by STIRworldMar 20, 2020
As science struggles with answers, great words may heal us from grave times. 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 first of a multi-part series, we present reflections from Rotterdam-based innovator Richard Hutten, Milan-based Giulio Cappellini – one of the biggest ambassadors of Italian design, and Valerie Barkowski, Marrakech-based Belgian textile designer and creative director.
Rotterdam-based Richard Hutten is one of the most influential and successful Dutch designers. He is well known for his conceptual and playful designs. A true innovator, he has established himself as one of the leading international figures in his field, continuously pushing the boundaries of design.
Richard shares a special relationship with Milan. “Milan is the place where my journey of fame started. I have fond memories of the Droog presentation in 1998, with fellow Dutch Designers Marcel Wanders, Jurgen Bey and Hella Jongerius, among others. Droog is the last big movement in design, and at that time we were making history without knowing. I still remember an interview I had with the New York Times. They wrote about me: ‘He looks like a rock star and he talks like a philosopher’,” reminisces the designer, hoping that the design action will soon resume after the threat has been overcome.
“At that time I looked like Kurt Corbain of Nirvana, including the long hair. In that time I still had hair!” he laughs.
At the Milan Design Week, Hutten would have launched projects with his clients such as Scarlet Splendour, Offecct, Ghidini 1961, De Rosso, Moroso, CS rugs, Ikonik design, Qeeboo, Japth, David Design, I+I, MOOOI, Japth, Eco Pixel and Danese Milano.
While these plans stand suspended, Richard tells us over video that the next three weeks are a time of great reflection and introspection. “I really hope the trend of sustainable design will be everywhere. We need to change the system, and we need to do it now.”
One of the biggest ambassadors of Italian design, Giulio, who is based in Milan, says it is always great to see how people from different parts of the world come together to witness the future of design at Salone Del Mobile.
He lets us peep into one of his own futuristic projects, the SuperCampus, part of the original showcase, aside from two new projects.
His other products feature in the Flaminia and Icone Luce lineup, and he also conceptualised a show with Marangoni Design Campus.
“During the Salone and Fuorisalone I like to visit the booths and showrooms of the main international design brands such as Vitra, Cassina, Flos, but also I like to discover new, unknown brands like Karakter or young designers’ self-productions.”
That’s not all. “Spazio Rossana Orlandi at Via Matteo Bandello 14 is always interesting, and I like to see the new trends at the Superstudiopiu’ at Via Tortona 27 - some beautiful installations.” Giulio also likes “the nice atmosphere of the Brera restaurants during the Design Week.”
What does the creative visionary see ahead? “I hope to see a lot of serious and sustainable projects that gives a real answer to the people’s needs. I hope to see beautiful objects using new materials and technologies.”
For the Belgian textile designer and former creative director of lifestyle brand No-Mad, Salone del Mobile has always been synonymous with new ideas and perspectives. “I like to feel and smell the new trends, see installations, wander in all those places that have a great vibe and energy,” she says. Valerie, with her free soul and gypsy spirit, shares that she was just “going to wander around” had the festival taken place as it was scheduled, and had no plans to showcase a project of her own this year although she was particularly interested in visiting the Milano Fuorisalone.
On a lighter note, the designer shares with us a funny portrait video that finds humour in humankind’s newfound obsession with hygiene. Shot by Tania Panova, the video shows a housekeeper brushing the dust off her much like a static object in the landscape. “I keep my eyes open and don’t forget to enjoy,” she reminds us.
We asked her about her secret design hotspots in Milan. “I always like to see Rosanna Orlandi’s space, and visit Luisa Cevese, who has a mono product for the last 25 years (Riedizioni is a collection of products made out of an innovative, original material which combines textile scraps with plastic, called 11). It is always a pleasure to see her work.”
Another thing that evokes a fond memory of Milan is the food. “Fondazione Prada and Luce cafe at the entrance are definitely the best of places for a while. There is the Trattoria Milanese, Via Santa Marta, which I like as well. Nothing fancy but good food, that is what I am generally looking for.”
Valerie remembers some great times spent at previous editions of the fair. “Somehow the installations that I keep in my mind are those by Paola Navone, especially The Secret Garden a few years ago. In fact, I like all her installations, there is always a good energy--she is not the youngest designer but her creativity is!”
Meanwhile, in her own isolated secret garden, she is doing all the things she never had the time to do: “read, listen to the birds sing, watch vegetables grow in the kitchen garden, think of this situation.”
“I definitely feel that we need to change our lifestyle. It is so obvious that the world is more than fragile... I have changed my lifestyle for a 'slow life' since several years, but it may be necessary to go to another level. What will happen in the next few weeks will determine that, I presume. We definitely need to be less arrogant and we need to read the signs that the earth sends us,” she concludes.
Click here to read what Fabio Novembre, Matteo Thun, Stephan Hamel, 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.