MILAN — After being canceled and then postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic last year and in April 2021, expectations are high in Milan for the return of the Salone del Mobile and Design Week, running Sunday through Friday. While more contained compared to past editions, as restrictions continue to be enforced given the Delta variant and travel bans remain in place for some countries, brands are still taking the opportunity to present their latest designs.
Here is a roundup of some of the main events and presentations being staged in Milan.
“I took my inspiration for this Armani/Casa collection from nature. We live on this planet, and we need to be in touch with the earth,” said Giorgio Armani, revealing the main idea behind his new furniture range. “Natural elements give us calm and serenity and provide the background against which we can express ourselves.”
In keeping with his signature elegant and sober aesthetic, he turned to the outdoors, playing with delicate animal prints, textures reproducing the touch and feel of flowers and leaves, and recreated stone veining, all rendered in a color palette of shades of green, blue, turquoise and neutral tones.
As part of the collection, Armani developed a limited-edition bar cabinet, called Royal, available in only 88 pieces. Featuring an elongated cylindrical structure, it is covered with Japanese tatami-inspired paper and cotton, a link to the designer’s fascination with the Eastern world.
Reflecting the convivial spirit of the collection, the designer also created logoed accessories for barbecue lovers, including a fork, a spatula and tongs, but also men’s and women’s aprons crafted from a fireproof fabric.
At Milan Design Week, Versace is unveiling a collection of pieces crafted by licensing partner Luxury Living Group and designed by architect duo Roberto Palomba and Ludovica Serafini.
“I am a very curious person and I always embrace every occasion to learn something new. When I started brainstorming with Ludovica and Roberto, I was captured by their incredible knowledge of design and by the ideas they already had for Versace Home,” said the Italian luxury brand’s chief creative officer Donatella Versace. “The way they were able to infuse the new collection with Versace’s iconic codes in their clean, modern and elegant lines is really cool. I love their use of colors and the way they wanted to be respectful of the brand, but at the same time bring it into the present day with their vision.”
Presented inside the new Versace Home store on Milan’s Via Durini, which for the occasion is hosting a special installation by emerging Canadian artist Paul Kneale, the collection celebrates Versace’s signature unconventional and eclectic style through pieces that combine geometric lines and eye-catching decorative elements.
The new La Greca pattern, which debuted with Versace’s fall 2021 fashion collection, takes center stage, appearing as the jacquard motif that peppers a range of designs, including the Aeternitas Love rounded bed but also the cushions placed on the sinuous Stiletto leather sofa.
Gucci’s take on a traditional Italian stationery shop was unveiled on the inaugural day of Salone del Mobile through a temporary store the brand set up in the city’s central Via Manzoni. In keeping with the “cabinet of curiosities” inspiration that underlies the entire Gucci Lifestyle collection, the fashion house’s creative director Alessandro Michele conceived the Gucci Cartoleria location as an invitation for exploration and a place to have one’s own imagination tickled by an array of inputs and objects, ranging from notebooks to micro-apartments for mice with Gucci furnishings.
“When I was a child, going to the stationery store and finding pencils, pens, notebooks, games, meant bringing a dream into my daily routine. They were fine, well-made objects that spoke of craftsmanship and that, though part of my everyday life, were able to give off a magical, mysterious and wonderful aura,” said Michele, defining the project as “a sort of consecration, a tribute that was right for me to pay.”
“So, I imagined a small cabinet of curiosities, a Wunderkammer, like the cave of Ali Baba, that could accommodate these everyday objects and return them to a fairy-tale dimension. I could have included them in the collections long ago, but they were not strictly related to clothing and accessories. That’s why I wanted to build a whimsical space where they could be laid out, to restore to everyday life that sense of wonder that makes them so dear to me,” he added.
The assortment includes notebooks, notepads, letter cases, pencils and pencil cases covered in GG supreme canvas, graphic patterns, floral designs as well as Disney characters; refillable pens in brass plated in either palladium or gold; fans made of wood and satin silk; playing cards and hand-crafted dice sets with marbled effects as well as briefcases containing either poker or backgammon sets, all offered in brightly colored Geometric G pattern or in the signature GG supreme canvas. A range of sleeping masks, pillows, slippers and silk pajamas splashed with a variety of the brand’s prints were also part of the fun assortment.
While the temporary store will run through Sept. 17, the collection will also be available at select Gucci stores and on the brand’s e-commerce site beginning Friday.
To mark this special edition of Milan’s Salone del Mobile, Dior invited 17 international artists and designers to reinterpret the medallion chair, a symbol of the French fashion house since its inception in 1947.
