Stone Island’s ‘Prototype Research’ exhibition at Milan Design Week is a temple to innovation

At Milan Design Week 2024, Stone Island reveals the latest edition of its ‘Prototype Research’ project, a limited-edition series that pushes fabric innovation to its limits. Here, design director Silvio Rivetti tells Wallpaper* more about this year’s fresco-like installation

Stone Island Protypes Series cape installation at Milan Design Week 2024
Stone Island Prototype Research Series 08 exhibition, which opens as part of Milan Design Week 2024 today (15 April 2024)
(Image credit: Courtesy of Stone Island)

Limited to a run of just 100 pieces, Stone Island’s ‘Prototype Research’ series represents the pinnacle of the cult Italian label’s fabric innovations – a spirit of imaginative technical design which has been at the heart of the company since its founding in 1982. It was then, explains Stone Island’s design director Silvio Rivetti, that the company’s fascination with material began with the discovery of Tela Stella, a hardwearing tarpaulin fabric which provided the foundation of the then-burgeoning outerwear brand.

‘We always say that Stone Island was born almost by mistake,’ Rivetti tells Wallpaper*. ‘[When this] beautiful, but rigid, two-sided and two-tone truck tarpaulin arrived at the company – it was so full-bodied that it had to undergo heavy stone wash procedures to tame the structure of the material. The fabric was called Tela Stella and was the beginning of the brand. That first collection defined the value of Stone Island: the fabric is still the starting point of our creative process.’

First look: Stone Island’s Prototype Research Series 08 exhibition at Milan Design Week 2024

Stone Island Protypes Series cape

The cape, which is made from a linen and fibreglass fabric with ’multiaxial reinforcement’

(Image credit: Courtesy of Stone Island)

Introduced in 2016, the ‘Prototype Research’ series – which provides the focus of Stone Island’s appearance at Salone del Mobile 2024 this week – is akin to a buzzing creative lab, where Rivetti and his team can show off the spoils of their research with techniques not yet scaled-up to be used in ready-to-wear collections. The first edition, for example, was titled ‘Lasering On Liquid Reflective Base’ and saw the brand’s signature reflective jacket coated with ‘thousands of glass microspheres of glasses, hand-sprayed with a resin-based colour and then oven-dried,’ explains Rivetti of the otherworldly process. ’The numerical control laser beam etched the surface of the garment, producing a three-dimensional tone-on-tone effect. It was incredible.’

For 2024, which is ‘Series 08’, the Stone Island team created a linen and fibre-glass fabric, overlaid with what Rivetti calls ’multiaxial reinforcement, needled to a non-woven fabric veil’ (indeed, the series itself is titled the ‘Multiaxial Project’). The result is a distinct, criss-crossing pattern across the fabric, which is designed to evoke the sky and soil, ‘a dreamlike organic landscape reminiscent of a primordial world’. When used on the capes – this season’s chosen garment – Rivetti hopes there is the feeling that they can all be connected together, ‘like a fresco’.

‘The cape style is inspired by the very first Stone Island collection in 1982 – a functional reference to a military garment that could evolve into a tent,’ says Rivetti, who notes that returning to the archive allows his team to instil foundational garments with ’new ideas and evolved technologies’. ’The philosophical thoughts are that each cape can be connected to the other, thanks to the loop system – it [evokes] a feeling of community that is important and strong to us.’

This idea is on full display at the Milan exhibition, which is open to the public this week at the Stone Island showroom on Via Savona. There, aside from the dramatic central installation – whereby 32 of the capes are attached together to create Rivetti’s ’frescoes’ – attendees can also discover the intricate technical processes behind the garments. ’We see the installation as an immersive educational journey through site and sound, that showcases the collaborative spirit and creativity at the heart of the project,’ says Rivetti.

Close up of Stone Island Protypes Series cape

A close up of the cape, where prints are designed to evoke ’a dreamlike organic landscape reminiscent of a primordial world’

(Image credit: Courtesy of Stone Island)

‘Design Week is the most energetic time in Milan,’ he continues. ’To us, it is an occasion to meet collectors, fans of the brand, and people from the design and creative field. We are happy to open the door to our showroom and share our stories, our passion for the product.’

Stone Island’s Prototype Research Series 08 ’Multiaxial Project’ runs from 15 – 21 April 2024 at Via Savona 54, Milan.

Fashion Features Editor

Jack Moss is the Fashion Features Editor at Wallpaper*, joining the team in 2022. Having previously been the digital features editor at AnOther and digital editor at 10 and 10 Men magazines, he has also contributed to titles including i-D, Dazed, 10 Magazine, Mr Porter’s The Journal and more, while also featuring in Dazed: 32 Years Confused: The Covers, published by Rizzoli. He is particularly interested in the moments when fashion intersects with other creative disciplines – notably art and design – as well as championing a new generation of international talent and reporting from international fashion weeks. Across his career, he has interviewed the fashion industry’s leading figures, including Rick Owens, Pieter Mulier, Jonathan Anderson, Grace Wales Bonner, Christian Lacroix, Kate Moss and Manolo Blahnik.