by STIRworldApr 17, 2020
All of us are at home; all of us are in hope. Warm wishes and fond memories, fun flashbacks and conversations of camaraderie strong enough to stay through the quarantines - this is the stuff that keeps the design community going even as most events, including the biggest design fair in the world, Salone Del Mobile in Milan, stand cancelled.
STIR believes that in such times of crisis, it is important to recall the strength of solidarity and open the conversation to creative leaders from around the world so that we all heal a little with the collective sharing of hope and positivity. We reached out to some luminaries from the design world and asked them to share their perspectives and plans.
In the second dispatch of a multi-part series, we present reflections from Italian architect and innovator Fabio Novembre, Milan-based designer Matteo Thun and design consultant Stephan Hamel.
“We are all born on planet Earth, it doesn’t matter where we live,” reminds Italian architect and designer Fabio Novembre, urging the entire community to question and reflect upon our ways of life in trying times. “The trend we all should refer to is sustainability! It will be never enough to focus on this topic for our own survival. Then, of course, the pandemic experience we are living adds issues like: can we still perceive the reality that surrounds us as a number of different nations? Or should we think of the human race in its entirety?”
For Fabio, Milan has always been a symbol of the unified spirit that he points toward. He shares with us an unforgettable picture from his Salone Del Mobile album. “It’s a picture of myself with the Mayor of Milano (Beppe Sala) during the ceremony of official opening of the Salone 2019. We are exchanging jackets for the photograph as a symbol of how Milano and the Salone become the same thing during that week, and everybody is welcome for its big celebration.”
One of the places in Milan he misses being at, this year, is the Triennale di Milano, “...the place that hosts any kind of activity related to design, as well as an elegant restaurant on the terrace and a beautiful cafè in its park.”
Even as we are temporarily confined, the year ahead looks rich with inspiration and inventions from the Fabio Novembre Studio. “I have much upcoming news this year; from a new whole kitchen for Scavolini to a new sofa system for Natuzzi, from new pieces for Kartell to a complete new collection for Driade (brand that I also art-direct),” he shares.
Each year at Salone Del Mobile, Matteo Thun sets out not just to visit the brands and products that he works with but also “new products that we could not find in the market, the way we needed them to be”.
This year, several products designed by the Italian architect and designer were to be showcased at Light + Building (Frankfurt), Salone and Fuori Salone. “From lamps to porcelain slabs…you’ll see when Salone will happen later,” he shares, keeping the hope alive.
It is the spirit of Milan during this time that has always inspired him. “For us it is not about trends - it’s about meeting people, opening up dialogues, exchanging ideas, seeing clients…enjoying that creatives and industry come together for a week.”
It is also his secret design hotspots, “My terrace; and the café/bar a few steps away from my office – Fioraio Bianchi Caffe,” that make the city special to him.
One of his most unforgettable memories from the fair has been the launch of the Memphis project a few decades ago. “When presenting the first Memphis products in 1981, the streets were crowded with people who wanted to see these…we were not prepared for that at the time,” he recalls. Memphis, co-founded by Matteo, went on to be a design movement that significantly shaped the design narrative then, and continues to inspire today as it evolves.
“The latest fashion is no fashion. The latest design is no design, anonymous disappearing,” says the innovator, strategist and communicator quite relevantly when we ask him to forecast the future. “More individual crafting and more technical, small details, a lot of handcrafting and precision,” he adds, hinting somewhat at the important care that humankind has overlooked in its life of mindless, mass consumption.
Stephan’s experience of the annual Salone Del Mobile has evolved with his own journey. “Years ago, I was trying to see everything but now you tend to see what you have to see for your specific field. Even though I am trying to see as much as I can, there are always surprises. I also am trying to see more periferia installations,” he shares with us. This year’s plan included a showcase of his collection of carpets, Zitanpixel. “And showing my holy pictures on the Madonna della Guadalupe meeting Godzilla. These are my personal stories, but there was going to be a great show of Lasvit a Czech and an event with Vibram to show soles,” adds the international consultant with 20 years of expertise in everything from glass and lighting to iconic rubber soles.
Milan has always uplifted Stephan’s spirits, whether it is for its galleries or the food. “I like very much the Gallery of Luisa delle Piane, in Via Giusti 24, next to Chinatown Paolo Sarpi area. She is the most elegant lady in Milan and has a wonderful taste. Burro e Salvia in Viale romagna 14 has fresh pasta and is really trendy, because it isn’t at all glamour, but extreme quality,” he shares, adding, “I will miss all my global friends the most, and the moment to host them!”
Nevertheless, he is positive that these times will soon pass as he tells us he is ready to STIR up 2020! “Since I was always stirring, I would like to stir more and explain better why Italy and Milan are not a hotspot, but essential for the culture of design, production and quality.”
Stephan shares with us a very special retrospective recounting his journey of 30 years, where he says, “I learned many things through the Salone del Mobile but the most important is that only true belief and sincere love wins whatever project you commence.”
Click here to read what Richard Hutten, Giulio Cappellini, Valerie Barkowski , Ross Lovegrove, Marcel Wanders, Michele De Lucchi, Kelly Hoppen, Nika Zupanc and Marcantonio Malerba have to share, as part of the Miss You, Milan series, courtesy of FLOS, and conceptualised by Pramiti Madhavji.