Displayed in an installation at Palazzo Citterio, in the city’s artsy Brera district, the different takes on the design were conceived by creative talents including Sam Baron, Nacho Carbonell, Pierre Charpin, Dimore Studio, Khaled El Mays, Martino Gamper, Constance Guisset, India Mahdavi, Joy de Rohan Chabot, Linde Freya Tangelder, Atang Tshikare, Seungjin Yang, Ma Yansong, Jinyeong Yeon, Tokujin Yoshioka, Pierre Yovanovitch and Oki Sato, the founder of Japanese design firm Nendo.
Each drastically reimagining the silhouette of the oval-back, Louis XVI-style chair in its proportions and materials, highlights included Baron’s interpretation turning the style into a rocking double-chair, combining multiple seats to form a bench or intertwining them in fixed compositions; Ma’s take morphing the chair’s surface to mimic the effect of facing a strong wind, and Sato’s transformation of the feminine style into a geometric and enveloping shape rendered in vinyl black and translucent hues.
Working with decorator Victor Grandpierre, founder Christian Dior introduced the streamlined Neoclassical style that came to define the Dior universe. The chair became a feature of his couture salon and his store decor — beginning with the brand’s first boutique on Avenue Montaigne in Paris — as well as appearing in illustrator René Gruau’s period advertisements for perfumes such as Diorama and Miss Dior.
A fixture of Milan Design Week where it usually takes over the frescoed rooms of Palazzo Serbelloni, Louis Vuitton sat out the 2021 edition but took the opportunity to roll out preorders for the latest design pieces in its ever-expanding Objets Nomades collection.
Marcel Wanders returned to collaborate with the luxury brand on the Petal Chair boasting nine petal-like cushions covered in ivory leather and recalling the brand’s monogram design, while Fernando and Humberto Campana developed a limited-edition arty shield available in 30 pieces globally. Called Aguacate and mimicking the internal structure of the avocado, the shield is made of nine circular panels, each featuring strips of leather in saturated and bold shades.
The design duo also unveiled the Merengue pouffe, reminiscent of a meringue pastry and available in four colorways.
Bulgari turned into a patron of the arts with its 2021 initiative for Milan Design Week, hosting an art exhibition at the GAM, or Gallery of Modern Art, in central Milan. The Rome-based jeweler invited four international artists to develop their own notion of metamorphosis, a concept that is dear to the brand as symbolized by its signature Serpenti snake-like designs.
Spread across the courtyard, grand staircase and four rooms inside the 18th-century Villa Reale housing the gallery, the exhibition features works by Azuma Makoto, Ann Veronica Janssens, Daan Roosegaarde and architect Vincent Van Duysen, who developed the theme in unexpected ways, reflecting on how the power of time, nature and human perception can transform the world we live in.
For instance, Japan-based Makoto developed a life-size Garden of Eden in which natural elements such as leaves, fruits and flowers hang from a man-made copper tree and cover the glass case at its feet, inviting visitors to appreciate the change in shape, color and smell of the natural elements subject to decay. The artist also lends his poetic touch to a botanical sculpture housed inside the Bulgari hotel in Milan made of exotic and seasonal flowers partly sprayed in gold.
Exploring the power of the light, Roosegaarde created an artwork consisting of a wall covered in light and heat-sensitive metallic flowers, which bloom and close according to different conditions. He called it Lotus Oculos and conceived it as a dialogue between technology and nature, perhaps as a critique on the balance to be found between humanity and the environment.
The idea of perceptions informs Janssen’s “Gam Gam Gam” exhibit contrasting with the opulent coffered ceiling and marble columns of the room. Six minimalist glass cases — which display the artist’s experiments on light and reflection — force the audience to shift its perception of things, a means to show reality in a different way, as she put it.
Van Duysen, too, worked on shifting perceptions by installing a monolithic maze inside a room at the gallery, forcing visitors to follow a predetermined pathway but at the same time intending the installation as a contemplative space, hence the artwork’s name: “Shelter.” Covered in metal, both golden and silver, the maze’s walls reference Bulgari’s Serpenti creations.
Hermès’ interior design collection has become over the years as covetable as its signature leather goods products, so it comes as no surprise that the French luxury brand continues to expand its offering.
In open contrast to the pandemic reality that has forced people to stay apart, thus lacking physical contact, the latest additions include objects where luxe materials are front and center.
