1) DESIGN WEEK’S SUPERSTARS: They launched a new interior design brand, unveiled one of the most visited exhibitions of the week, developed a collaboration with a major luxury powerhouse and at the same time entertained the Salone crew with exciting parties, including homemade DJ-sets. This season, Dimorestudio’s Britt Moran and Emiliano Salci were Design Week’s superstars.
“We have known Pietro Beccari, the current ceo of Dior for many years, we worked with him at Fendi [where he was president and chief executive officer until 2018]. He asked us if we would have been interested in doing a collaboration for the home accessories and obviously we loved the idea,” said Moran, referring to the capsule collection they created for Dior and which was shown at Milan’s prestigious Casa degli Atellani. “We looked into their archives and they explained us the history behind their home accessories and so we came up with our interpretation of objects that would have worked well for Dior. I think we wanted to create something that was very timeless for them, so we didn’t use any kind of strong colors or any experimental materials.” Rattan, silver, bronze and brass gave a luxurious yet understated touch to tableware, picture frames and small storage compartments, which will be on sale at Dior’s dedicated store on Paris’ Avenue Montaigne. “They are also going to be distributed perhaps in London and in New York,” Moran added. “Dior’s idea is to create collaborations once a year with various designers so they can really build up the collection. For the moment, this is a one-shot project with them, but hopefully more will come out.”
In keeping with the Seventies’ moment the design firm is channeling, Moran and Salci also created an exhibition dedicated to late furniture designer Gabriella Crespi. Along with re-creating some of her own environments, including her eclectic bedroom, the exhibit unveiled Dimorestudio’s reedition of Crespi’s nine iconic pieces, including the Scudo sconce, the Fungo lamp and the Eclipse table. On top of this, during Milan Design Week, Moran and Salci launched a brand called Dimore Milano. “It’s the combination of everything we have done until now, we are a very 360-degree studio. We will continue with our collection of furniture and with fabrics. But we put everything together under one brand and we are beginning working on our distribution network,” Moran explained. “For Dimore Milano we are controlling our own distribution and we are selecting high-end galleries for some of the pieces and we are also selecting multibrand furniture showrooms for other pieces. We are starting now with North America and Europe and the idea is then to move into the Middle East and Asia and then South America. I think we waited to be ready, before we put our name out of there we wanted to make sure to not take any wrong steps.…Now our products are more for residential projects but I think that we will be stepping into the world of hospitality. We are also doing outdoor so I think contract is going to be the next step.”
2) ITALIAN PRIDE: Louis Vuitton took over the frescoed rooms of storied Palazzo Serbelloni with a charming installation to unveil its ever-expanding Objets Nomades collection, with a few additions by Italian studios in tow. Treviso-based design studio Zanellato/Bortotto created a three-panel screen crafted from Vuitton’s leather woven to mimic the geometric mandala designs inspired by Mongolian nomadic populations’ yurt houses, as well as by the explosion of the brand’s monogram. Mounted on a Carrara marble base, the objet blends the functional and decorative functions as “it can be moved throughout the space in a nomadic way and also bears an emotional function,” explained product designer Giorgia Zanellato. Another addition to the portfolio of designers was Atelier Biagetti, which unveiled the Anemona table during Design Miami in December. In Milan, design duo Laura Baldassari and Alberto Biagetti employed a reflective silver glass fiber rippling base, instead of Vuitton’s beige leather, with a yellow lacquered interior. “We wanted to telegraph the idea of an object hailing from the mysterious deep sea, using a material that’s intangible, almost transparent, yet a ‘living’ material,” said Baldassari. Last March, the Objets Nomades collection also traveled for the second year in a row to Art Basel Hong Kong, where the French house previewed its design collection at the former Central Magistracy building, open to the public for the first time.
