Unno Gallery celebrates the depth and versatility of Latin American design

Roving design gallery Unno brought the work of four Latin American studios to Milan Design Week 2024

(Image credit: Alejandro Ramirez Orozco)

The Latin American design scene has been exploding with talented designers in recent years — a fact that was confirmed by Unno Gallery’s recent exhibition at Milan Design Week 2024. The roving design platform — the gallery is based online but often pops up in locations across the globe — showed the work of four designers and studios that are leading the region’s contemporary design scene: Mark Grattan, Andrea Vargas Dieppa, Estudio Persona and Habitación 116. 

'This year, we brought together four artists from four different countries that unite Latin America as its own universe, through their investigation, cultural and personal portraits and unique use of local materials,' said Unno Gallery founders Maria Dolores Uribe and Laura Abe Vettoretti.


Fold by Estudio Persona

(Image credit: Estudio Persona)

Each of the four designers featured in the exhibition brought with them a distinct point of view. Grattan, who was raised in Ohio but is now based between New York, Mexico City and Brazil, conceived a collection inspired by compartmentalisation — both literally and figuratively. 

From certain angles, the storage tower, desk and wall-mounted cabinet appear to be conventional office furniture rendered in a lacquered shade of chocolate brown. However, each item is embellished with a flared base, adding a surreal twist to the otherwise utilitarian objects. 'This collection is not just about design,' he said. 'It's a story about the simple ritual of putting things away after use, the habitual practice and skillset of organization and how it promotes mental clarity.'


Monolito by Andrea Vargas Dieppa

(Image credit: Andrea Vargas Dieppa)

Grattan’s pieces were displayed on the gallery’s ground floor space alongside pieces by Estudio Persona and Andrea Vargas Dieppa. The former exhibited their ‘Fold’ collection made of bent metal sheets, including a mirror that resembled a wrapped package, and a simple brushed aluminium chair whose seat and back mimicked stacked paper (it had also been paired with a hand-embroidered cotton velvet pillow). 

Andrea Vargas Dieppa, meanwhile, showed a beautifully crafted mirror frame and small stool inlaid with shattered shards of seashells, as well as a low-slung L-shaped daybed made using "ojo de pájaro” wood veneer — a type of varnished birch traditional to Colombia that highlights to pale wood’s natural grain.

Unno Gallery Milan Design Week 2024

Habitación 116 chair and footstool

(Image credit: Alejandro Ramirez Orozco)

The exhibition continued down a tight spiral staircase to a low-lit basement level where Habitación 116 had their Criollo collection. According to the designers, the collection was inspired by Cuban interior designer Clara Porset’s 1947 exhibition at the Aino and Alvar Aalto showroom in Manhattan. The concept posed a series of furniture geared towards apartment living, which Habitación 116 recreated with their own collection of butaque chairs. 

According to the designers, the chairs, which sit low and have a deep recline, represent Porset’s design philosophy by melding rationalist principles with Mexican heritage. Their versions were recreated in materials that range from solid wood to woven textiles, illustrating the depth and versatility of Latin American design.



Habitación 116 chairs

(Image credit: Alejandro Ramirez Orozco)

Laura May Todd, Wallpaper's Milan Editor, based in the city, is a Canadian-born journalist covering design, architecture and style. She regularly contributes to a range of international publications, including T: The New York Times Style Magazine, Architectural Digest, Elle Decor, Azure and Sight Unseen, and is about to publish a book on Italian interiors.