The small, raw space known as Exits Gallery has always operated on the fringes of Milan's design scene. Renegade architect Michele de Lucchi, a founding member of the Memphis movement, who has his four-storey design atelier across the street, traditionally used it for one-off design exhibitions and pop-up events with a cerebral bent. But now, the space has been dusted up and transformed into a full-time lifestyle gallery shop thanks to Connecticut-based furniture designers Craig Bassam and Scott Fellows (see W*169).
'There are certain products we love but couldn't find,' says Fellows, who cut his fashion teeth as creative director at Bally over a decade ago, before launching BassamFellows with his architect partner in 2003. 'So we decided to make them.'
Ten years ago, the duo's first design piece was a winsome four-legged tractor stool crafted from solid timber, and since then they have expanded their offering to lounge, dining, and storage furniture, all of which is now on offer at Exits, the duo's very first retail outlet. Thrown into the mix are lights, glassware and metal objects designed and produced by Produzione Privata, de Lucchi's niche design label.
'The whole idea for us was to have a space we could have fun with,' explains Fellows. 'This isn't a fashion collection, it's not even a collection. It's about individual pieces.'
One such piece is the duo's beautifully crafted Chelsea boot, a model they made for themselves many years ago. After repeatedly being accosted by friends wanting the same shoe, they have now created a range of footwear for both men and women, handmade by a small artisan bootmaker in Le Marche that Fellows discovered while working for Bally. Eyewear meanwhile, was designed in a women's and men's version and is crafted from the boutique producer E.B. Meyrowitz in Paris.
'We'll keep adding things,' says Bassam, referring to the lifestyle objects. 'And if it goes well, then I guess it will become a collection. That's what happened with our furniture.'