3) THE ECCENTRIC CASA: Giorgio Armani emphasized how “eclectic and eccentric” his Casa collection was this year, as “a reaction to tradition, mixing things up for a different solution, avoiding a more traditional look.” Showing new designs displayed at his theater, he underscored that there was “no theme, each piece is an island.” To be sure, in the black and darkened theater, each item was strategically lit, placed under special suspended decorations shaped as geometric kites. The effect was highly theatrical. “This is what I wanted to achieve here — the effect is more commercial in the store,” said Armani. In the colors of the collection — light blue, blue, red and pale gold — the aerial creations replicated the shapes of their reference furniture pieces. Although the designer downplayed the Japanese undercurrent, just as he staged an exhibition dedicated to Tadao Ando at the Silos on the opposite side of the street, there was an Oriental iconography — which has long been a source of inspiration for Armani. In a collaboration with historic Italian textiles company Rubelli, Armani presented the Okinawa jacquard of a landscape of hills and trees that vanish in the fog on the Orione bed and the Odaware, a jacquard with kimono and embroidered motifs. The woven textures were inspired by the obi, the Japanese sash worn mainly with the kimono. The Onda chaise longue, whose unusual curve evokes a wave, had a structure upholstered in interwoven leather and with solid wood edges — a celebration of artisanal craftsmanship. The shapes of the tables were clean and bold. The Owen was lacquered with a red stucco effect — “red for good luck,” pointed out Armani, and available in a square or rectangular shape, paired with the geometric Ofelia chair. The Olive table featured geometric legs in metallic dark green lacquer and light satin-finish brass. The new edition of the Riesling cabinet featured a tubular structure and an embellishment on the panels, with a black and ivory resin detailing reminiscent of the ripples that raindrops create on the water’s surface. The Olivia desk was crafted in spotted green shell with brass edges and wavy legs. Finishes were distinctive and included black opal shell mosaics; spotted green shell mosaics; brass metal with an onyx print and golden sea waves lacquer brushed with gold.
4) PEQUIN HOME: In a new approach to its home collection, Fendi teamed again with architect and interior designer Cristina Celestino. “We’ve come full circle,” said Fendi men’s and accessories creative director Silvia Venturini Fendi.“After working for 10 years with emerging designers at Design Miami, we are evolving the collaboration, helping them to become true stars, expanding the production and targeting the market,” marking a new approach for Fendi Casa. The Rome-based company previously worked with Celestino on the “Happy Room” project presented at Design Miami in 2016. Fendi unveiled at its space on Via Solari an installation called “Back Home” displaying the latest pieces designed by Celestino for the house, which will be integrated in the Fendi Casa line and available for purchase.
The collection celebrates Fendi’s Pequin striped motif — a reference to Fendi’s heritage as it was introduced in 1987, the same year the Casa line was launched. This signature pattern is characterized by broad strips in black and brown tobacco colors and Celestino reworked it on statement pieces displayed with an installation recalling a Roman bourgeois house and terrace from the Seventies. The collection combined marbles and onyxes and metallic surfaces showing surprising tactile and color effects. A range of mirrors and lamps reveal silhouettes inspired by cuff links, while the cabinets echo Art Deco stylistic codes, juxtaposing geometric shapes, bold curves and strong vertical lines, with surfaces recalling stardust powder and sunset tones. Coffee tables and carpets were decorated with the FF logo in rose-like designs from Fendi’s archives, designed by Karl Lagerfeld in 1983, where the FF logo is discretely camouflaged. The “Back Home” collection is produced by Luxury Living Group, Fendi Casa’s licensee.
5) THE POET OF BEAUTY: “Simplicity always wins” is the motto that Patrizia Sardo Marras created years ago to ironically describe the exuberant and flamboyant creativity of her husband and business partner Antonio Marras. Once again, the Sardinian designer and artist transformed his Circolo Marras in a maximalist heaven for beauty seekers, who were able to live a full immersion in the kaleidoscopic world of the Marras’ aesthetic. “There is so much going on here, there are so many projects presented together, so we wanted to create a sort of path which starts upstairs with the archival fabric samples displayed at the store and culminating downstairs in the showroom with the set up of the temporary restaurant developed in collaboration with Rana that is like the room of Bell of the ‘Beauty and the Best’.” In between, Marras unveiled wallpaper with Wall & Decò, sofas and armchairs with Saba, pottery with Kiasmo, as well as 11 one-of-a-kind carpets, manufactured by Amini Carpets, reproducing the maps of imaginative cities around the globe. A temporary flower shop opened in the courtyard in collaboration with Tonino Serra was the cherry on top.
6) THE DAYDREAMER: Missoni’s signature color explosion met the childlike, evocative creative poetics of artist Alessandra Roveda in the “Home Sweet Home” project — probably one of the most Instagrammed of Milan Design Week. The artist created a charming, irresistible 3-D house filled with objects and accessories completely done by using the crochet knitting techniques. “About four years ago I bought a chair made by Alessandra Roveda. Then last year I met her and I asked her to do some rabbits for a project I had in mind. Working with her I fell in love with her personality and when I saw the pictures of the house where she keeps all her creations I had the idea for this project,” said Missoni creative director Angela Missoni. “It’s compulsive…she does crochet everywhere, all the time. Alessandra’s color sensibility is extraordinary, she has this incredible irony and lightness and I really like the fact that her creations might look a bit desecrating in the Milan Design Week environment.”