Taking over sports center La Pelota in Milan’s Brera district, Hermès has unveiled a collection rich in raw and tactile materials including the “Sillage d’Hermès” armchair with a rounded shape and vintage flair designed by Studio Mumbai. It was crafted from beechwood, and upholstered with a sustainable cellulosic compound made of 70 percent recycled materials assembled in Apulia, the Italian region that boasts a five-century-old tradition in the making of papier-mâché. Pushing the boundaries of material innovation, the house also introduced the “Sialk” centerpieces realized using a thin copper sheet enameled with bold colors.
Off-White C/O Ginori 1735
On the occasion of Milan Design Week, Off-White and Ginori 1735 are presenting a limited-edition capsule that previews a more extensive partnership to be unveiled in 2022.
Introduced at the hip fashion brand’s Milan flagship, whose first level was transformed into a customized home environment, the capsule includes a full tableware set with dinner plates, serving platters, a teapot and teacup saucer set. Rendered in a restrained palette of black and white, the pieces combine the late-Baroque design of Ginori 1735’s Antico Doccia collection with Off-White’s urban touch, reflected in graffiti-inspired decors.
“This is a collection for the modern dining room, whether formal in a home, a Millennial apartment, or simply a dorm room,” said Off-White founder and chief creative director Virgil Abloh. “The imposition of the modernity of a logo and graffiti art with the respected house of Ginori 1735 is proof that good design can live on forever.”
Reprising the theatrical theme that ran through its fall 2021 runway event held last March at Milan’s Piccolo Teatro, Valentino unveiled a new window concept at its Milan flagship marking the retail debut of the “Valentino Act” collection in tandem with local Design Week. Drawing elements from theater spaces including red velvet curtains and the signature upholstered armchairs dating as far back as the 1940s, the concept aims to spotlight Valentino’s commitment to support culture at large, all the while boasting a sustainable silver lining. Inside the store, several rooms are covered in posters depicting the house’s fall 2021 ad campaign starring Zendaya and lensed by David Sims. The Roman couture house has also taken over a newsstand on Via dei Giardini, a stone’s throw from the brand’s flagship, with the ads.
Throughout September, the Tod’s boutique in Milan’s Via Montenapoleone will carry the Mosaic bag line made from recovering unused materials and using traditional patchwork techniques. The collection comprises shopping totes and pouches and a selection of home accessories, all made using the same upcycling process.
To mark the occasion, the flagship is staging the installation “Artcycling” by American artist Willie Cole. Known for creating three-dimensional art pieces from existing materials, Cole has created unique sculptures made from recycled Tod’s leather and collaborating with the Italian luxury firm’s artisans, using leathers, semifinished products and salvaged pieces from different production processes as raw materials for artistic invention, celebrating manual work and craftsmanship.
Tod’s chairman and chief executive officer Diego Della Valle praised Cole’s “exceptional sense” of the raw materials, and how his sculptures reflect “the philosophy of handcraft” and quality, respecting sustainability and recycling.“To see Willie Cole working in our company has given us great satisfaction because the promotion of art is very important for our brand. With this project we launch an important message of respect of things, nature and all people and this is the first of many partnerships that we will form and that will be managed by our academy.”
“Touring the studio and factory with Tod’s artisans highlighted the true made by hand nature of the brand’s shoes and accessories,” said Cole. “Everything from hand-shaved wooden shoe forms, to stitching and quality testing was a demonstration of their unique maker culture. Working with Tod’s artisan team for 10 days allowed me to create multiple custom art pieces with upcycled materials. It was the experience of a lifetime.”
After the unveiling in Milan, the sculptures will travel to Paris, London, New York and Miami.
After months spent confined within four walls, Etro celebrated the outdoor life with the Veranda line presented as part of the Etro Home Interiors collection, which is produced under license by Italian manufacturer Jumbo Group.
The range is made up of pieces such as chairs, chaise longues and tables whose tops double as trays, all referencing nature in their materials, neutral color palettes or prints of lush tropical forests.
The brand’s signature paisley motif also appears throughout the lineup, including in the Hamar armchair with a rattan and beech wood structure and embellished with brass ring decorations; in the sinuous Menfi chaise longue, where it contrasts with the Selva print of the headrest, as well as in the wooden top of the Vessel tables.
Also licensed to Jumbo Group, the Roberto Cavalli Home Interiors restated the stylistic codes of the fashion house through a generous amount of animal prints, leather and metal details. The main new designs were presented as part of the Wild Dining and Wild Suite ranges: highlights for the former included the Kibo rounded table combining wavy lines in brushed bronze at the base with a glossy grey Carbalho slab, as well as the slender Shira chair upholstered in jaguar printed silk and black leather. Standout items for the latter were the Antigua desk embellished with golden tubular elements at the base and the striking Darlington deep-buttoned leather sofa accessorized with animal patterned cushions.
