by STIRworldApr 17, 2020
Perhaps one of the most endearing Italian expressions, one that may convey many different emotions: surprise, joy, pain, fear, anger. Perhaps an expression that evokes everything that the design community feels about the Salone Del Mobile that has gifted precious memories, even as this year’s event bows out in hope of the 60th edition that has recently been announced from April 13 to April 18, 2021.
It is the mama mia moments: of wild wonderment, fond memories, fun flashbacks and candid conversation, which keep the creative fraternity going strong amid a world quarantine.
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 third dispatch of a multi-part series, Moments of Affection: Milanese Alliances (M.A.M.A.), we present reflections from Welsh artist, visionary and industrial designer Ross Lovegrove, Dutch designer and art director Marcel Wanders along with his creative director Gabriele Chiave, and Italian architect and designer Michele De Lucchi.
“More disruption, more technology, less me-too-ism, less death by wenge wood, more of the avant-garde spirit that Sottsass, Ingo Maurer and Ron (Arad) used to bring…less scale, more content.”
That’s what Ross Lovegrove, award-winning English designer and visionary whose work is rooted in technology, biomimicry and materiality, hopes from the future of design.
To illustrate this thought, he recollects one of his fondest memories around the Salone Del Mobile. “In 1990 at Arosio at the factory of Cappellini, there was a paradigm shift in the way Italian design was directed. (There was) Cappellini, James Irvine, Jasper Morrison, Tom Dixon, Marc Newson. Cappellini could see that there was a need to disrupt the model observing that Italian design was beginning to rotate on its own postmodern axis with a predictable outcome. This was not a criticism but an insight into the need for change and to inject a new form of energy from the outside.”
Ross recalls that Cappellini put together a group of British designers, all with very individual styles but with a common attitude that was industrially different. “I can remember everything so vividly, the space, the light, the layout, and the objects - it was outside of Milan but it felt very special and authentic. It felt like so much was possible and nothing around me was derivative or formulaic. It felt quite modest and silent and in fact, at the edge, but influential.”
At the Salone, Ross is always seeking out alternative brands and individual shows from friends such Paul Cocksedge, Tokujin Yoshioka, Konstantin and Michael Young. “I find the shows of individuals far more sincere and invigorating than corporate players…I am totally overwhelmed by the bloated scale of production and never know how the earth provides and sustains so much physical mass of material…always seems so unnatural.”
A fan of the risotto Milanese at Bagutta on via Bagutta “even if it’s a bit touristy”, and the Torre De Pisa or Leaning Tower of Pisa “where I used to go with James and Sottsass”, Ross misses Milan, which would have witnessed a very relevant creation by him this year. “I was asked by Rossana Orlandi to create a piece of art from plastic as part of her program to spread greater awareness, good or bad, about this ubiquitous material. So I have created a 3-metre high Dolphin Vertebrae that’s 3D printed by Nagami with ocean plastic donated by Parle, it is a very emotional object as there’s almost something religious about it,” he shares with us as an important reminder of the crisis that needs our immediate intervention.
Marcel Wanders and Gabriele Chiave
Gabriele Chiave, Creative Director at Amsterdam-based design studio Marcel Wanders, urges the fraternity to carve a conscious path ahead. “By creating less, we can truly focus on quality, and reduce mass-consumption and the rapidity of the production-consumption cycle. I want to see more attention to craft. I want to feel the investment of time by the artisans within the details of the work, to support a more humanistic and ecological approach. I am also hoping to see a greater percentage of work that is designed with sustainable materials or at least has been created to make a more sustainable world.”
Meanwhile, the team is missing the palpable action every year during the Milan Design Week. “We work all year around to introduce new projects with our clients at Salone. It feels like a race with Salone being the finish line, as well as the starting line for coming year all over again.”
In between, of course, there are many great moments to cherish. “Among the more memorable moments that were quite funny would have to be the time that Marcel Wanders, Ross Lovegrove, Philippe Starck and I decided to share with everyone our vocal skills as we sang loudly at the Magis booth at the fair!”
This year would have seen the extension of their Gentleman Collection and a new Bedroom Collection for Poliform, a lamp and new chair for the Objets Nomades collection with Louis Vuitton, an outdoor collection with Vondom, and two lamps and a sofa for Moooi. However, Gabriele observes that this is an important time for introspection.
“At this moment, mostly for health and ecological reasons, I believe that 2020 offers us the chance to stop, reflect, think about how we design, produce and distribute, and perhaps also how to add more value to the planet with the things we are creating. I am convinced that Salone del Mobile should become a biennale as this would benefit our industry, the quality of our projects, people’s lives and the betterment of our planet tremendously.”
Michele De Lucchi
The Italian architect and designer feels that the coronavirus emergency teaches us, more than anything else, to care for each other. “We limit physical contact to preserve the people that can be more affected by it. Beyond fighting a virus, this is above all a great gesture of solidarity,” he says.
Among other commissions, during Salone, Michele De Lucchi and his studio AMDL CIRCLE traditionally hold an event to present the latest findings on their research project. Their newest concept is called Earth Stations.
“The current events are a metaphor of the need to adapt to the ever-changing circumstances, integrating the paradigm of change in both design and architecture. Our work is often inspired by the concept constant change, which is at the base of the Earth Stations research,” he informs.
Earth Stations are active architectures that form networks that are easy to reach, and are built in places that form or regenerate urban and infrastructural nodes. They respond to our evolving lifestyles where artificial intelligence increasingly frees man from bureaucratic and repetitive tasks, establishing an opportunity to create places that express personal freedom and harness the enormous potential of technology.
“In these difficult times, creativity and humanity are the best tools that we have. While we are having our meetings online, you see different homes, different desks, many workplaces with a Tolomeo lamp on it. Yet, from distance, we all talk about the same ideas. Distance gives us all more time for personal reflection, and distance also makes you ask yourself: how can I shorten it? The forced calm that the economy has been facing has also bought time to deepen our research and our creative findings, to inspire and transfer on our future commissions,” he shares.
Click here to read what Richard Hutten, Giulio Cappellini, Valerie Barkowski , Fabio Novembre, Matteo Thun, Stephan Hamel, 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.