Milan Design Week, in Italian Time

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Published May 5, 2009

It takes a whole week to recover from Salone del mobile—well, maybe not—but when there’s a long holiday weekend afterward, an Italian reporter sips coffee and reclines in a well designed chair, and forgets his assignments. I’d been hard at work on the Apartamento Everyday Life Objects Shop, so my Salone story comes to you fashionably late, on Italian time.

Wednesday, April 22, began with a few hours spent at the official fairground, FieraMilano. Upon arrival I met up with Raffaella Mangiarotti of deepdesign studio, who was presenting a new lamp, Dandelion, which resembles the flower’s fluffy seed ball. It launched at Tecnodelta, an established nautical lighting company that’s branching out. They had a small white pearl of a booth, among other, slightly cheesy, oversized Euroluce displays. By land or by sea, small was definitely the way to go this year. And the Dandelion is a stunner! MoMA even selected it for their permanent collection.

At Padiglione 8 I met up with Marianne Goebl of Vitra, and cocooned in the lovely set up of their Alcove Highback Sofa. We chatted about Vitra’s new Vegetal chair by Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec, with its plant-like structure made of dyed polyamide, which took the designers three years to perfect, and about the upcoming launch of the VitraHaus, a showroom on multiple floors by Herzog & De Meuron in Weil am Rhein, Germany, which will officially open February 2010. Next stop was Artek to see their new 10-Unit System by Shigeru Ban, based on L-shaped units that can be combined to make a chair. Fascinating concept and product but probably not the most comfortable seat. (LEFT: VEGETAL CHAIR)

At Kkaarrlls. Photos by Marco Velardi

 

I went back into town to check what was happening at our Apartamento Everyday store and waited for Desiree Heiss, one half of innovative French-German design duo Bless to come pick me up and head to the Kkaarrlls show. The show combined pieces from the coursework of 17 young European designers at the HfG Karlsruhe, where Heiss has taught since 2006. And there I met Max Bruinsma, who was the inspiration behind one of the best pieces in the new Apartamento—”Geology of Design,” a conversation on the future of design museums between Deyan Sudjic (London Design Museum), Mateo Kries (Vitra Design Museum) and Alexander von Vegesack (Vitra Design Museum).

The second stop in the evening was a cocktail party organised by Stella McCartney to celebrate Established & Sons‘ presence at Salone del Mobile and their new exhibition, called 5. As you have probably already read everywhere, their installation featured 16 new designs, and four new designers: Jason Bruges Studio, Matali Crasset, Front Design and Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec. At the cocktails I met Munich-based designer Konstantin Grcic and we spoke about his new wood and plastic chair with Plank, the Monza chair. Konstantin was on the run too, so we both left before the other guests, like Anna Piaggi and Lapo Elkann, were getting seated for dinner next to the Established & Sons installation. (LEFT: THE MONZA CHAIR)

I arrived next at Corso Como 10 for the presentation of the improbable collaboration by Zaha Hadid and Brazilian shoe brand Melissa hosted by Studio Franca Soncini, where the lovely Giorgiana Ravizza, who co-runs the studio, was there to greet guests and she introduced me to Franca Soncini for the first time, in person. It was an incredible experiences that made my night—if not the whole Salone week—as coincientally, Heiss was staying at Franca’s place. We all decided to leave and headed over to Antonio Marras’ showroom, where husband and wife publishers Terry  and Tricia Jones were hosting a reception for the Soul i-D book and exhibition. It was happening at the showroom Via Cola di Rienzo 8, which I’m not sure is accessible at all to the public, but if you are in Milan anytime in Spring or Summer, find a good excuse to pop by as the courtyard filled with plants, old bird cages and a mix of wooden and stone tiles is a fine example of a great Milanese best kept secret.

Thursday began with a phone call fromMartino Gamper, discussing plans for his surprise event, an improvised lunch at the Everyday Life Objects Shop. He reassured me that two small camping stoves, a couple of pots and a good knife plus some fresh vegetables and fish from the market would be enough to make everyone happy. At 1 PM I received a second phone call telling me to put on some water to boil and 30 minutes afterwards Martino comes with his bike gang including graphic designer Maki from A.B.A.K.E. and artist-girlfriend Francis Upritchard. We all got to work, washing asparagus, peeling ginger roots and cleaning fave beans, and in no time lunch was getting cooked. The space was filled by at least 30 people who were probably expecting some sort of building furniture performance, but were still happily surprised and delighted by the free lunch. Amongst them the Italian Rolling Stone magazine’s Editor-in-chief and man about town Carlo Antonelli. (LEFT: AT KKAARRLLSS)

To be continued…