In 2002 Rossana Orlandi ( the Milanese godmother of design) transformed a former tie factory in the Magenta district (on Via Matteo Bandello) into a series of galleries and a shop called the Spazio Rossana Orlandi.
Spazio Rossana Orlandi now showing for the 9th year, continues to be a must see during Milan Design Week as Rossanna discovers and present the best international design at her multi-storey maze of a design space.
The corridors are very crowded, and one always comes away with the feeling of having left somethings out. Spazio Orlandi is so nice, that it is virtually impossible not to be charmed.
International atmosphere, light, colors, flowers,whimsical items, windows, boxes full of anything, textiles, mazes, tunnels, courtyards and wonderful exhibits all around you, and a great way to have a relaxing “end of Salone” celebratory lunch.
Each year during the Milan fair Rosanna Orlandi shows a collection of exhibitions, featuring everything from student designs and other quirky pieces to the work of the latest hot designers, all within her beautiful courtyard garden, where traditional Italian food is delicious, un-pretentious and affordable and served by genuine Italian Nonnas.
Walking into the courtyard at Spazio Rossana Orlandi is usually like walking into a popular bar, people strewn across the many seats (most of which are new designs), people chatting about how their latest discoveries and designers taking a quick break from presenting their wares.
The space has a buzzy cafe culture ambience and there’s a sense that something different is always happening here.
The spaces wind around a green courtyard oasis areas, and is divided between the 2-floor store, where you can find contemporary and vintage furniture and the gallery, established in 2008, a space dedicated to limited editions and unique pieces.
The Spazio is very confusing for first time visitors, as it has grown haphazardly over time. Even the bright rooms of the ground floor with large Windows overlooking the garden, the space looks and feels more like an apartment in Milan or elsewhere in Europe – with inner courtyards and lush plants.
It is also difficult to discern between the artworks which are treated as pat of the decor – exposed as if they were always there.
Rossana Orlandi, at seventy years old, is one of the most iconic figures in Italian design.
Over the years Rossana’s Spazio has become a recognised “design kick starter” for new trends in contemporary design.
Her aim remains constant – “to spot and promote young upcoming designers, from all around the world”
As well as providing fresh ideas and “new generation eyes”, the exhibition as a whole answered this year’s most prominent question around spaces of the future: a shift towards synergetic home and office spaces and the creation of all-round functional objects and furniture to serve both the work and home environment at the same time
Marco Tabasso … ( who after 10 years working with Rossana is almost ” like a son ” to her ! ( see comments below ) ) …… was overseeing the installation process and observed that many of the designers showing there had come to him last minute. “At first it was like with the recession, everyone seemed afraid,” he said. “Then suddenly…”
This year’s exhibition presented a great mix of innovative design and craftsmanship as well as products set to furnish and decorate homes of the future.
Face-o-mat was one of the highlights of Spazio Rossana Orlandi.
Just Post $5 of special Face-o-mat currency through the slot in the front, adjust the dials, and wait for your portrait. On the other side, somewhat Wizard of Oz style, Tobias Gutmann responded to your chosen settings and painted your portrait by hand according to the criteria you set on the dials.
Founded in 2000 by Beirut-‐based designers Hoda Baroudi and Maria Hibri, Bokja has carved a highly individual niche in the interiors market offering a wide range of one-‐off pieces upholstered with a wide variety of vintage and contemporary textiles and embroideries from around the world.
Each piece is created in Bokja’s Beirut workshop by Lebanese men and women from different Arab nationalities who in their own way are immigrants too.
Bokja’s philosophy is to cherish a sense of the past and to layer new objects with memory
“The overwhelming reaction to our show was how poetic it was,” said Hoda Baroudi “We felt our story was well received in Milan. People connected with it and wanted to share their own personal migration stories as well ! The experience was very moving and it felt rewarding to see our ideas translated into fabrics, embroideries and design.”
In the basement area was Dutch designers – Wonmin Park, who have evolved their Unfocused table into a broader “Haze collection” series.
The tables and chairs which make up the collection have a strong focus on geometrical shapes combined with colour and more or less opaque material.
According to Park ….. “beauty is not necessarily the focus on one thing, but more a momentary haze which allows us to enjoy life”.
I loved A Moment, Jay Hyun Kim’s 55-minute timer, which reveals different colors as it is unfolded.
New Rule by Allon Libermann caught my eye too – the design plays on the way we move our fingers along rulers when counting measurements.
Curro Claret’s T300 is a single piece of metal that enables the user to construct a stool from found materials. The project started life as an initiative to help people at risk of social exclusion to make their own furniture and has since expanded to include many people in difficult situations. This is the first time the crucial metal piece has been available for sale.
Elsewhere in the basement was a presentation by Dutch designers BCXSY.
Presenting part IV of the Origin series, Sayaka Yamamoto (one half of BCXSY alongside Boaz Cohen) carefully opened and closed fragrant wooden boxes.
“Here you see two concepts presented,” explains Yamamoto. “One is based on the wooden stages featured in Japanese tea ceremonies, the other (a series of ceramic vessels) uses a liquid clay glaze to illustrate their function.”
As always for their Origin series, BCXSY travelled to Japan without preconceived ideas, allowing them to create designs based purely on their experiences.
The ceramics are classic Japanese shapes but have been tweaked by adding for instance an extra spout. The glaze shows how the items are intended to be used, or forms a pattern on a series of cups when stacked.
“See it as a gesture”, said Yamamoto, “of course your free drink from the other spout or stack the cups differently.”
Shown alongside the two projects is another new design, this time for a young Osaka glass factory Inframince.
Tableware made from glass is shown on a table, ranging from clear to white opaque. There a six gradiations in total and each one slightly changes the way food or drink is perceived. “With the clearer gradations its clear the products are made from glass, but the more opaque it becomes, the more it could resemble porcelain for instance.”
Karimoku is a traditional Japanese furniture company and the New Standard is their new contemporary venture.
Future Primitives by Muller Van Severen was included in the London Design Museum’s Designs of the Year exhibition, so it was great to see it exhibited at Orlandi’s
Also down in the basement were Bala Side Tables by Jaime Hayon for Se.
Another interesting presentation was that of sustainable LED bulbs by lighting company Booo, which combined the bulb and the shade together.
Also simple yet effective, the Poke stool is the first foray into furniture for Korean-born Swedish typographic designer Kyuhyung Cho.
A series of circles in the seat of the stool allow the legs of other stools to be poked through to create a stackable and playful piece.
Pure, Jean Nouvel’s range of gumboot-like shoes in bright hues.
Lex Pott presents two new metal oxidation projects, a step on from his first research on various types of metal plates: True Colour.
Now a series of vases and a large oxidized open cabinet have been added to the list and with products on show the designer is growing fast “and will soon have to hire some new people”.
We’ll also be keeping our eyes on Minale Maeda, a design duo comprising Kuniko Maeda and Mario Minale.
Among the artists and designers of the maison Orlandi there even the architects More than Cook Your payoff Home offer an innovative system to build modular homes.