Apr 24, 2014

iSaloni 2014. 10 questions for 20 designers

For some time now we’ve been seeing an increasing use, alas, of the so-called Proust Questionnaire, i.e. a rapid-fire series of queries as brief as they are trivial on the personal preferences of more or less well-known people: What do you eat on Sundays – Which book are you reading – Briefs or boxers? Convinced instead that real debate can still be a structural element of design criticism, we decided to ask 20 Italian designers about a number of complex issues.

Why Italian? Because in this historical moment it is absolutely necessary to provide an indication that Italian design is alive and well, not only as a production hub but as a creative one. Why 20? Because that’s a sufficient number to include new masters and young disciples, men and women.

So, to verify whether there has indeed been a sort of generational passing of the baton, we talked with:

A-serieAntonia Astori - Paolo Rizzatto - Aldo Cibic - Rodolfo Dordoni - Antonio Citterio


Ferruccio Laviani – Piero Lissoni – Carlo ContinLorenzo Damiani – Paolo Ulian


Giovanni Levanti – Fabio Novembre – Gabriele Pezzini – Donata Paruccini – Giulio Iacchetti


Angeletti Ruzza – Odoardo Fioravanti – Nicola De Ponti – Luca Nichetto – Ivano Vianello

Each was asked the same ten questions and we can perhaps already draw a preliminary synthesis from the rich and complex material assembled in approximately 15 hours of conversation.

To the first question on the distinguishing features of Italian design, the great majority of our interviewees responded by underscoring the different, more depersonalized relationship between designer and manufacturer. But despite this, as the second question reveals, the role of Italian design continues to be that of demonstrating an exceptional quality of thought and execution.

Globalization, the topic of the third question, has affected the job of the Italian designer more in practical terms (eg. having to constantly travel) than in methodological ones. It therefore becomes possible to talk about ‘Italian design‘ in terms of geography when examining the responses to the fourth question. Because even when the designer is foreign, Italian manufacturers nevertheless manifest a certain ‘Italian-ness’ in their way of working.

As for the relationship between master and student, the topic of the fifth question, none of the interviewees indicated a linear relationship with any single master. One could say that the ‘master’ is Italian design in its entirety, a unitary model built on the sum of its virtues and differences.

When talking about the relationship with manufacturers, subject of the sixth question, the responses give a clear feeling on the part of all 20 designers that the ‘marriage’ that once bound a father (the designer) to a mother (the manufacturer) has pretty much dissolved. As for design trends, topic of the seventh question, it’s evident to all that there is no universally acknowledged trend today, which is a good thing for most, but rather a multiplicity of trends, all of which are interesting to varying degree. Noteworthy among them is self-production, object of the eighth question. All the participants correctly define it as ‘self-construction’, recognizing the extent to which this phenomenon represents a way to blow off steam in this economically stagnant moment, but which certainly can never be the ultimate goal of an industrial designer.

Responding to the ninth question, there is unanimous agreement on the absolute centrality of the Salone del Mobile in the  global panorama. A status that is often speciously challenged, but that will continue to be upheld in the future thanks to the direct connection between the city of Milan and the surrounding territories, where design is conceived, engineered and produced as in no other region.

The tenth and final question is about the works presented during the 2014 edition. The majority of our interviewees preferred not to respond, reminding us that, more than the number of pieces or their individual merits, what matters is the overall quality of them all.

The curators, Marco Romanelli and Paolo Bocchi, with director Francesco Imperiato and the whole troupe, thank these 20 designers who made themselves available during this especially hectic period, and propose some brief excerpts of the interviews on YouTube.


The project will actually continue into the future, with the aim of building up an archive of contemporary Italian design.

Marco Romanelli, designer and critic, has been for several years at the helm of the Osservatorio Internazionale delle Tendenze (‘International Trend Observatory’) for Cosmit. He is also coordinator of the ‘Nuovi Maestri’ (‘New Masters’) series of interviews for the magazine Inventario.