In addition to the main lines — which include linens, tableware and wallpapers — a home capsule collection dubbed “Cavalli Scratch” was launched to celebrate the first fashion effort the brand’s creative consultant Fausto Puglisi unveiled in February.
In sync with that collection, feline details like sharp “fang” motifs were added to animal prints and black leather adorning the ten-item capsule, which was immediately made available to purchase at the Cavalli boutique in the city’s Golden Triangle. The range will also launch exclusively on the brand’s online store from mid-September.
Key pieces in the collection include the Wild Swing Chair covered in the Flag print fabric that is Puglisi’s reinterpretation of the American flag in which the stars are replaced with jaguar spots and the stripes with a zebra pattern in sepia tones. The pattern also informed cushions embellished with fangs dangling from the hems and a carpet hand-tufted in New Zealand wool and bamboo silk. In the same tone, golden fangs appeared to support lamps and marble tops in coffee tables, as well as to decorate the edgy zipper running all around an armchair combining animal prints and black leather.
Missoni’s colorful style and signature patterns take center stage in its latest home collection.
For Milan Design Week the Italian luxury brand developed installations across three sites introducing a new range of chairs carved from solid, curved wood painted in five different degrade nuances including plum, turquoise and sunflower yellow, as well as a new armchair with 1960s inflections, upholstered in five iterations of the signature zig-zag patterns.
As part of the Creative Connection display hosted by design magazine Interni in the courtyard of the Università Statale di Milano, it showcased items from its outdoor line, including the Nap Outdoor modular sofa, covered in striped fabrics, which become the focus of this otherwise sleek and simple design. Items from the home line were also presented at the brand’s store on Via Sant’Andrea to complement its presence at Milan Design Week.
Antonio Marras this season continued its collaboration with Apulia-based Fratelli Colì for the creation of the brand’s ceramic tableware sets, embellished with images of the Pois Siblings series, which the brand introduced last winter.
In addition, inspired by the polka-dotted outfits of the characters he drew, Marras developed a new line of table accessories featuring a graphic look.
With the Fratelli Colì company, the Sardinian designer also created a wide collection of one-of-a-kind artistic ceramics, spanning from vases to lamps. Among the array of items presented in the fascinating set of Milan’s Circolo Marras venue, he unveiled a line of lampshades designed in collaboration with interior designer Nicola Pietrobelli.
In addition, during Milan Design Week, Marras is teaming up with the Famiglia Rana restaurant to set up a temporary bistrot and a night restaurant decorated with special installations. The fashion company also collaborated with Italian food delivery start-up L’Orto di Jack to welcome guests with a scenic vegetable garden.
At a time when our homes have become a shelter, the kitchen has often served as a room for gathering together.
Partnering with leading Italian furniture company Scavolini, Diesel Living unveiled its newest kitchen concept, aptly named “Get Together.”
Crafted from burnt wood-look melamine combined with elements in a metal finish heightening the concept’s industrial vibe, which is also underscored by its modularity, the kitchen features a central island and an operating block flanked by tall units that can be arranged in different customized layouts.
La Double J
J.J. Martin has been carving out a niche of customers and followers who can instantly recognize themselves in the sophisticated yet fun aesthetic of her La Double J brand.
Expanding beyond clothes, Martin has been eager to decorate the homes and tables of her clients since introducing the home category in 2017.
For her latest offering, to be presented today, she is introducing glassware, linens and accessories to complement the porcelain tabletop pieces, already projecting a festive mood for the 2021 holiday season. Working the brand’s signature vintage aesthetic, the homeware offering includes plates that feature painterly birds inspired by dinnerware sets owned by Napoleon III, as well as geometric 1970s designs found in the archives of Mantero Seta, while a range of printed velvet cushions, trinket trays and vases were offered as perfect gifts for family and friends come holiday season.
F.R.S for Restless Sleepers
Francesca Ruffini has always been a master of loungewear chic, so it should come as no surprise that her latest fashion offering included a few homeware objects, which were unveiled in conjunction with the release of the brand’s resort 2022 collection, a joint effort with men’s wear designer Umit Benan, with whom Ruffini shares the same relaxed and laid-back attitude.
Splashed with brushstroke-like prints or dyed with opulent colors such as midnight blue and ocher boasting a degrade effect, Ruffini introduced a series of duvets and bed pillows crafted from luxurious silk twill and cotton fabrics. They will be on sale starting at the beginning of November.
