who self-proclaimed herself as “obsessed by knots [because] they are functional, historical, beautiful designed objects but also beautiful aesthetically,” and with a meaning, she said. Chien took over the window of Dodo’s Milan store installing 13 different knots – including some original styles – in colors ranging from orange to plum hanging from a plain canvas. “We wanted to go back to the roots, it was the right time to glorify the knot,” said Dodo’s managing director Charles De Fleurieu. In September Dodo will also reissue five of its iconic charms in the three gold versions as part of the celebrations.
Balmain celebrated Design Week with a cocktail hosted in its Via Montenapoleone store, which opened last year. To mark the first anniversary, the Milanese unit added a corner dedicated to men’s wear and showcased a furniture piece by Franco-Italian artist and designer Marc Ange. Dubbed “L’Araignée chair,” the spider-like velvet armchair with multiple legs was placed on the first floor of the store. “The house of Balmain and my creations have a lot in common: This impertinent, flamboyant yet controlled side,” said Ange, defining the seat as a “mini-throne.”Ange, who founded the Bloom Room design agency in 2008 and, since then has worked for brands including Jean Paul Gaultier, Prada, Louis Vuitton, Ferrari and Moët & Chandon, is currently designing the Dar Simons in Marrakech, a new restaurant by Belgian-Indonesian chef Carlo Simons opening in September.
RED Valentino celebrated Milan Design Week with the release of a limited edition t-shirt designed by creative director Pierpaolo Piccioli in collaboration with students of Rome’s art institute Accademia di Belle Arti. Called Love and Rock, the t-shirt features a graphic heart-shaped design crossed by Cupid’s arrow, as well as the R and V lettering. The piece, available at the brand’s flagship in Milan and online, retails at 150 euros.
In perfect synergy with the Issey Miyake Milan shop, opened in 2017 inside a 19th century historic building, the four installations specially created for the Fuori Salone by Dutch designer Jólan van der Wiel, blend beautifully into the space. “The Journey of a Raindrop” consists in a variety of pieces that use water and air, inspired by the different shapes a raindrop experiences throughout its lifetime. “When we started to collaborate with Issey Miyake we decided to work around the theme of water, because water can have different shapes like textiles, it can be one drop, it can be ocean, so it’s a very interesting material,” said van der Wiel.
At the Gallerie d’Italia on Piazza Scala, at the Intesa Sanpaolo museum site, Lavinia Biagiotti presented “Il Genio Futurista” by Giacomo Balla, which will be displayed until May 12. Part of the Biagiotti Collection, this is one of the most symbolic works of the Futurist movement and is exhibited for the first time in Milan, said the designer. It’s the biggest painting by Balla, and first created in 1925 for the Paris Expo and then shown in Rome in 1928, making this only the third time it is being publicly exhibited. Based on the Italian flag’s colors, red white and green, on a blue and azure background, it is a schematic representation of a man, with a star as the head, the arms stretched forming an M, the initials of Filippo Tommaso Marinetti, the inventor of Futurism. “This is a celebration of Italian creativity, it’s a sign of confidence in beauty and in the future,” enthused Biagiotti. “I believe creativity will save Italy.” The painting has a special meaning for the designer, who bought it at an auction in 2004 with her late mother Laura, and is part of the 300-piece collection of Giacomo Balla works held at the Fondazione Biagiotti. “It expresses strength and energy,” said Michele Norsa, vice president of the group.
Elisabetta Franchi for the first time participated to Design Week with wallpaper designed by Simone Guidarelli. “It’s such an important moment, I’m so happy to be part of it, and I found a great synergy with Simone,” said the designer, who created a capsule with Guidarelli’s prints that will be available only at the Milan boutique in a limited edition. The designer herself donned one such pantsuit in a floral pattern.
Celebrating the 50th anniversary of Italian designer Giancarlo Piretti’s Plia folding chair, outerwear specialist Woolrich hosted an exhibition of objects and pictures at its Milan flagship. Designed in 1967 and presented for the first time to buyers at Milan’s furniture trade show Salone del Mobile the following year, the Plia with its metallic hardware and transparent seat and back is representative of the designer’s work rooted in “incorporating the novelty to telegraph an unparalleled inventive freshness,” explained Piretti’s friend and artist Giovanni Anceschi. Marking the anniversary, Italy’s company Codiceicona will reissue the chair featuring a polka-dotted design.