Paolo Bocchi. Born 64, Gemini, Inter fan, Architect, Scribbler, TV Author, Consultant for advertising agencies, Ideas Pusher, Boxer.

Apr 17, 2014

iSaloni 2014. 8 architects, 8 homes, 8 stories

1.-copertinaWhere Architects Live is the diary of explorations and a foray into the private spaces of Shigeru Ban, Mario Bellini, David Chipperfield, Massimiliano and Doriana Fuksas, Zaha Hadid, Marcio Kogan, Daniel Libeskind and Studio Mumbai/Bijoy Jain.

The volume, published by Corraini Edizioni, also tells the story of the exhibition designed for the 53rd Salone del Mobile and produced by Cosmit.

Apr 15, 2014

iSaloni. One last goodbye

During the Salone, Massimo Morozzi passed away. Cosmit remembers him with the words of Marco Romanelli.

1.-massimoRemembering Massimo.

For someone who spent their entire life dedicated to design, passing away during the Salone del Mobile is surely a sign: Massimo Morozzi left us on Thursday, April 10.

There to bid him farewell on Saturday were his many children, grandchildren, friends and of course Cristina. Massimo would have liked this serene goodbye, everyone eating and drinking and feeling like a community. In the end, Massimo remained a true rebel.

While many comrades from the radical Florentine movements of the late 1960s had either gone bourgeois or quit, he continued to propose a different model, whether in his own designs or choosing, as art director, others to design.

His idea of beauty was absolutely unique, and some of the less transgressive among us took it for ugliness, but he pursued his vision with courage and obstinacy. Years ago, something of this peculiar beauty had migrated to his physical appearance, which I would describe as Mephistophelian. But he was a good Mephistopheles, a curious Mephistopheles, capable of masterpieces like the “Bibì e Bibò” bunk bed for Driade in 1983, like the “Tangram” table for Cassina, also in ‘83, like the “Pasta Set” pan for Alessi in 1985. Masterpieces that grew, as anyone who knew him can attest, directly from life: lots of kids to put to bed, lots of friends for dinner and lots of pasta to drain.

Massimo was also responsible for the masterpieces of others, particularly of the extraordinary story of Fernando and Humberto Campana for Edra: what would the Brazilian brothers have done without him? What will we ourselves do now without him?

Perhaps we’ll go back to designing those too-perfect things that got on Massimo’s nerves. Because he knew that imperfection is part of life, it is life! Let’s try to remember that.

Ciao Massimo, buon viaggio!

Marco Romanelli

2.-driade(Massimo liked the picture above a lot! Ndt.)

Apr 15, 2014

Saloni 2014. Even better than expected

2.-brindisiThe 53rd edition of the Salone del Mobile has closed its doors.

Once again, Milan has shown itself to be the greatest international showcase for furniture and design, and to know how to focus the world’s attention on the event that has always been the most important in its sector in terms of creativity and innovation.

Excellence wins again, the result of a joint effort aimed at achieving the highest quality, production and research. The numbers of this year’s successful edition are well above expectations: +10% of total visitors and +13% of design and furniture professionals for a total of 357,212 visitors, 311,781 of whom operators.

The value of the work presented at the Salone del Mobile was appreciated by visitors from more than 160 countries, and by the Italian government, represented by Prime Minister Matteo Renzi who visited on 11 April, expressing gratitude for the know-how on display and affirming that this sector is an extraordinary example of a dynamic Italy, capable of overcoming difficulties and relaunching its business culture.

2.-salone2014 also saw the introduction of a program involving more than 100 students from the city’s design schools located in strategic points around town to welcome visitors and provide information. The project, in collaboration with the City of Milan and the Fashion and Design Commission, showed a city prepared to receive and entertain large numbers of visitors, a positive sign as we approach Expo 2015.

Once again Milan was able to offer beauty, opportunities to exchange ideas, cultural stimuli and industrial excellence which together constitute proof of a healthy and capable chain of production. The legacy of your masters was therefore not only honored, but cultivated and nurtured.

