Nina Yashar is without question Milan's top design dealer and her Nilufar Gallery in Via della Spiga has pulsed as the epicentre of achingly expensive mid-century gems and the hottest contemporary designs for the last 15 years.
But what goes on behind the elegant windows in the small, well-curated rooms of her famous gallery is only a tiny sliver of Yashar's full design stash. The real booty has been stockpiled over the last 30 years in a 1,500 sq m warehouse north of the Garibaldi train station. Up until now, the ex-industrial space was closed to the public and used just for Yashar's own sourcing purposes. But now she is flinging open the doors for the first time to Nilufar Depot: a three-storey treasure trove featuring 3,000 pieces of historic and contemporary design, conceived by many of the young designers that Yashar has championed over the years.
Designed by Milan-based architect Massimiliano Locatelli (whose furniture she has frequently shown in her Via della Spiga gallery), the interior configuration was inspired by Milan's famous Teatro alla Scala. A central cement floored atrium is surrounded by three storeys of black metal balconies in which small furniture scenes are illuminated by neon lights designed by Marco Rizzuto.
The space is imposing, dramatic and yet practical. The configuration permits an easy scan-viewing of the massive stock from below, while curtains made from a techno-plastic material swathe each stall, just like the booths at the famous ballet theatre. 'I don't like décor as an end in itself,' says Yashar. 'Function is what interests me.' The location, which features a stage with a 6m-tall brass curtain designed by artist Leonor Antunes, has been conceived to host exhibitions, art and artists going forward.
The launch event, a dinner which took place last night at the beginning of Salone del Mobile, featured table scenes designed by Martino Gamper, another Nilufar gallery protégé. Each table was adorned with enormous 19th-century napkins, avant-garde glasses and menus signed by the designer.