7) FUNNY GAMES: Milan’s intimate, 19th-century Teatro Gerolamo theater showcased the limited-edition design piece Miu Miu developed in collaboration with M/M (Paris) creative studio in an impactful setting inspired by the fashion label’s fall 2018 show. Called “Miu Miu M/Matching Colorstool,” the furniture item was a wooden stool bearing a range of holes to enable customers to playfully customize it with 300 small wood pegs shaped like matches and offered in 12 colors. “Today everything is customizable,” said Mathias Augustyniak, who cofounded the studio with Michael Amzalag. “We wanted a very stable piece of design, but that had the little fantasy that you could make it your own, this kind of contrast between something very delicate such as like putting color matches within holes and the very heavy but frank piece of design.” “It’s nice to embrace contradictions, the minute you put things on the top of this stool, you can’t sit on it…[we wanted to give] the possibility to look at such a simple object in a different way, to engage and spend time with it,” echoed Amzalag, revealing that the duo is working on a retrospective about their work to be held at Musée des Arts Décoratifs in Paris next year. Coming in a dedicated packaging and available only in 300 pieces at the theater and at Miu Miu’s Milanese flagship, each stool retailed at 390 euros.
8) THE ARTY TAKE: For the sixth installment of his textile collection for Danish firm Kvadrat, designer Raf Simons orchestrated a large-scale exhibition called No Man’s Land. The showcase brought together upholstery fabrics; vintage furniture pieces from the likes of Le Corbusier, Mathieu Matégot and Gerrit Thomas Rietveld for Cassina; three life-size cabanons by Jean Prouvé, and a charming cafe by London-based Rochelle Canteen. “The main idea was to create an inspiring landscape, environment.…All design and architecture are specifically chosen to show possibilities to upholster, but to also use the fabric in a different way then the typical furniture upholstery,” said Simons. The latest textiles include Atom, a bouclé fabric inspired by pointillist paintings; a corduroy velour fabric in a range of dusty and bright nuances called Phlox and Novus, a jacquard-woven bouclé bearing a grid-style design inspired by furniture designer’s Jean Royère’s Tour Eiffel series. For the first time, the Kvadrat/Raf Simons includes a selection of cushions.
9) THE HIGH-TECH DISRUPTOR: How the aesthetics surrounding us impact our well-being is something Google got curious about. Vice president of hardware design Ivy Ross explored this theme for the second edition of the tech giant at Milan Design Week. Teaming with architects and scientists, Google created a sensory experience applying neuro-aesthetics. “We did this to be provocative, surprising and to give a self-reflection to show that design matters, meaning we have a choice, design does affect our physiology,” Ross said. Upon arrival, a wristband was placed on and the journey began. After five minutes wandering freely in each — very different — room, a personalized report (with all data immediately deleted afterward) revealed the room where your body felt most at ease according to the bracelet’s measurements of specific physical and psychological responses. The result may not coincide with the room you like the most, and that might be the most interesting part of this experience, getting an insight you might not even be conscious about. “It’s about the merger between art and science, artists have intuition and neuroscience is informing intuition, and if that can help to design more thoughtfully, there’s a partnership,” founder and executive director of the International Arts + Mind Lab Susan Magsamen said.
10) EXPLORING CONTEMPORARY LIFESTYLE: As part of the No_Code project, Tod’s explored the theme of the evolution of the contemporary lifestyle with an installation combining tradition and technology. “The social codes are changing and with this exhibition we wanted to investigate these themes,” said Michele Lupi, Tod’s men’s collections visionary. “We interviewed eight personalities from different fields who elaborated on these subjects.” In the exhibition, the videos — which have as protagonists design duo Formafantasma; illustrator Olimpia Zagnoli; art director and car racer Mai Ikuzawa; entrepreneur Petter Neby; car designer Chris Bangle; astronaut Maurizio Cheli; designer Marcello Gandini, and designer Yong Bae Seok — were unveiled inside eight high-tech shelters, inspired by the traditional ones from various regions, spanning from Mongolia to West Africa.
11) DESIGN FOR GOOD: Marni continues to collaborate with Colombian artisans to develop its collection of colorful, playful furniture pieces and interior design items, which this season were marked by a futuristic space inspiration. “I was thinking about merging primitive design with an idyllic imaginary world, a trip to the moon, a calm and dreamy environment to bring us back to humanistic values and connections,” said Marni creative director Francesco Risso. The collection included coffee tables evoking spaceships, eclectic objects, such as tribal aliens, spaceship-shaped sculptures, animal-like stools, primitive benches, as well as PVC and metal small sofas, rocking chairs and chaise longues. Sales proceeds will benefit an initiative by the charity foundation of Marni’s parent company OTB. This is currently supporting Associazione Heal, which assists child patients at the neuro-oncological ward of Rome’s children hospital Ospedale Pediatrico Bambino Gesù.
