The discreet, almost anonymous street presence of Club Unseen – industrial whitewashed windows and a small neon logo – didn’t prevent the pop-up club from becoming one of the most popular installations of this year’s Fuorisalone. Initially billed as ‘one of the best kept secrets of Salone’, word spread fast and the club created by Arianna Lelli Mami and Chiara Di Pinto, aka multidisciplinary design agency Studiopepe, swiftly became one of the hottest tickets in town. Guests gained entry via a tattoo (sent by post) of the simple circular logo, adding to the intrigue.
‘We wanted to create an exclusive place, an informal refuge away from the usual crowded itineraries,’ explained Di Pinto of the six-room club, which occupied a former late 19th-century warehouse on the ground floor of an elegant historic Milanese property in the Piazza Tricolore neighbourhood. The series of rooms, laid out in linear format to suit the slender footprint of the space, were furnished in furniture, lighting and finishes custom-designed by Studiopepe for the project, combined with classic and contemporary pieces, wallcoverings and elements curated from almost 30 brands including Agape, &Tradition, de Sede, Dedar and Tacchini.
At the heart of the Club, located between two lounge areas was the bar; an illuminated screen that turned the ‘gestures of mixology’ into performance art. Drinks were served via a theatrical horizontal opening that revealed only the white-gloved forearms and hands of the bartenders as they prepared the cocktails with slow, exaggerated mannerisms.
Geometric forms and grid patterns recurred throughout the predominantly pastels and silver space lending a graphic, modern feel – even staff were dressed in matching white dungarees and pink Philippe Model sneakers. However – like the dungarees – there were plenty of retro design references too. In the reception area lacquered ceramic ‘Haiku’ tiles, designed by Studiopepe for Botteganove, featuring a Tetris-like pattern were inspired by ‘the three-dimensional rhythm’ of Carlo Scarpa’s concrete architecture.
The interior also paid homage to the Seventies with one small room totally devoted entirely to a maxi-size sofa as a nod to ‘the performances of the Radical Design movement’ of that decade (currently also being celebrated as part of Vitra’s Night Fever exhibition). Several of Studiopepe’s bespoke pieces offered a sharp 21st-century update of Seventies elements too. Wall hangings appeared in the form of the ‘Talisman – Ultra Talisman’ pieces that combined mirrors and lighting elements with hand-knotted mohair and CC-Tapis fringes. Meanwhile, the Cloud Nine neon tube chandelier for Tecnolux suspended above the maxi sofa, introduced a touch of disco, which many argue was the ultimate expression of Radical Design.
Augmented reality played a part too with animated content available via the Aria app with a variety of visuals viewable on Studiopepe flyers, tailored for social media. If this is the future of Milan installations, we’ll have our tattoos at the ready for next year.
For more information visit the Studiopepe website
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