Like clockwork, April brings with it Salone del Mobile, when the design community migrates to Milan to share new ideas, launch their latest collections and stage elaborate installations. Ever at the ready, the city’s fashion houses turn out in force to put on a show. From Marni’s furniture playland (pictured) to Loewe’s contemporary courtyard, see the fashion brands that left their sartorial mark at this year’s Milan Design Week...
Marni: All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy, as the saying goes. Injecting an element of unadulterated fun to Salone proceedings, Marni transformed its Viale Umbria space into a veritable playland, complete with sand pits, swings and toys galore. Created in collaboration with Colombian craftswomen, the bright collection was made from metal, painted wood and woven PVC cord, continuing with the tradition of craft revival set in previous years. As well as hosting a children’s workshop, proceeds from the sales of the limited-edition pieces are set to be donated to children’s charity Only The Brave.
Hermès: Where last year’s presentation was plunged into dramatic darkness, at this years Hermès’ display it was all about light. The monumental brick pillars were replaced with whitewashed walls, flooded by light from above, allowing the details of each piece to truly shine. Under the watchful eye of co-deputy artistic directors Charlotte Macaux Perelman and Alexis Fabry, the collection – which spanned large pieces of furniture, small objects, modern wallpapers and even porcelain tableware – were suitably sublime.
Hermès: Standout pieces included the leather designs – notably the ‘Groom Attelé’ accessory stand (pictured right) – that nodded to the maison’s equestrian origins. The collection saw the welcome return of woven wicker, which appeared in the form of a bottle rack and in the Diligence Serving Trolley following great acclaim.
Missoni Home: Angela Missoni celebrated the new collaboration with Italian wallpaper purveyors Jannelli e Volpi in a bright and vivid installation off Via Solferino. Using their new wall covering to dramatic effect, the walls of the warehouse space were dressed in the close-up photographic print of Ottavio Missoni’s iconic zig-zag, circa 1969. Adding to the Instagram potential, show-goers were invited to take a poster from the equally decorated plinths spread across the space.
Santoni: The humble sneaker has proved to have great sartorial standing of late, but none have yet had the Toiletpaper treatment. That is, until Santoni invited Maurizio Cattelan and Pierpaolo Ferrari to add their graphic stamp to the otherwise clean and classic essential. For the capsule collection, presented at the Via Montenapoleone store during Salone, the duo decorated the soft, white leather trainers with their colourful, tangled Garden of Eden snakes.
Louis Vuitton: India Mahdavi and Tokujin Yoshioka are the latest designers to join the ranks of Louis Vuitton’s celebrated Objets Nomades crew, alongside the likes of Atelier Oï, Barber & Osgerby, the Campana Brothers, Raw-Edges and Patricia Urquiola. Now in its fifth year, the French fashion house’s homeware collection grew by ten objects, keeping with the limited-edition, travel-inspired tradition previously established. New additions included Mahdavi’s blue leather marquetry table (pictured) which doubles up as a tray, the base closing beneath it like a book; the Campana Brothers’ ‘Bomboca’ sofa, inspired by Botticelli’s cloud and shell for Venus; and Marcel Wanders’ modern rocking chair.
Cos: The fashion label has made immersive (and photogenic) installations their Milan Design Week calling card. Taking over Cinema Arti this year, the brand enlisted London-based design duo Studio Swine to create a tree-like sculpture that blossomed with mist-filled bubbles which burst upon contact with skin but held their spherical shape – if only for an instant -–when caught delicately with the knitted gloves handed over to spectators upon arrival. ‘We wanted to encapsulate a lifespan of emotions in an instant,’ explained Studio Swine’s Azusa Murakami and Alexander Groves, ‘to create an experience that was fleeting, but in its time evoked joy and vitality, if only to remain as a memory.’ A memory and endless Instagram videos, no doubt.
Jil Sander: Never short of amazing, Nendo took over Jil Sander’s showroom with ‘Invisible Outlines’, an exhibition bringing together 16 of the Japanese-based practice’s projects. Alongside the cut-out mountain range, jellyfish vases and Alias coffee tables-cum-bowls, Nendo collaborated with the German brand for a Salone-specific piece also: Objectextile.
Jil Sander: Patterns created by photographing layers of objects suspended inside a cube were used to create a capsule collection including trainers, T-shirts, bags and scarves, available to shop now.
Loewe: ‘I like the idea that fashion can explode into the household,’ says creative director Jonathan Anderson, explaining the origin of ‘Loewe: This Is Home’.
Loewe: Spanning both the decorative and functional, the collection included solid oak pieces – designed by Anderson and manufactured in Yorkshire by Robert ‘Mouseman’ Thompson, the fifth-generation carpenter is known for his signature mouse carvings – as well as blankets, benches and even life-sized woollen figures, displayed as abstract wall art. The recurring star motif appeared on circular wool carpets, and also adorn a small line of totes which will be sold in Loewe stores around the world.
Loewe: Leather, naturally, featured heavily too, in the shape of lampshades, poufs and ‘multi-use sheets’ stacked high on benches and chairs. The latter were inspired by American minimalism, using a metal frame and wicker panels to beautiful effect, dressed up with textured blankets and knitted cushions.
Dolce & Gabanna: Last year’s limited-edition fridges have yet to be completed, but that hasn’t stopped the Sicilian fashion brand and Smeg from following up with a new iteration of their artistic collaboration. Working in tandem with the artist behind the artful fridges, the new collection focuses around small appliances – toasters, juice makers, coffee machines, kettles, blenders et al – to bring a touch of Dolce flair and Gabanna glamour to your kitchen worktop. The week also marked #DGEVOLUTION, an event hosted by the brand to highlight its new approach to retail design. The brand plan to roll out individual retail concepts across its global network, and the architects who will develop these spaces, including Steven Harris, Julien Rousseau and Marco Donati, were on hand at Dolce & Gabbana’s Alta Sartoria space to discuss their unique visions.
