Marni has been steadily growing a reputation for innovative, but easy events that take the pace and pretension out of fashion weeks and design fairs around the world. Their flower markets, fruit markets and Hong Kong roof markets have had some common ingredients: colour, life and joy.
On the occasion of the Salone del Mobile 2016 Marni transforms its fashion runway space into a ballroom: Marni Ballhaus.
Marni’s Director of Special Projects, Carolina Castiglioni, decided to put on a Colombian dance festival where the public could come along and put on a bright skirt and move around their Head Office space Viale Umbria, 42 to live percussion.
Entering the Head Office Runway Space back area, visitors were overwhelmed by a warm South American atmosphere.
Marni Ballhaus was the themed setting for Italian fashion powerhouse Marni, to showcase their new furniture collection made of metal, hand woven wood and PVC wire, influenced by Colombian culture during Milan Design Week 2016.
“Marni Ballhaus,” celebrated Colombian culture and in particular the ancient couples dance dance of Cumbia, which gave rise to what is now one of the most popular music genres in Latin America.
Pollera Colerá Dresses
At the Marni Ballhaus performance space, the brand’s salute to Colombia showed Marni designed skirts patterned after the traditional ” pollera colerá ” the coloured skirt that gives name to a song that’s been called Colombia’s alternative national anthem.
The traditional Cumbia dancer skirts floated above and around the hall, serving as a vibrant backdrop to live spoken word, music and dance performances.
Marni Ballhaus sees the traditional full circular skirts worn by Cumbia dancers and the knotted scarves worn by the men reinterpreted and reproduced in iconic Marni fabrics.
The skirts created with the iconic Marni fabrics are on sale now exclusively at Marni.com.
Curated by choreographer Susanna Beltrami, the Marni Ballhaus has been accompanied by live performances of voice and percussion arranged to highlight the African roots of the dance combining songs in Spanish to contemporary sounds.
Marni used dance to create a link between the new design collection and the traditions of Colombia, the country that inspired it.
In this fascinating scenario dancers performed the traditional Cumbia, an ancient Colombian couple dance.
Cumbia Dancers brought a warming Colombian atmosphere to Viale Umbria, where the new limited edition of Marni home collection was displayed during the Salone
The costumes wore by dancers are a special Marni creation recreating traditional skirts for women and scarf for men with designer’s fabrics.
Marni Ballhaus is open to the whole city and the involvement of the public will be a fundamental part of the experience.
The whole city can learn the cumbia moves and dress in traditional costumes.
Visitors can attend performances by professional dance teachers, but also take an active part in the demonstrations, wearing typical costumes and learn the movements of Cumbia.
Rapidly the space becomes a welcoming explosion of colors, fabrics and sounds.
On Friday 15th April the Bsllroom space was dedicated exclusively to children in third and fourth year classes who were able to approach and discover a culture different from their own
Marni 2016 Furniture Collection
The colorful choreography of Cumbia frame the presentation of the new additions of Marni furniture, designed exclusively for the Salone 2016
Chairs, chaise lounge and rocking chairs are combined with small tables, lamps and vases of different sizes made of metal , wood and hand-woven using Marni’s signature hand woven PVC wires in bright color combinations.
Marni’s commitment to Colombia goes beyond fashion – the furnishings that form a backdrop to the dancing “have all been made in Colombia by a group of women who have gained independence and freedom through work.”
You can only ever buy Marni furniture in the duration of Salone
Marni Ballhaus reaffirms the commitment of the brand to the charity initiatives: Part of the proceeds of the sale of designer items were donated to charity Vimala Association, which supports numerous projects in favor of children.
Interview with Consuelo Castiglioni
Marni, helmed by designer Consuelo Castiglioni, has also created men’s neck scarves for the occasion, in the style of those worn in the Colombian countryside.
Pieces from Marni’s new home accessories line, inspired by Colombia, were on display in the ” Ballroom.”
What are some of the founding ideas behind Marni’s special projects ?
We started this idea of having all our events open to the public, so the public can join in and participate.
For Salone, we wanted to continue that. Also, after the event, Looking For Marni, that we did in February for the launch of our eyewear collection, we did a performance.
So we said, “OK it’s nice to continue the performance with the music.” It’s many years that we’ve produced a limited edition furniture collection with a group of women in Colombia.
Through the work, we can guarantee them independence. And so, the link was quite clear to us: Colombia, music, dance. We found out that in Colombia there’s this traditional ball called Cumbia.
It’s a mixture of South American and African culture.
So here we have a ballroom and we have all the skirts and people can join the lesson of Cumbia
All Marni projects seem to be joyous and celebratory.
Yes, it’s nice, because through these events, I think people can understand the Marni DNA, which is not only fashion, but something more. You can join in with the happiness and joy.
Is there pressure to do something massive for Salone ?
We do our own thing, in our way. Usually all the people come here and they enjoy our exhibition. We’re not worried about doing anything too strange to attract people. It’s going to be really easy and relaxing.
You use the same space for thee shows. Do you find it a versatile space, or do you like the challenge of working within these limitations ?
It can change a lot. If you see it during the fashion show, it’s completely different. I think it’s a really nice, clean space.
How did you get into doing special events for Marni ?
I did Fashion Business at Marangoni in Milan, then I joined Marni about 10 years ago.
I started in the commercial department following Far East and Middle Eastern markets, then I moved into retail and was the buyer of accessories for all our shops in Europe and America.
In 2006 we launched Marni e-commerce and were the first ones to have a website with all the categories that we had in our normal shop.
The idea was to have the same atmosphere and things as in the Marni shop.
Then I decided to leave buying and to follow all the special projects like at the Venice Biennale and Salone del Mobile and all the things we do that are not the core business.
Which Marni special projects have you been particularly happy with ?
I think the flower market was really special. We had 7000 people come in after the fashion show.
It was a Sunday, a sunny day and all the people came with family and children and we had a workshop where people could create necklaces with our elements. People were sitting on the grass.
It was really nice. Also, the Hong Kong roof market was really emotional because it was on the pier by night.
You were surrounded by the lights of the city of Hong Kong with this Massimo Bartolini artwork making a lake of lights.
It was really impactful and strong. We decided to have the sound of the flower market event from Milan, which we’d recorded. It created a connection.