It’s spring in Milan, and that means it’s the time of the year when thousands of creatives descend upon the city for Salone del Mobile, aka the world’s largest design show. Milan’s empty warehouses, ornate palazzos, and new exhibition spaces welcome the worlds of art, fashion, architecture, and design for a myriad of presentations, installations, and exhibitions. Countless fashion houses, including Loewe, Dior, and Versace, showed off their latest endeavors in the design category, while Milan’s most esteemed design studios, like Kartell, B&B Italia, and Cassina, presented their newest projects. This 2019 edition of Salone del Mobile saw a number of events that brought together the intersection of technology, science, and design, as presented by the likes of Bulgari, Lexus, COS, and more. Nature was another prevailing theme, with designers looking at things like water and flowers for inspiration. The week also brings together legendary names and emerging talent from institutions such as the Design Academy Eindhoven. Rife with blockbuster collaborations as well as experimentation, Salone del Mobile is a window into what’s next in furniture and design. Here, a few of the week’s brightest stars spotted around town.
Loewe marked its fifth Salone del Mobile exhibition by giving the age-old craft of basket weaving a contemporary spin. The Spanish fashion house invited 11 artists, including Jennifer Zurick, Yoshiko Ichinose, and Jiro Yonezara, either to use leather in place of bamboo, rattan, cane, and straw to create a new take on the basket, or to put their own traditional techniques, like calligraphy, to textiles. In addition, Loewe commissioned the Spanish artisans Alvaro Leiro, As Redeiras, and Idoia Cuesta to make a line of bags, accessories, and charms for the Salone del Mobile presentation.
Bulgari x Tomás Saraceno
Bulgari took over 11,000 square feet of the Indro Montanelli Public Gardens, presenting two installations at the intersection of design, art, and science. The Italian luxury label showcased the Argentine artist Tomás Saraceno’s delicate spiderweb works inside the Civico Planetario Ulrico Hoepli for an exhibition titled "Weaving the Cosmos," while celebrating the 20th anniversary of Bulgari’s iconic B.zero1 design by showcasing the rings in an illuminated tunnel in the planetarium’s surrounding gardens.
COS x Mamou-Mani
COS returned to the courtyard and gardens of Palazzo Isimbardi once again, this time teaming up with Mamou-Mani Architects on an installation created with 3-D-printed bricks made from the compostable bioplastic PLA. Arthur Mamou-Mani said he wanted to evoke “a feeling of lightness, porosity…something that also feels a little natural, bringing nature inside the courtyard.”
Versace Home went back to its roots, setting up the label’s 2019 Salone del Mobile presentation inside the Versace Palazzo, calling on two creatives, the Canadian artist Andy Dixon and the American interior designer Sasha Bikoff, to help bring the new collections to life. Bikoff created a candy-colored tropical fantasy furnished in Versace Home, while Dixon made enormous shirt sculptures decorated with his own version of Versace’s flamboyant prints. Upstairs, Versace Home exhibited its latest collections of furniture and tabletops, as well as a new lifestyle line complete with Versace skateboards, dumbbells, and kettle bells. Who says working out can’t be luxurious?
Tadao Ando: The Challenge at Armani/Silos
“I chose Tadao Ando for the sense of purity in his architecture, his meticulous use of materials, and his dialogue between water and light, that, even in heavily crowded spaces, reminds us that nature is never far away,” wrote Giorgio Armani about the Japanese architect Tadao Ando, whom he commissioned to create the Armani/Silos exhibition space, which is also the location of a survey of the starchitect’s work that’s on view until July 28. The Ando retrospective showcases the master of minimalism’s blueprints, maquettes, sketches, and more from various projects, including his 9/11 Memorial proposal, his models for the art-filled Naoshima Island, and his plans to convert Paris’s Bourse de Commerce into the new home of the Pinault Collection.
Knoll x Bauhaus 100th Anniversary
Salone wouldn’t be complete without a tribute to the 100th anniversary of the Bauhaus, the legendary German art school known for combining crafts with fine art. Knoll teamed with the architect Rem Koolhaas's OMA to curate an exhibition with Domitilla Dardi that presented the Bauhaus’s greatest hits, from the Bauhaus student and teacher Marcel Breuer’s iconic Wassily chair to Ludwig Mies van der Rohe’s legendary Barcelona chair.
Dimore Studio for Dior
Dior and Dimore Studio are calling the picturesque Casa degli Atellani home during Salone to showcase their first collaboration. Dior tapped the Milan-based Dimore Studio to create a line of 14 precious objects inspired by the French fashion house that includes its famous Cannage pattern on vases, as well as place settings, frames, and more that incorporate Dior’s signature marks. The collection is only available by special order for the next year.
Lexus x Rhizomatiks
The Japanese automaker charged the Japanese art and technology firm Rhizomatiks with designing its 2019 Salone del Mobile pavilion at Superstudio Più. The result was “Leading With Light,” an immersive (and extremely Instagrammable!) experience that combines Lexus’s light technology with a dance performance set in an installation where, afterward, visitors could control the movement of the lights with illuminated balls.
Issey Miyake x Jólan Van der Wiel
The Dutch designer Jólan van der Wiel traced the path of water in "Journey of a Raindrop: The Strange Attraction of Water," his Salone exhibition located at Milan’s Issey Miyake store. Water travels through a series of meandering, towering tubes in one installation, while in another piece, van der Wiel formed a hypnotic tunnel.
Marni Moon Walk
Marni brought together traditional craft with an imagined future for Marni Moon Walk. The Italian house displayed chairs, benches, and stools made of wood that resemble totem animals created by a community of Colombian artisans against a rough landscape that resembled the moon. Part of the proceeds from the sale of the collection will go to a children’s neuro-oncological clinic in Rome.
Kvadrat x Raf Simons
Kvadrat presented the newest iteration of its long running collaboration with Raf Simons in an installation titled No Man’s Land. Inspired by the flowers of a garden in an Impressionist painting, Simons created textiles that included corduroys in rich hues set against three of the architect Jean Prouvé’s prefab homes.
Tod’s x Studio Andrea Caputo
Tod’s partnered with architect Andrea Caputo to link the past with the present in an exhibition called "No_Code Shelter: Stories of Contemporary Life." The presentation brings viewers on a journey around the world and through time by examining the first homes inhabited by humans, from large yurts located on the Mongolian steppes to the huts found in West African villages. Plus, videos that illustrate the evolution towards contemporary living are told via personalities like the Amsterdam-based Italian design duo Formafantasma, American car designer Chris Bangle, and Tod’s No_Code sneaker designer Yong Bae Seok.
The Nilufar Depot hosted two exhibitions for Salone 2019. "Far," curated by Studio Vedèt and designed by Space Caviar, used Haus Rucker’s utopian Oase n.7, which was originally exhibited at the 1972 Documenta, as a starting point for installing three transparent bubble houses that showcased pieces by the emerging designers Wendy Andre and Thomas Ballouhey. The other show, "New Sculptural Presence," curated by Libby Sellers and designed by Patricia Urquiola, features pieces by the rising artists Nao Matsunaga, Irina Razumovskaya, and Jonathan Trayte.