Salone del Mobile is the sexiest of trade shows (if it even classifies as one). And, despite unfolding some nine miles away from the Duomo—a veritable eternity for certain impatient urbanites—it has managed to transform Milan itself, by spurring the creation of Fuorisalone, the group of events and happenings held in the city proper. It’s become an essential stop for the American design community, which is why it was so exciting for us to produce the inaugural Designers' Guide to Milan Design Week. We hope you, dear fairgoer—whether a seasoned veteran or first-timer—will find the kind of inspiration you crave and deserve—from important product collaborations and introductions to super chic events.
Katy B. Olson
These brands aren’t aiming to sell, but to seduce. Partnering with the hottest design talent is one of their no-fail tricks to creating a collection engineered to perfection.
1 Hem boasts bold-name partnerships with the likes of Max Lamb, Luca Nichetto, Nendo, Philippe Malouin and GamFratesi. This season, the Swedish brand is teaming up with Norwegian designers Anderssen & Voll on the Kumo, a shipping-friendly modular sofa that seats from one to four people. Also on view is the Dolina, a chair crafted with design studio Lucidi Pevere; Nichetto’s Floor Lamp version of his Alphabeta light series; and a new textile collection by Milan fashion designer Arthur Arbesser. (Via Statuto, 8)
2 Wear-and-tear prevention never looked so chic. José A. Gandía-Blasco’s Lipstick lounge chair and table are crafted colorfully in 100 percent recyclable plastic for the new outdoor brand Diabla, an offshoot of the nearly 80-year-old Spanish Gandiablasco design house. (Salone del Mobile, Hall 20, Stand B01-C06)
3 How’s this for a name-check? Patricia Urquiola, Patrick Jouin, Michael Anastassiades, Aki and Arnaud Cooren, Marco Zanuso Jr., Alain Moatti, Rodolfo Dordoni, Shin Azumi, Victoria Wilmotte and Olivier Gagnère are all designing for French furniture house Coedition’s expanded collections. One to watch is Urquiola’s Altay armchair, which is being reimagined this Salone in fabric. (Salone del Mobile, Hall 16, Stand E36)
4 Belgian designer and modular kitchen mastermind Vincent Van Duysen unveils Ratio, a system for Molteni&C’s Dada brand, replete with snack counters, central islands and integrated washing and cooking areas. Also new from Molteni&C is an expansion of Ron Gilad’s Teorema design, a rotating, geometric chest of drawers rendered in canaletto walnut or eucalyptus. (Salone del Mobile, EuroCucina, Hall 11)
5 Seven abstract totems debut from designer Nathalie Du Pasquier in collaboration with ancient (well, by American standards) ceramics producer Bitossi, a Florence-based brand that uses techniques dating to the 1500s. Designed for an exhibit at Camden Arts Centre in London, the ceramic pieces are also stunning evidence of the hundred-plus-year-old company’s rebranding at the hands of art director Christoph Radl. Bitossi will also show a collection designed by the Amsterdam-based Italian design duo Formafantasma. (Salone del Mobile, PAD16, Stand C40)
6 Objects of Common Interest, the New York– and Greece-based design studio that masterminds objects of art and still life installations, is partnering with Matter Made on a new series from its Relativity of Color collection (Via Pietro Maroncelli, 7). The firm also collaborated with Bloc Studios, which debuts three new marble collections—one by Objects of Common Interest, as well as others by Valentina Cameranesi and Nick Ross (Alcova, Via Popoli Uniti, 11/13).
7 A new bathroom concept by India Mahdavi for Bisazza Bagno is the second of the duo's, and it features the Plouf bathtub, Splash sink, and Wow mirror—brightly colored pieces that the architect-designer says "seem to pop out of a comic book." Available in blueberry, strawberry, and pistachio hues, the line is presented against a pinstripe mosaic backdrop. (Via Senato, 2)
8 High-end kitchen cabinet company Snaidero is debuting five different pieces with five different partners: a new kitchen model from Michele Marcon; a design by Paolo Pininfarina; an inaugural kitchen design partnership with designers Alessandro Andreucci and Christian Hoisl; a new iteration of the popular Frame cabinetry collection by Iosa Ghini; and Way Materia, a damage-resistant and antibacterial ceramic finish. (Salone del Mobile, EuroCucina, Hall 11)
9 Dutch designer Julia Dozsa’s Screen Kazimir, created for young Italian brand Colé Design Label, is equal parts work of art and thoughtful tribute. Influenced by, and dedicated to, the Russian avant-garde painter Kazimir Malevich, the metal screen is crafted from elasticated jersey fabric and available in a variety of colors and patterns. (Colé Italian Design Label, Via Olmetto, 1)
For the past 20 years, Marva Griffin Wilshire has helped make household names out of artists and designers like of Satyendra Pakhalé, Xavier Lust, Front, Sebastian Herckner and Nendo—and she’s not stopping anytime soon. Through SaloneSatellite, Griffin Wilshire has channeled her ability to single out the best and brightest into a launch pad for the design world’s next generation of stars.