12) THE MODERN ARTISAN: Loewe creative director JW Anderson’s fifth project dedicated to Milan Design Week was an exhibition of basketry, hand quilting and calligraphy dubbed “Loewe Baskets.” For the initiative, which highlighted the importance of craftsmanship, the luxury house invited 11 international artists to interpret the theme of basketry by using leather instead of their usual medium — including bamboo, cane, straw and rattan — in their creations, which resulted in a unique series of objects available to purchase. In addition, Loewe has commissioned Spanish artisans to design and manufacture a range of leather goods and accessories inspired by the same theme, which will retail at selected stores and on the brand’s e-commerce site.
13) REDESIGNED ICONS: Longchamp partnered with Japanese studio Nendo to reinterpret its signature Le Pliage foldable tote bag, launched in 1993 by Philippe Cassegrain, who was inspired by the Japanese traditional art of origami. The capsule collection offered three styles, shaped as a cube, a cone and a circle. The cubical style was available in three sizes, the cone and the circle in two, and all coming in a color palette including pale gray, navy, mustard and burgundy. The conical version, which was a limited-edition, was also available in black leather. “We first met the Nendo collective at the Salone del Mobile in 2017 and we were impressed by their design concepts, notably their focus on everyday objects,” said Longchamp creative director Sophie Delafontaine. “I really appreciated Nendo’s absolute respect for Le Pliage’s codes. They offered an entirely new take while preserving the DNA of the original style, including the nylon, the Russian leather, the flap and its foldable feature.” “Even though it was our first collaboration, the project felt very natural from the start, as if we had been working together for a long time,” echoed Oki Sato, who founded Nendo in 2002. “For Japanese people in general and for myself, Le Pliage is the first thing we associate with Longchamp.…I wanted to further enhance its appeal by infusing a Japanese essence into a French brand,” he said, explaining that the circular style, in particular, is inspired by the traditional furoshiki folding cloth.
14) THE MASTER OF WEB: Bulgari set up an installation by Argentinian artist Tomás Saraceno over a 10,800-square-foot space at the Ulrico Hoepli Municipal Planetarium, creating imaginary constellations of complex spiderwebs, including the golden strands woven by the Nephilia Inaurata species the background of the real constellations lit up in the darkened planetarium. “For over a decade, Saraceno has worked closely with arachnologists and astrophysicists to explore the analogy between three-dimensional spiderwebs and the astronomical concept of a cosmic web,” said the company. Bulgari’s rings were displayed in another room suspended on threads that resembled the spiders’ webs. Another installation in the park outside the Planetarium showed the evolution of the B.Zero1 design that celebrates its 20th anniversary this year, whose shape, echoing the Colosseum, has been reinterpreted by the likes of Anish Kapoor and Zaha Hadid. The structure of the installation also evoked the circularity of the ring. Bulgari has pledged to restore the 330 original seats and benches in the central area of the Planetarium paying homage to its architect Piero Portaluppi, whose Thirties style was the inspiration for the brand’s Via Montenapoleone boutique.
15) THE BEST NEWCOMER: Aliita, the jewelry brand founded by Cynthia Vilchez and her husband Giovanni Castiglioni, the youngest son of Marni founders Consuelo and Gianni Castiglioni, left its mark on Milan Design Week with an exciting presentation at its showroom. The space was turned into a professional scientific laboratory where guests could have access only wearing chic shoe covers crafted from high-end nylon and completed by Vibram soles. Vacuum-packed cookies and healthy drinks in test tubes were served, while the brand’s collection dedicated to scientific or natural themes was available for purchase, including charms shaped as tiny vials, robots, daisies or dinosaurs.
16) GOING EAST: Dubai-based but Made in Italy fashion brand Nemozena tapped British artist Liz West for a large-scale installation in Milan’s Piazza Belgioioso during Design Week. The artist’s Aglow artwork comprising 169 half spheres crafted from neon-hued acrylic and reflecting the surrounding buildings, already traveled to Paris’ Musée Nissim de Camondo in September and to the latest edition of Dubai Design Week last November. Aglow represents the first global initiative of a series of art-related projects aimed at supporting female artists, which the company kicked off in 2018. A champion of female empowerment, West’s work reflects the label’s ethos as Gaenaelle Perrot, Nemozena chief executive officer, explained. “One of the major goals of the brand is to showcase the creativity and brilliance of female individuals around the world and the feminine contribution to our contemporary society,” she said.
For more Milan Design Week-related projects: