Cabana mood: Martina Mondadori on Design Miami/ Basel and Design at Large

The annual Design at Large programme
For this year's Design Miami/ Basel, Cabana editor-in-chief Martina Mondadori was invited to curate the latest instalment of the annual Design at Large programme, as well as contribute a graphic makeover of the fair’s identity.
(Image credit: Michael Ainscough)

Until two years ago, Martina Mondadori was mainly known as the heiress of her family's editorial empire. Born and bred in Italy, Mondadori comes from the illustrious family owning the eponymous publishing house, of which she now sits on the board.

Publishing, it seems, is second nature for Mondadori: following a degree in philosophy from Milan’s state university, since 2006 she has been involved in various editorial projects, such as the Cultural Content Factory, which she founded ten years ago, specialised in the creative and editorial direction of projects related to art, book publishing and design, subsequently working for Italian magazine Tar before founding Anew, an editorial platform mixing contemporary art and fashion.

But it is in 2014 that her name became more clearly associated with art and design publishing, when she founded Cabana, a visual periodical she launched in collaboration with German creative director Christoph Radl. Structured like a chunky visual journal, the quarterly publication gathered Mondadori’s visual world and presented it through a collection of tableaux, illustrations and essays on art and design. This move was inspired by her own love of collecting, and observation of contemporary craftsmanship which she distilled into what she describes as a very specific visual universe.

This year, the Cabana universe collides with Design Miami/ Basel, as Mondadori was invited to curate the latest instalment of the annual Design at Large programme as well as contribute a graphic makeover to the fair’s identity. 'Rodman [Primack] was one of the first supporters of Cabana,' says Mondadori. 'He admired its diversity and how it offered a nostalgic aesthetic element in a world where conceptualism seems to be the rule.'

The eclecticism behind Cabana is very telling of Mondadori’s own collecting attitude: 'I have always been interested in different arts and crafts, and mixing important pieces with flea market finds.' Mondadori collects painted ceramics from Central America and Eastern Europe, and Italian design from the 40s and 50s, Giò Ponti and stil novo. From her contemporaries, she admires the works of similarly eclectic souls: Martino Gamper, Dimore Studio and Bethan Laura Wood, designers that are very representative of what she calls the 'Cabana mood.'

A Design Miami/ Basel initiative now in its third year, Design at Large offers an oversized point of view on design. Previous curators focused on temporary structures and what goes on inside of them, and for this third edition, Mondadori decided to give the show a change of scenery. Her selection focuses on the outdoors; she developed the theme of Landscape in collaboration with Primack and invited galleries and designers to explore this theme.

'Historically, architects have always been attracted to gardens and parks,' she explains, citing ancient Greek gardens and 19th-century English follies. 'I loved to see the diversity of the projects we commissioned, rich of formal and creative ideas.' The selection ranges from Ron Arad’s Armadillo Tea Pavilion to Dimore Studio’s leafy veranda, presenting the duo’s debut outdoors collection. There is Kengo Kuma’s abstract Owan structure, merging abstract forms with architectural thinking, and Kiki van Eijk’s 'Civilised Primitives', a collection of bronze objects that explore primitive survival in a modern world.

'Both Cabana and Design Miami/Basel are concerned with environments and living spaces,' says Mondadori. For her, she explains, what is most interesting about merging these two aesthetics is to create a break and a strong contrast. 'In a way, Cabana represents the exact opposite of Design Miami/ Basel: aesthetic vs form, decoration vs concept. Combining them is the most interesting challenge!'

The eclecticism behind Cabana

The eclecticism behind Cabana is very telling of Mondadori’s own collecting attitude, which is the same charm she channeled into her visual identity for the international event (pictured).

(Image credit: Michael Ainscough)

A collection of tableaux

Structured like a chunky visual journal, the quarterly publication (pictured) gathers Mondadori’s visual world and presented it through a collection of tableaux, illustrations and essays on art and design

(Image credit: press)

Lake with tree and room with flower vase

I have always been interested in different arts and crafts, and mixing important pieces with flea market finds,' explains Mondadori. Pictured: a snapshot of Cabana

(Image credit: press)

The theme of landscapes

For this year's Design at Large, Mondadori decided a change of scenery was needed. Her selection focuses on the outdoors, and the theme of landscapes, including Ron Arad’s Armadillo Tea Pavilion (pictured) presented by Robbie Antonio's Revolution Precrafted Properties.

(Image credit: James Harris)

Owan structure

Kengo Kuma’s abstract Owan structure (pictured), merges abstract forms with architectural thinking, while Dimore Studio’s leafy veranda presents the duo’s debut outdoors collection. Presented by Galerie Philipe Gravier.

(Image credit: James Harris)

Decoration vs concept

Mondadori (pictured) concludes, 'in a way, Cabana represents the exact opposite of Design Miami/Basel: aesthetic vs form, decoration vs concept. Combining them is the most interesting challenge'

(Image credit: press)

INFORMATION

Design Miami (opens in new tab)/Basel runs from 14–19 June 2016. For more information, visit the website (opens in new tab)

Rosa Bertoli was born in Udine, Italy, and now lives in London. Since 2014, she has been the Design Editor of Wallpaper*, where she oversees design content for the print and online editions, as well as special editorial projects. Through her role at Wallpaper*, she has written extensively about all areas of design. Rosa has been speaker and moderator for various design talks and conferences including London Craft Week, Maison & Objet, The Italian Cultural Institute (London), Clippings, Zaha Hadid Design, Kartell and Frieze Art Fair. Rosa has been on judging panels for the Chart Architecture Award, the Dutch Design Awards and the DesignGuild Marks. She has written for numerous English and Italian language publications, and worked as a content and communication consultant for fashion and design brands.