Acqua di Parma
Acqua di Parma doubled its collaboration game by launching two projects with high-end Italian furnishings company Poltrona Frau and the Artemest online destination for Made in Italy handmade luxury products.
For the former tie-up, the LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton-controlled beauty label released a smart, high-tech home scent diffuser, which was conceived by the design duo behind GamFratesi. The diffuser’s covering is crafted from soft Pelle Frau leather and cut in a circular shape to recall Acqua di Parma fragrances’ signature hat box packaging.
Each diffuser can be customized with coverings in five colors — which can be additionally engraved with customers’ initials at Acqua di Parma stores — and can feature three of a selection of the nine fragrances of the beauty brand.
The diffuser is designed to enable users to remotely select the desired fragrance at any time through a technology for programming and diffusing scents. Each perfumed refill also contains an intelligent recognition system that is read by the wireless device which, depending on the composition of the scent, activates the best diffusion mode to enhance the olfactory formulation. Connected via Wi-Fi to an online system that manages all information and updates, the diffuser can also be controlled manually as well as by mobile phones and computers.
Acqua di Parma also teamed with Artemest, which enlisted the Tuscan workshops of Carrara Home Design and Giulio Giannini & Sons for a collaboration resulting in a limited-edition set of candles and marble candleholders, packaged in a marbled paper box.
Located in the heart of the Carrara marble quarries, Carrara Home Design produced the custom-made candleholder, available in white Carrara and black Marquina marbles, with both options engraved with the logos of Acqua di Parma and Artemest.
Meanwhile, Giannini was tasked with creating the packaging. Founded in Florence in 1856, this is one of the oldest continuously operating bookbinding workshops in the world, currently run by the sixth generation of the family in Florence. Maria Giannini hand-designed the pattern blending shades of black, white and yellow using the ancient technique of paper marbling.
Retailing at 250 euros, each set comes with an Acqua di Parma candle to be picked among the “Buongiorno,” “Luce di Colonia” and “Oh, L’Amore” scent options. Available in only 150 pieces, the set launched at the brand’s stores in Milan and Rome as well as online at artemest.com on Monday.
Valextra is staging a sculptural light installation at its Milan flagship dubbed “Black Light” by award-winning British designer Tom Dixon. Inspired by the archives of Milanese masters Gio Ponti, Ettore Sottsass and Achille Castiglioni, the installation will display 10 monumental LED light forms by Dixon and Austrian lighting specialists Prolicht and Valextra’s new Chiaroscuro handbag.
Inspired by the Italian chiaroscuro art technique that juxtaposes light and shadow, Valextra reinterpreted three of its signature leather bags — the Iside, the Tric Trac and the Bucket.
“My first encounter with Milan opened my eyes to an immense international design world that had previously been invisible from my British perspective,” said Dixon. “The passion for design of the Milanese and the understanding of its transformative power remains with me to this day.”
Valextra’s CEO Xavier Rougeaux emphasized the importance for the Milan-based brand to be part of the first edition of the Salone del Mobile since 2019, “quite literally, turning the lights on again,” praising Dixon’s “evocative light sculptures.”
The “Black Light” installation is set to travel to multiple Valextra boutiques around the world.
“The Library of Ever” was the artistic project Aspesi set up in its Milanese flagship in central via San Pietro all’Orto.
The brand invited Spanish designer and architect Patricia Urquiola to reimagine the shop’s windows with an installation that plays with glass elements and features a selection of the over 250 titles included in the bibliography of Hans Ulrich Obrist, the well-known Swiss art curator, critic and historian who is also artistic director of London’s Serpentine Galleries.
Curated by Gianluigi Ricuperati, the project enabled visitors to interact with some of the volumes by reading them in a dedicated, transparent corner. Spread out inside the store, four areas additionally showcased over a hundred titles hailing from the personal library of Ricuperati as well as sculptures by Monica Taverniti.
In addition to setting up a pop-up store at Rinascente dedicated to its Sunnei Objects lifestyle line launched earlier this year, the Milan-based brand will mark design week today, unveiling an installation in front of its store in Via Vela, where Simone Rizzo and Loris Messina kick-started the company in 2014.
Even though they moved the headquarters to the more expansive Palazzina Sunnei building last year, the Via Vela outpost — which also used to house the brand’s offices — remains key for the creative duo not only commercially, but as an indie hub for events and social gatherings.
The new installation designed by the NM3 studio in front of the store intends to enhance this aspect by setting up a steel cube with two extensions on the sides that double as benches to further encourage mingling. A maple tree will stand at the center of the metallic structure, blending nature and design.