Thanks for being with us.

Apr 12, 2014

SaloneSatellite 2014. Towards the craftsmanship of the future

1.-post-blogTo the patient visitor with a curious eye, the pavilion dedicated to the youngest designers invariably holds interesting surprises.

The by now almost necessary practice of self-construction is increasingly prevalent. Indeed, the official theme of the SaloneSatellite 2014 is ‘Design, Innovation + Craftsmanship‘.

Artisanal production and self-construction have much in common – limited series, refined finishes, personal expression and, from the designer’s standpoint, the main pathways for starting out in the world of design.

The SaloneSatellite was created to showcase the often artisanal or self-produced prototypes of emerging designers in the context of the Salone del Mobile proper, where all the most important manufacturers in the world spend their most exciting week of the year.

In this period of ‘new craftsmanship‘, fueled perhaps by the economic crisis, perhaps by the natural evolution of a new generation of designers who place great value on know-how, a new kind of artisan is emerging, one who knows not only how to use his hands and tools, but computers and machinery as well. In short, an evolution from manual craftsmanship to digital craftsmanship.

2. dossofioritoPaolo Ulian, a young designer wise beyond his years, provided us with an illuminating reflection just today: we all know that the world of photography was revolutionized by digital technology, just as the world of design is transforming. Today everyone is potentially a photographer thanks to portable, affordable tools that are universally available, and consequently the technical and artistic ability of the traditional photographer risks being lost or unrecognized. Does this mean, Ulian asks, that the ease of the digital design and production of 3-dimensional objects for every purpose is perhaps putting into question the role of the designer?

The late 19th-century Arts & Crafts movement was born in response to revolutionary new production methods, which did not, however, coincide with artistic and social qualities.

While this debate is just getting underway, we continue to have faith in the young designers of the SaloneSatellite, for whom there are still many typologies to invent, and whose mission remains the same as ever: to design our future.

Best of luck!

SaloneSatellite, Pavilions 13 and 15

Salone del Mobile.Milano

Milan Fairgrounds, Rho
8 / 13 April 2014
Open to the public every day, free admission

Apr 11, 2014

Salone 2014. Exploring the Classics

Visiting the Classico pavilions is like a fairy-tale voyage. Or rather, a voyage inside a fairy tale.

2.-post-blogThe manufacturers displaying the results of their latest efforts in Pavilions 1 through 4 have succeeded in transporting the visitor to faraway worlds.

Strolling through the avenues of this ‘expo city‘, built expressly for this annual April appointment, you can recapture what it’s like to see through the eyes of a child. You can let yourself be transported by the magic of the stands, eyes wide open, allowing the products on display to bewitch and intrigue the child that lives within us all.

This, in the end, is what the Classico is meant to do: fulfil the most secret desires of clients from all over the world. Thus, as if moving from one dream to the next, we find bathtubs in rock crystal, bedrooms with cabinets in the form of enchanted castles, dining rooms worthy of Versailles, closets fit for a princess getting dressed for a ball, delicate white peacocks that inhabit new wonderlands, gilded mirrors that reflect the souls of today’s Snow Whites, big soft beds that exude expectation.

1.-post-blogExploring the stands of the Classico, everyone can find everything.

It’s no accident that here, the cell phones buzz with languages and dialects ranging from Tuscan and Venetian to Russian and Arabic. Classic, but contemporary.

Classic, Pavilions 1-2-3-4

Salone del Mobile.Milano
Milan Fairgrounds, Rho
8-13 April 2014
Open to the public Saturday and Sunday

Apr 10, 2014

Salone 2014. The bath becomes room and spa

The space of the bathroom, increasingly cozy and domestic thanks in part to the influence of the adjacent furnishings, tends to mutate into a little spa, definitively leaving behind that patina of austerity that derives from assigning to it a merely functional role, a space where one quickly conducts one’s private business without the barest minimum of narcissistic enjoyment.