Before SaloneSatellite, the Salone del Mobile program which recognizes talent among the 35-and-under crowd, the show was out of reach for up-and-coming designers. Strict fair rules limited opportunities for them to participate and there was no dedicated space for emerging talent.
Marva Griffin Wilshire was aware that young designers felt under-represented and under-connected with the career-making manufacturers attending the show—and she made no secret of their frustrations. The Venezuela-born, Italy-made doyenne had moved to Milan in the 1970s to do public relations for what is now B&B Italia alongside the company’s owner-chairman Piero Ambrogio Busnelli. She had also worked for Condé Nast publications—Maison & Jardin, Vogue Decoration, American House & Garden and American Vogue; organized the Incontri Venezia (Fabrics for Furnishing) textile show in Venice; and served on the Architecture and Design Committee at MoMA. Along the way, she befriended artistic talents of all stripes, and of all ages.
When Salone del Mobile expanded its footprint in 1998, a conversation with Griffin Wilshire was top of mind for the show's managing director, Manlio Armellini, who tasked her with leading the charge for young talent. With the opening of a pavilion designated for cultural events, there was suddenly the space—and the commitment—to showcase the work of the next generation of designers.
What seems painfully obvious today—of course design fairs ought to nurture and champion burgeoning talent—was revelatory at the time. The inaugural iteration of SaloneSatellite, which spanned some 55 booths and showcased the work of a hundred designers, was the first platform of its kind. “The creation of SaloneSatellite was essentially a declaration of faith in the creative potential of designers under 35,” says Griffin Wilshire. With their prototype designs on display in SaloneSatellite’s exhibition space, designers could, for the first time, garner the attention of enthusiasts, the press, and perhaps most importantly the manufacturers, which could turn those prototypes into reality.
“At the time, young people really had to knock on doors to find production,” she explains. “There was no Internet, emails or websites—you can imagine how different it was. In addition, no other institution at that time paid attention to young designers.” Today SaloneSatellite’s model is copied all over the world. A more telling marker of success, however, are the 10,000 designers and 270 international design schools who have participated, many of them “big names on the design scene,” says Griffin Wilshire, or the many prototypes exhibited in prior shows have been put into production. To put it simply, exhibiting at SaloneSatellite is a great way to get on the map.
Griffin Wilshire herself has become something of a jewel in the crown of COSMIT ... She recently received the Ambrogino d’Oro, the city of Milan’s most prestigious honor, which recognizes contributions to the city’s cultural life.
Last year, a retrospective celebrated the satellite’s second decade. The exhibit that included an “anthology” of successful prototypes that went on to become best-sellers, as well as a look at the designer participants that underscored the event’s indisputable role as a talent scout—and its organizer’s own enduring vision. Griffin Wilshire herself has become something of a jewel in the crown of COSMIT, the organizer of Salone de Mobile, too. She recently received the Ambrogino d’Oro, the city of Milan’s most prestigious honor, which recognizes contributions to the city’s cultural life. (“Marva Griffin’s passion, dedication and international outlook,” reads the recognition, “have served to make Milan a showcase for amazing creativity, a hotbed and springboard for talented new designers and a point of reference for those hoping to break into the world of design.”)
Of course, designer focus evolves with changing trends, and SaloneSatellite’s young designers are no exception. “I would say that young designers are right now particularly interested in new materials, new techniques, new applications, new functionalities,” says Wilshire. “And of course, they continue to be interested in furniture.” This year’s SaloneSatellite will welcome works from more than 650 artists and designers—more than six times the size of the original exhibition. (The Latin American section of SaloneSatellite will be curated by designers Humberto and Fernando Campana; and the African area will be overseen the Franco-Moroccan designer Hicham Lahlou, founder of the Africa Design Award & Days).
But to hear Griffin Wilshire tell it, the fair, which helps young designers “get a foot on the career ladder,” isn’t unrecognizable from it’s early days. Her focus hasn’t changed. “Every year there are different designers—some very classic, some very avant-garde,” she says. “SaloneSatellite was founded to assist young designers starting their careers to get in touch in an easy way with the world of production. The fact that they were given a space within the main furniture fair of the world offered them this possibility—and besides that, a great visibility to trade operators and press. After 21 years, the goal of SaloneSatellite remains the same.” Some things simply don’t need changing.
While the fairgrounds are the heart of Milan Design Week, the rest of the city is equally pulsing. If you find the plethora of events confusing, you’re not alone. Keep it simple: Salone del Mobile is the formal fair that unfolds at Rho Fiera, at the end of the Metro’s Red Line, while Fuorisalone (fuori means “out of” in Italian) is a loosely organized series of events throughout the entire city. Below, find our top nine picks for heading off-site.
The installation is part of the Ventura Centrale exhibition, located within the warehouses underneath Milan Central railway station, and will be open during the day (with a daytime talk series) and at night (as a club replete with parties and performances). Ventura Centrale will also present exhibitions by Stephen Hürlemann with horgenglarus, Baars & Bloemhoff, Editamateria with Antonio Aricò, Nitto, Asahi Glass, a project by Fabrica with Pierre Frey, Denis Guidone, Franco Mazzucchelli, and EILEEN FISHER presents DesignWork curated by Lidewij Edelkoort. (Via Ferrante Aporti 9-21, venturaprojects.com.)
