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Salone Internazionale del Mobile in Milan

Salone Internazionale del Mobile in Milan
April 13 - 18, 2005

This year's annual Salone del Mobile in Milan, Italy evoked a much more positive and laid-back mood than years past. This could be due to the fact that the weather was actually pretty nice or that the excitement seems to have returned to the world of design. It almost brought me back to the days when Erica Calvi was organizing the Ron Arad and Ingo Maurer exhibition/parties that paved the way for the current crop of events that surround the fair. The nostalgia was definitely heightened by the fact that this is the last year the fair will be at the old Milan fair grounds and as of next year will be moved to a site near Malpensa Airport. It was good to see both old an new faces making their respective marks on the design world and there wasn't so much design as fashion as there was fashionable design...more emphasis on quality not quantity...

Of course the best design in the fair proper (my objective opinion of course) was found at the Satellite - building number 9, where the up and coming designers present their projects in prototype format. Our favorites were the Front design girls from Sweden who as always put a twist on what design can and will be... many satellite exhibitors looked at the bigger more conceptual side of design which offered some refreshment from the purely commercial side found in the manufacturers presentations. Not to be quite outdone though the presentations from Moroso, Edra and Alias offered up a more theatrical presentation that set the stage for some really great new products.. our favorites were the new textile that the Norway Says boys designed and that moroso used on many of their pieces as well as the nice series that Alfredo Haberli designed for Alias. Patrick Norguet showed his new outstanding Boson chair for Artifort that pushed the envelope of new classicism. This was the semi-annual Euroluce as well so the lighting contingent was well represented with traditional favorites Flos, Artemide, Fontana Arte, Luceplan as well as some great new presentations by Oluce and Zero Lighting. One of my favorite designers Johanna Grawunder did some beautiful lighting for Flos - more of an installation actually - reminiscent of her exhibitions at Gallery Milano in years past. It was nice to see the crossover from furniture to lighting and back again by a number of the big names in the game.. Philip Starck, Marc Newson, James Irvine, Lissoni Associati, Tom Dixon, Michael Young, etc.

The scene outside the fairgrounds proper were hopping indeed and Our old friend Guilio Cappellini was back on top after a bit of a flounder after the sale of his company to the Poltrana Frau Group a couple a years ago. Guilo is almost single-handedly responsible for the design as entertainment element that makes the fair so exciting and it is his curatorial influence that has launched many a career. The Cappellini presentation was outstanding as was the phenomenal exhibition by Vitra...Zona Tortona had so much going on that one had to make several visits to take it all in.. from the consistently superb VIA exhibition from France to Mooi from Holland (where Marcel Wanders girlfriend Nanine Linning bartended hanging from the ceiling), SCP from Great Britain to new-comer Hay with some of the best Danish design we have seen in years. One of the highlights of the events outside the fair was the Swedish design conglomerate at Townhouse - a new hotel that boasts the only Absolute Icebar south of Sweden. Featuring the work of Asplund, Offecct, David Design, Nola, Zero Lighting and more ( of course a large percentage of the designs by our friends Claesson, Koivisto, and Rune - the Triumvirate of Swedish design) the almost tropical environs of Townhouse made one feel that they were in Miami or Newport Beach. The only palm trees in Milan held court at the outdoor cafe while the Icebar offered a nice juxtaposition where drinks quickly turned into shots as the cold started to numb all extremities. Thank goodness for the silver parka's one was required to don before entering the air-lock entrance. Karim Rashid indeed proved that he has changed the world with his presentation of work from a global collection of manufacturers put together under one roof in gallery on Via Marco Polo... The party was raving with everything touched by "King Karim" from the music, to drinks, to the models covered head-to-toe in Karim designed garb. He even design the gift bag made of scent impregnated plastic by manufacturer Melissa - there were several fights for the bags - destined to become instant collectibles - get yours on eBay soon! Of course Bar Basso was the hangout of choice in the wee hours of the morning - many a new friend was made.. if only I can find that mobile number... oh well


 
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