1.-bagnoToday, ceramic bath fixtures, though far behind furniture, is discovering a less frigid, more narrative dimension, to the extent that we are witnessing the diffusion of color, patterns and rich materials for every surface.

In Hariri&Hariri’s Crystalline collection for Rapsel, they seem to pursue a mineral organicism, almost recalling the words of Gio Ponti, ‘Architecture is a crystal‘. Tactile and material sensations, until recently prohibited, enter the realm of the bathroom, as we see in Dressage by Ambrogio Matteo Nespoli and Alberto Novara for Graff.

Memory is at the forefront in the re-proposals of the classic bathroom from companies which historically had similar products in their catalogues, a phenomenon much like the aforementioned furniture re-editions, or designed from scratch while still adhering to this theme. Nendo, for example, with Lampshower, designed for Axor, incorporates light into a nostalgic structure.

2.-bagnoA return to the past that doesn’t exclude the dimension of play, as in Cook, a particularly successful high faucet by the young emerging group Sovrappensiero for Mamoli, which seems to emphasize the detail of a garden hose.

A general overview that doesn’t exclude signs of a minimalism with functionalist roots that endures but becomes very controlled, almost tending to absolutism, as in Jasper Morrison’s Bonola washbasin for Ceramica Flaminia.

This and much more in Pavilions 22 and 24!

International Bathroom Exhibition, Pavilions 22-24
Salone del Mobile.Milano
Milan Fairgrounds, Rho
8-13 April 2014
Open to the public Saturday and Sunday

Apr 9, 2014

Salone 2014. The kitchen: hi-tech yet warm

The kitchen has replaced the living room in revealing a homeowner’s status. A space that has always been functional, yet oriented toward the future, using the vanguard technologies of its time and for this reason immune by definition to re-editions, although even this sector is not without the occasional vintage reference.

1-cucinaThe sink of Giuseppe Bavuso’s Soul for Ernestomeda, however, is immediately ‘compensated’ by an innovative technique of ceramic microsphere coating on the doors, while the solid wild walnut and Venetian oak of the Austrian company Team7 is combined with a countertop in concrete.

There is no playfulness in the kitchen, nor allusions to the style imported from self-production so widespread in the pavilions of the Salone del Mobile. The kitchen remains sober and at the same time luxurious, with expanses of impeccable, increasingly frequent materials that range from precious woods to non-scratch/non-stain metals to rare marbles and stones.

2.-cucinaThe classic Vela by Dante Bonucelli for Dada is made in eucalyptus wood with horizontal grain. G.V. Plazzogna chooses aluminum with a titanium coating for Lucrezia 22 by Cesar. Gabriele Centazzo of Valcucine uses 100% recyclable glass for the bases of Artematica, in keeping with the ethos of ecosustainability.

An innovative trend emerges clearly above all others in 2014: many companies are attempting to move beyond the usual distinction between ‘country’ and ‘modern’, proposing instead ‘Sinetempore’, a clearly visible style that appears once again at Valcucine, who combine artisanal techniques like engraving, intarsia and pyrography with an overall contemporary image.

In short, in today’s kitchen it seems obligatory to blend the warmth of the past with the efficiency of the future. An orientation very similar to the food design leading up to Expo 2015, which combines regional cuisines with molecular gastronomy.

EuroCucina, Pavilions 9-11 and 13-15
FTK (Technology For the Kitchen), Pavilions 9-11
Salone del Mobile.Milano
Milan Fairgrounds, Rho
8-13 April 2014
Open to the public Saturday and Sunday

Apr 8, 2014

Salone 2014. From luxury to simplicity

If luxury has predominated for years in furniture construction and materials, today we are seeing a trend towards a frugal use of resources that represents the birth of a new style, ‘pauperism’, not the only progeny of the crisis we continue to face, and sire of a new ethos of chaste, sometimes severe product design, moderate in the adoption of figurative referents.