Also on view is the work of art director Federica Biasi, who invited designer-experts skilled in using varied materials like textiles and glass to make use of Mingardo, one of Italy’s few remaining metal carpentry workshops and its production machinery. The result? “Mingardo Rendez-Vous,” an exhibition that spotlights work by Biasi, Denis Guidone, Valerio Sommella and Dutch designer Mae Engelgeer. Their handmade lamps, bookshelves and wall cladding each embody the workshop’s (and designers’ own) focus on artisanship and technique. (FuturDome building: Via Paisiello 6. Pharmacy building: Viale Abruzzi 42. Loft: Via Donatella 36)
Stalwarts take their place alongside small makers and because its Milan, look out for fashion houses like Marni kicking up the bar.
Last year, Marni’s “Playland” showcased the Colombian artisan–crafted furnishings and accessories on a sandy playground-like structure. The signature PVC is back— but this year’s space is inspired by Las Veredas, or small, urban settlements. The “Marni La Vereda” exhibit debuts baskets crafted of willow stems and branches using a centuries-old technique; a 100 percent organic and textile fiber made from agave; and colorful, loom-woven cotton hammocks. Proceeds benefit a children’s charity in Milan.
Alessi is adding its own tribute—in all its copper glory—to the Salone celebrations marking Achille Castiglioni’s 100th birthday. The AC04 basket will be produced in a limited 999 run, along with the late designer’s Dry cutlery, a 24-piece set, both in a copper PVD finish, and the Bavero mocha set with copper-decorated saucer.
3 De Castelli
Three key pieces—a writing desk, simple wooden stool and elliptical cupboard—make up Mida, the debut from furniture maker De Castelli (known for its high-end work with notables like Xavier Lust, Michele de Lucchi and Ramon Esteve), in collaboration with Martinelli Venezia Studio. Precious metals including iron, brass and copper add luster to the finishes for which De Castelli is celebrated.
Fantini’s AK/25 collection, designed by the late Paik Sun Kim, who drew influence from a unique blend of Oriental philosophy and modern aesthetics, features a minimalist bathroom faucet that swivels to save space. It’s the latest in the Aboutwater portfolio, a partnership between Boffi and Fantini.
Eight decades since it first hit Gerrit T. Rietveld’s sketchpad, the Beugel Stoel for Cassina is finally making its long-heralded debut. The Beugel, which in Dutch means “metal brace chair,” is crafted of laminated wood, painted fiberboard and steel framing. It’s one of the first chairs of its era to boast such a thin metal support, and new engineering means that the piece is now lighter and both the seat and backrest now flow with the sitter’s body.
6 Fritz Hansen
In other blast-from-the-past news, Fritz Hansen will unveil the Pot chair by midcentury modern master Arne Jacobsen. The brand is also celebrating the 60th anniversary of Jacobsen’s Egg, Swan and Drop chairs and revealing new marbles for the Poul Kjærholm (PK) Collection.
7 Kasthall Design Studio
Kasthall Design Studio’s latest collection, themed “Legacy of Tomorrow,” was a labor of love for the brand’s designer Maja Johansson Starander, who, in collaboration with product developers, sketched and experimented directly on the tuft weave.
Inspired by grand architectural statements, Gaggenau’s latest offering, the Vario Cooling 400 Series, is an impressively mix-and-match-friendly, “modular family” of refrigerators, freezers, fridge-freezer combinations and wine climate cabinets.
Vitra brings to life a large installation in the former La Pelota sports arena, curated by Paris-based Austrian designer Robert Stadler, who has collaborated with Hermès, The Noguchi Museum, Carpenters Workshop Gallery and Galerie Perrotin. Vitra also re-releases the three original colors for its Maarten Van Severen Collection and new pigments and woods for the Charles and Ray Eames Plywood Group’s compact chairs, CTM Club Table and Folding Screen.
Handwoven rug maker Nanimarquina debuts Tres Vegetal, which combines hemp, New Zealand wool and felt in a weave replete with imperfectly perfect irregularities.
Led by founders Harriet Maxwell Macdonald and Joanna Bibby, former fellow students at City & Guilds of London Art School, and partner Solenne de la Fouchardière, a graduate of Wimbledon School of Art, Ochre debuts the Moonlight Murmuration Chandelier, an ethereal shape created by a “murmuration of birds in flight,” on view at the Rossana Orlandi gallery at Via Matteo Bandello. The solid glass drops are outfitted with brass caps and illuminated by LED lighting.
Bertazzoni, the northern Italian heritage kitchen brand known for its innovative race-car colors, is coming to EuroCucina with a number of debuts, among them the Master Series Range in stainless steel, Panel-Installed Master Series Dishwasher and Panel-Ready Refrigerator.
Enter Dedar’s sultry, mysterious world of textiles with Rosetta, or, as the brand calls it, “a jacquard with a little bouclé,” which draws its inspiration from secret alphabets; Tiger Mountain, influenced by the Tibetan tiger rugs that skyrocketed to popularity in the West in the 1970s; and Butterfly Revival, a playful pattern reminiscent of kimonos and Japanese prints.