La Double J: Is there anything our very own Italy editor-at-large JJ Martin can’t do? It would seem not. La Double J has teamed up with Tuscan ceramic brand Bitossi Home and Varese-based linen producer Mascioni to put on a true maximalist spread.
La Double J: Playing tribute to the Milanese Sciura – haute couture hostesses, if you will the uniquely patterned plates and prints are as bright and bold you would expect from the confident colourist, especially considering that the designs are sourced from the Mantero silk archive, and reimagined by Frank Studio. It turns out more really is more.
Diptyque: French perfumer Diptyque enlisted Italian artist Felice Limosani for its Salone debut. Taking over a decadent chamber in Palazzo Litta, Limosani’s moving sculpture was suspended above a mirror, adding to the intrigue and depth to an already mesmerising proposition. A series of spinning hoops contained one of six new Le Sablier scents, the niche perfumer’s new home fragrance line inspired by the hourglass.
Paul Smith: Seventeen years into their collaboration, Paul Smith and Rug Company still have a few tricks up their sleeve. ‘Stripes are synonymous with me as a designer,’ says Smith, ‘but I wanted to push myself to look at stripes and colour in a different way.’ Looking at opposites, transparencies and over-laying of colours, Smith has designed three new rugs that do just that. Adding a touch of whimsy, the handmade rugs were displayed as flying carpets, having taken inspiration from an early photography experiment of Smith’s father which superimposed him over the Royal Pavilion in Brighton.
Agnona: ‘This collection is an unusual fusion of the languages of fashion and design,’ explains Giovanni del Vecchio, CEO of Giorgetti, who this year teamed up with Agnona to create a collection of bedroom sheets and blankets. Quintessentially Italian, the focus remains as ever on luxury fibres - alpaca, cashmere and camel in this instance - in three contemporary colour ways.
Antonio Marras: Why have one installation when you can do two? That seemed to be the question on Antonio Marras’ mind. Working with the Campana brothers, Marras displayed two luminous works: ‘Bandidos Illuminados’, a set of 35 lamps made from embroidery frames, stitched with the faces of notorious outlaws including Al Capone and Pablo Escobar; and ‘Retratos Illuminados’ which used vintage slipdresses arranged around special lamps conceived with the Campana brothers. Together it looked both poetic and melancholic.
Versace Home: Three new Versace lines made their debut at Salone del Mobile: Le Jardin de Versace, a butterfly-themed extravaganza of pinks, blues and gold; the VM11 Collection, named after the Milanese boutique on Via Montenapoleone 11, with a decidedly androgynous bent of monochrome pieces, offset by moon stone and marble inlays; and Shadov, a new modern chair that places the Versace Medusa at the heart of the home in the most inconspicuous of ways. The latter has the widest colour range, available in a variety of leather hues – revolution red, armée green, cool grey and cloud – as well as a wood iteration.
Fendi Casa: Tucked away across a courtyard of Palazzo Carcassola Grandi, just off the bustling street of Via Montenapoleone, Fendi Casa’s new store is more like a sanctuary than a shop. Add to that a dramatic black backdrop and Toan Nguyen’s latest seating system, ‘Six Shades of Palmer’, positively glows. Marrying minimal design with graphic appeal, the sofa graduates through a variety of powder pink hues.
Roberto Cavalli Home: Taking a seat with the luxurious Italian brand, Roberto Cavalli celebrated the design of its ‘Wings’ chair at its Via Montenapoleone boutique, imagining the shape in five new finishes, including mink and kiddassia fur and teal arapaima leather. The label also debuted a new jungle-themed armchair, its upholstery printed with palm fronds, with the tropical theme also continued across zebra, jaguar and giraffe printed wallpapers.
Birkenstock: Making the leap from feet to sleep, German brand Birkenstock marked Salone with a series of beds. Displayed at Rossana Orlandi and at the Rho fairground, the new ‘sleep systems’ translated the philosophy of the ‘footbed’ for the entire body. With the same focus on health, support and comfort as its contoured shoes – they even employ some of the same materials, like granulated cork and natural latex, mixed in with far softer layers, of course. Replacing the orthopaedic look of the sandals is a more refined and minimal silhouette. Wool felt and saddle leather make these a far more contemporary proposition for the bedroom.
Ermenegildo Zegna: Pelle Tessuta - a woven leather fabric made using micro strips of nappa leather instead of fabric yarns - was the thread running through Zegna’s new accessories range, Zegna’s Toyz. The collection of leather goods includes everything from a valet box to travel games, and even Master & Dynamic headphones. The bag designed by Matteo Thun and the fashion brand for a previous editor of Wallpaper* Handmade bag was reimagined in the new luxury leather fabric, too. As has Peter Marino’s Poltrona Frau Linea A armchair from 2007.
Brunello Cucinelli: Marking its Salone debut – the Via Montenapoleone boutique just opened its doors in January – Brunello Cucinelli used the opportunity to display the contemporary and delicate simplicity the brand is synonymous with. As such, the new S/S 2017 lifestyle collection proved to be as equanimous as its surroundings. Muted tones, warm touches of wood and tactile surfaces made for a serene and artisanal space.
Issey Miyake: Having designed Miyake’s Milanese flagship store, which opened last month, Tokujin Yoshioka returned for Design Week to put on a show. ‘Fountain - Glass Table’ celebrated the skill of Murano craftsmen, who created three-dimensional forms using a single piece of flat glass, transformed and shaped under immense heat. Stood upon plinths in the courtyard behind the store, the figures captured the light and looked as though they might be natural fountains, reflecting light like water might do on a summer’s day.
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