Ron Gilad shows his playful side at Molteni & C's Glass Cube showroom
The days of dull and dreary showrooms are over thanks to a new collaboration by Italian furniture company Molteni & C and Tel Aviv-based artist/designer Ron Gilad. Set in the lush backyard of Molteni's Brianza headquarters, Glass Cube takes the conventions of design salons and quite literally turns them on their head.
The new space is buoyant with humour and creative wit. Stepping into the glass-walled space, Gilad has plastered Arik Levy's 'Hug' couch to the ceiling along with a comely set of panty-hosed legs sporting a shiny pair of Ferragamos.
Ironic twists are everywhere you look. Damien Hirst's spot paintings, for example, have been appropriated with fabric and colour swatches from Molteni's upholstery department, while Gilad's own 'Grado 60°' consoles march right out from the glass atrium and into the central water feature. A long wooden runway, meanwhile, is a showcase of Molteni's greatest hits, including Giò Ponti's 'D.555.1' table and 'D 655' cabinet, and Rodolfo Dordoni's 'Chelsea' armchair among others, all of which have been sawed in half.
Most cheeky, however, is the framed shelving housing over 250 hinges and joints of Molteni furniture - a nod to Hirst's famous 'The Abyss' installation laid with cigarette butts. 'I'm a heavy smoker, so that's a piece that's always been close to my heart,' says Gilad with a sly wink.
The humour is a relief from traditional, straight-laced showrooms. The decapitated pieces, for instance, do a brilliant job of showcasing how finely crafted Molteni's furniture actually is. 'These are things you never see,' Gilad says, gesturing to the foam, wood, and steel layers. 'You don't want to lose the hard-work part.'
A more detailed exploration of that hard work is included in a new film directed and produced by Francesca Molteni, daughter of Molteni & C president Carlo Molteni. The snappy film, with music composed by Fabrizio Campanelli and performed by the Budapest Symphony orchestra, makes magic of an otherwise extremely tedious topic.
Francesca Molteni has also collaborated with Gilad on the final room in the new space: a small theatre where an installation of all-white Molteni furniture is transformed into a chameleonic array of colours and patterns using 3D-mapped projections. The performance was as engaging as any real theatre show, proving that furniture showrooms truly do have the potential to sizzle. Let's hope the rest of the industry catches on to this finely executed trend.