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Contemporary design and artisanal craftsmanship blend in the new project developed by e-tailer Yoox for the upcoming Milan Design Week, which opened Saturday.

Called “Doppia Firma” — “Double Signature,” in English — the project involved 16 artisan workshops and companies located in north and central Italy and focused on the development of different traditional techniques, from Giorgio Vigano’s cabinet-making and Daniele Papuli’s paper working to the embroideries of Pino Grassi Ricami and the alabaster creations of Pisa’s cooperative, Artieri.

Each workshop teamed with an Italian contemporary designer to design and manufacture a special piece, which will be on display at Milan’s Biblioteca Ambrosiana for the duration of Milan Design Week. A selection of the items included in the project, which will be celebrated with an event tonight will be on sale on the e-tailer’s site this summer.

Among the designers taking part in the project, Giorgio Vigna and Matteo Zorzenoni collaborated with two companies located in Murano. Vigna, who has long worked with glass specialist Venini and who expresses his creativity in a range of works, from design objects to jewels, teamed with Murano-based glass master Claudio Tiozzo. Together, they created five bowls crafted from Murrina glass with tapered edges. “We have done more than 20 samples and it took about 25 days to reach the final prototype,” said Tiozzo, who inherited his workshop from his father, Sergio. “The goal was to obtain an ice effect; that’s the reason why the glass is not perfectly transparent.”

Treviso-native Zorzenoni, who is known for his quirky manipulations of materials, collaborated with Murano glass specialist Nason Moretti. The designer and the company worked together on the creation of a set of glass vases featuring Nason Moretti’s signature presence of color inside the pieces instead of on the external faces. “It was easy to work with Matteo since he has a clear vision and tends to simplify the project, which is always the best strategy to obtain great products,” said Piero Nason, president of Nason Moretti, which in addition to producing collections of tableware, vases and lamps, also manufactures for a range of fashion brands.

Among the other designers who participated to the project, Matteo Cibic joined forces with brass specialist Bottega Gadda to manufacture three tables; Marco Zanuso collaborated with fire enamel artisan Gabriella Cabrini to create three table lamps, and Michele De Lucchi used paper artist Daniele Papuli’s skills to create a box made of paper layers in the shape of a cottage.

Here, Federico Marchetti, founder and Yoox Net-a-porter Group chief executive officer, discusses the project and the potential of the e-tailer’s design area.

 WWD: What’s the idea behind the project?

Federico Marchetti: The project was born from the desire of, along with the other two partners, the Cologni Foundation for the Metiérs d’Art, and Living [Italian interior design magazine], to put the accent on Italian excellence. Tradition and innovation, analogue and digital are combined to tell the past and future of our country.

WWD: What is going to be the role of design in the new Yoox Net-A-Porter Group?

F.M.: Design has always been an area of great interest for those visiting since 2006, when it was launched with the goal of becoming a point of interest for those passionate about this world and it will continue to have this role. The search, discovery and buying of design objects represents a unique experience for our users, who very often mix them in their chart with a Marni fashion piece or an art work by [Takashi] Murakami or [Francesco] Vezzoli. Everything happens in the name of a lifestyle where Italianity plays a relevant role, especially in the design business since Milan is its undisputed worldwide capital.

WWD: How do you expect the design business to grow?

F.M.: For us design remains a strategic area to invest in and we expect it to continue growing in the next years. It has been a while since we started working with companies like Fornasetti, Kartell, Cappellini, Zanotta and Fondazione Achille Castiglioni to realize limited editions, as well as dedicated pop-up stores for different brands.

WWD: Are there markets that are more interested in design than others?

FM: The interest on design goes beyond the Italian territory — France, Germany, the United Kingdom, but also farther markets, including the United States, Russia and China, are particularly active in this business area. Italians, who are passionate about table decor, look more for homewear, Americans navigate more gift sections, Russians are more focused on lamps and lighting systems, while British users are interested about barware. The deep Italian connotation of our offering is definitely relevant for international customers who love Made in Italy in all its forms.

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