Many of the A-list fashion houses have expanded way beyond the realms of mere fashion, opening hotels, bars and restaurants, and offering fully fledged furniture and home collections.
This year’s Salone del Mobile provided a vivid microcosm of the brands that are extending their reaches and interests. Some presented their own home and furniture lines, others collaborated with interior brands – like Armani with bathroom specialists Roca, and Maison Martin Margiela with Cerruti Baleri – while others gave over their spaces to designers, as did Krizia to lighting designer Ingo Maurer.
The results could only be described as brand width of the highest order.
As well as unveiling a new Armani/Casa store on Via Sant’Andrea, Giorgio Armani showed its latest, 1930s-inspired Armani/Casa collection, a second textile collection with Rubelli, new kitchen fittings with Dada, and launched its new collaboration with Spanish bathroom experts, Roca – a complete bathroom collection that ranges from lighting, wall coverings and tiling to flooring and ceiling finishes.
In addition to showcasing a new suite of furniture, Bottega Veneta presented a small cache of Japanese objets – created by Japanese artisans and master craftsmen – that had been specially selected by creative director Tomas Maier and Seiichi Kamei, the editor-in-chief of Japanese design and architecture magazine Casa Brutus. Among the pieces on display were Akita cedar wooden pitchers by Yasutaka Shimizu and hand-cut Shippo Kiriko glasses by Glass.
With bespoke tailoring at its core, Brioni couldn’t have been a more suitable host for our ‘Wallpaper* Handmade… in Italy’ exhibition, dedicated to the marriage of craftsmanship and design. We commissioned our favourite designers, artists, makers and manufacturers to create unique furniture, fittings, food stuffs, fashions and more, which were shown over four floors of the Brioni house. Visitors were greeted by a dramatic installation in the courtyard, titled ‘12,000’ stitches’, which paid homage to the craftsmanship it takes to create a single Brioni suit.
Diesel’s ambitious offering for the Salone not only included new pieces for its ‘Successful Living’ homeware collection – including sharp-edged tables outlined in black metal and chrome, produced in partnership with Moroso – but a new car, named the Fiat 500C. With 16-inch alloy wheels, the convertible features a denim interior and Diesel’s iconic Mohican symbol on the gear stick. Also on show at the brand’s HQ were a series of robust suspended lamps finished in rubber, metal and cement, created in collaboration with Foscarini.
So pleased were they with their collaboration at last year’s Salone, Fendi and Design Miami rekindled in Milan this year what we hope is a long lasting affair. Spazio Fendi was given over to ‘Design Vertigo’, a series of site-specific installations by Swiss artist Felice Varini and three emerging studios rAndom International, Graham Hudson and Beta Tank.
For a week this past April, Gianfranco Ferré handed over its Spazio Gianfranco Ferré to a one-man show by the Spanish interior designer Nacho Carbonell. Living up to its marquee ‘Diversity’, the twenty new pieces were curated by Galleria Rossana Orlandi.
Ingo Maurer’s ongoing collaboration with Krizia during Salone continued this year with his new exhibition ‘Hoi Polloi – this, that and others’. Headlining the eclectic offerings displayed in Spazio Krizia were newly designed table and suspension lamps alongside the titular ‘Hoi Polloi’, a new lighting system that uses WonderLux – the engineering lovechild of the incandescent bulb and LED technology.
Marni flexed its design muscle during the Salone by commissioning architect Matteo Thun to create a series of installations outside its showroom and the Interni Think Tank, that would provide a dialogue about the life cycle of a product. His ‘Wooden Beacons’ featured sustainable red oak panels that seemed to project from the earth, interspersed by Marni fabrics, hanging jewellery or floating paper lanterns.
Massimo Alba’s new boutique in Milan feels more like a home-cum-studio than a store, with walls covered in pages from a 19th-century botanical encyclopaedia and a collection of comfortable chairs, books and artifacts. For the Salone, the designer personally selected a collection of brightly coloured, sculptural lamps by Paola Napoleone to complete the look.
Max&Co; showed its commitment to ethical design with a show titled ‘Unexpected signs from Africa’ in its flagship store on Corso Vittorio Emanuele. Alongside its ‘Ethical Animalier’ fashion collection was a range of furniture by Be Clever – a brand based in East Africa and headed up by Italian designer, Marzia Chierichetti. The chairs, shelves, cabinets and lights, created by local African artisans, have an organic texture that resembles bones and vertebrae.
The fashion label has been extending its reach beyond fashion for many years now, with its own homeware collection and a growing troop of Missoni hotels. For the Salone it joined forces with Artek, for the Finnish furniture brand’s 75th anniversary ‘Dress the chair’ campaign. Iconic armchairs and stools upholstered in Missoni fabrics were on show at Spazio Rossana Orlandi.
Moschino created a special window installation for the fair, humbly titled ‘Bits & Pieces’. The handmade tent, folding chair and lamp on display were inspired by nomads and ‘eccentric grandmothers’, and fashioned in colourful, recycled textiles. Salone was also the occasion to toast the opening of Maison Moschino, the label’s outré hotel where four poster beds are framed by tree trunks and giant tea cups double as tables.
During Salone, the windows of the Roberto Cavalli Boutique showed mannequins clad in Roberto Cavalli S/S 2010 interacting with wooden sculptures by Hungarian artist Laszlo LL Papp. Taken from his latest collection, the works included a ‘Bone cradle’, made from Italian walnut, and a wardrobe called ‘Skin and bone’ in beechwood
The fashion label Stone Island and furniture brand Zanotta literally fused together at the Salone. They called on designers Aldo Petillo and Andrea Dichiara to reinterpret the Zanotta’s ‘Sacco’ chair using Stone Island’s signature jacket as the skin. The resulting seven ‘Metamorphs’ were a dialogue about ‘the ability of iconic products to adapt to a world that increasingly changes at a rate we are unable to control’.
Versace’s ‘Funked Up New Classics’ collection was filled with pop colours and graphic themes. Reinterpretations of classical forms were mixed with distinctly modern shapes and the brand also unveiled its new range of glassware, in collaboration with Venini.
Two design ventures transformed the Vivienne Westwood store during the Salone. Suspended water bottles designed by Westwood for Sigg – makers of the original recyclable aluminum bottle – hung in the windows, aimed at urging people to rethink their use of the plastic alternative, while the walls of the store were decked in Westwood’s collaboration with Cole & Son – a series of wallpapers featuring some the fashion label’s most iconic designs, such as the ‘Squiggle’ print that first appeared in the A/W 81 ‘Pirate’ collection.