Designer Massimiliano Giornetti stretched his muscle with an exclusive and limited edition furniture collection realized in partnership with Florentine Artecornici Design. Drawing inspiration from Ottoman portraits and matching them to magnolia flowers, leopard prints and architectural drawings, Giornetti created signature prints, which adorned everything from cushions to a lacquered console table and armchairs, with a retro feel to them. “This project is about memory and the encounter between distant worlds, the East and the West,” said Giornetti of his hodgepodge of references, adding he wanted to telegraph the idea of “haute mobilier [couture furniture] in which fashion and design blend, seeking product uniqueness and aesthetic balance.” The designer, a previous Salvatore Ferragamo creative director, also revealed he’s gearing up to unveil a new fashion-related project in the near future.
In keeping with his goal to drive the cultural conversation ahead, GCDS’ creative director Giuliano Calza commissioned architecture firm Studio Borbon to revamp the brand’s store in Milan’s Porta Nuova district to feature rainbow-colored curtains marking the different spaces. Throughout the city’s Design Week, the flagship also hosted an exhibit of images by Nadia Lee Cohen addressing topics such as racism, gender and politics, as well as a bronze three-breasted bust by Calza. The latter artwork resonates with the designer’s choice to donate part of the proceeds from the store’s sales during Milan Design Week to nonprofit Fondazione Umberto Veronesi, to support the research against breast cancer. A dedicated merchandising available at the brand’s e-commerce will contribute to the cause throughout the year.
Fratelli Rossetti presented a limited edition sandal developed in partnership with Lebanese designer Nada Debs. Dubbed “Design at your heels,” the style features a zig-zag pattern on the heel made of walnut wood with mother-of-pearl inlay. According to Debs, the motif symbolizes the heartbeat of Milan and Beirut, which she considers two buzzing cities and creative hubs. “I met Nada on one of my travels to Beirut, a city that I love for its intellectual vivaciousness” said Diego Rossetti, president of the footwear brand. “I visited her studio and I was fascinated by her ability to combine design and craft, which are values that we share.” The style, which was offered in off-white and red versions, was produced in only sixty pieces. Retailing at 550 euros, the limited-edition sandal is available exclusively at the brand’s Milan and Beirut stores, in addition to Fratelli Rossetti’s e-commerce.
A whirlwind of color invaded the Anteprima shop thanks to Japanese artist Ellie Omiya. In collaboration with Corvasce Design, an eco-friendly Italian company that produces cardboard furniture, the event hosted a live performance where the artist painted different pieces in a fun and cheerful style. “I found that the Milano Design Week is becoming more collaborative with art, much more than before; before it was just about furniture, or lighting, but these days everybody is collaborating with artists, and I really like that,” Anteprima’s founder and designer Izumi Ogino said. “As a fashion designer I can see how some of the trends we are spotting are also reflected in furniture, like the 70’s to 90’s’ influence and color green, which everybody is using.”
As if it was taking a sharp curve, a fully functioning car customized with the iconic Rimowa aluminum panels was at the heart of Guillermo Santomá’s installation for the luggage company, now under the LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton umbrella. The Spanish artist was inspired by the idea of a conceptual gas station and placed the car into a light and sound sculpture. Together with contemporary art magazine and creative studio Kaleidoscope, Rimowa created a multi-platform project developing three different but interconnected pieces: an installation, a printed publication and a short film showing the customized car going through wild landscapes. “It’s a performance piece where the most important thing is the video because it shows how the item works; also for this reason the piece is set sideways to show its flexibility,” the artist said.
Seventy’s Milan store housed furniture pieces with a green ethos. Developed by design studio robertopamio+partners for Venice-based furniture label Staygreen, the pieces – which include a round table, chairs and stools, a lamp and also a bookcase – were crafted from sustainable structured cellulose composed by wood fibers, recycled paper and natural glues and externally finished with Solid Green, an eco-friendly compound patented by Staygreen.