1.-tendenze-saloneDesign become elementary and structure simple in the work of Daniele Bortotto and Giorgia Zanellato, two young veterans of the SaloneSatellite who present La Serenissima for Moroso, a seating collection inspired by the high waters of Venice that echoes the raised gangways used to combat flooding, upholstered with moiré fabrics made by Rubelli.

A ‘dietary regimen’ that design seems to have imposed on itself, focusing on the functional and translating into lightweight, exposed frames and thinner padding, as in the Casablanca sofa by Baldessari&Baldessari for Adele C or Zinta by Lievore Altherr Molina for Arper, Bench System by Francesco Rota for Lapalma, and Sabal by Matteo Nunziati for Coro.

Minimalism, eternal by definition, finds new vitality in the wake of this ‘pauperist’ trend. One need only look at the Anin stool by the young Spaniard David Lopez Quinoces for Living or the Orfeo bed by Ferruccio Laviani for Lema. There’s space as well for ‘Alpine design’, furniture that a shepherd might place in his hut, conjugated in solid wood dowels with exposed joints, or in milking stools upholstered in fabric or hide paired with soft sofas like Popit by Analogia Project for Frag, or the Nepal armchair covered in curly Mongolian sheepskin by Paola Navone for Baxter, or the Peg endtables by Nendo for Cappellini.

2.-tendenzeA rediscovered simplicity that nevertheless leaves room for dreaming, as Piero Fornasetti taught us. Likewise Ugo La Pietra, renowned confabulator, has designed for the small Piemontese company Barel a bed and mirror in wrought iron that resides somewhere between ‘Alice in Wonderland’ and ‘The Addams Family’; Front presents Loop Mirror from Porro; London designers Fredrikson Stallard, discovered by Enrico Astori for Driade, seem inspired instead by ‘The Lord of the Rings‘ with the glass top of their Sereno endtable resting on giant nuggets of gold; Jaime Hayon proposes wall-mounted gold masks for Bosa; Patrizia Pozzi, daisy tables for Serralunga; Jake Phipps, a bird cage lamp with a golden bird, Tweetie, for Casamania; Philippe Starck, the Aunts&Uncles collection for Kartell; Fernando & Humberto Campana, the Bastardo sofa for Edra.

The desire for distraction and uninhibited spatio-temporal incursions for a design that becomes narrative, as in Gabriele & Oscar Buratti‘s Akim for Gallotti&Radice, a set of tables with bases in colored ‘diamonds’; Archer Humphryes with the After Adam from Fratelli Boffi; Laudani&Romanelli for Valsecchi 1918 with the overlapping volumes of wood of the endtable Fairy Tales.

3.-tendenzeThe phenomenon of re-editions continues, bringing back masterpieces of the past to the spotlight, or inspiring new production. But material the real star of 2014. Kartell celebrates transparency through its last 15 extraordinary years, but there is also a predilection for dense materials like ceramic, or porous ones like cork and concrete. In the Brushstroke collection by Nendo for Glas, the glass slab is ground to the point of obtaining a stone-like effect.

Chromatic trends are topped by copper, in shades of pink and violet (Radiant Orchid, Pantone 18-3224, is the color 2014), or oxidized in colors ranging from petroleum green to the various tones of mold, fungus and mud.

Technique on display to emphasize the specificity of each object, which can become vibrations generated by the dense repetition of structures in wire, or obsessive stitches embroidered onto cushions, chairs and carpets, as in the Canevas collection by Charlotte Lancelot for Gan Spaces, but also a formal tension towards a style that recalls self-production, a cultural phenomenon of central importance and the theme of the SaloneSatellite for the second year running, conditioning the look of the objects of the production chain, like the Numero 3 lamp by Patrizia Bertolini for Horm.

4.-tendenze-2014Intimist design for the Mad Chair by Marcel Wanders for Poliform and the Manda chair by Patrick Jouin for Gruppo Industriale Busnelli, which seem to respond to the desire for refuge.

What do you think?

Salone del Mobile.Milano
Milan Fairgrounds, Rho
8-13 April 2014
Open to the public Saturday and Sunday

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