A Legendary Friendship @ Salone Milan 2013

A Legendary Friendship @ Salone Milan 2013

moooi via savona

Moooi presented their Unexpected Welcome collection among giant portraits by renowned Dutch photographer Erwin Olaf and undressed manequins. It was an impressive, vast, lavish, recession-defying installation.

Moooi took up residence in the imposing Zona Tortona space of 1.700 m2 transforming it, into a stylish assembly of colourful living quarters, new product displays, lounges, an artistic exhibition.

The result > Interior design met artistic photography and they connected,  creating the perfect balance between two inspiring, stylish and playful realities.

moooi entrance sign

entrance to ” Moooi celebrates a legendary friendship with Erwin Olaf “

Erwin Olaf is the long time house-photographer for Moooi, but what they presented this year was not the usual ‘model-Moooi object in a fun, stylish combination’.

The art direction was a complete vision that not only presented their products, but offered a collection of cryptic vignettes which created the unease of a recent crime scene, while infused with a subtle sense of humor.

Moooi accessorised the interior sets with an irresistible blend of exquisite richness, nurturing warmth and colourful playfulness.

moooi panorama


Erwin Olaf’s mesmerising 4.5 mtr portraits covered entire walls to form the backdrop for each zone, lending the display a retro cinematic effect.

Lounging on the furniture, naked mannequins were posed in provocative positions that create a voyeuristic intrigue. The unforgettable theatrics fits beautifully with the campy flair that Moooi creative director Marcel Wanders is so well known for.

marcel wanders

marcel wanders on press day

This assortment of interior environments was decorated with an inspiring variety of patterns and colours to embrace any kind of space and make people of different ages, cultures and personalities fall in love with their homes.

That is the way we live: a mix of found, bought, self made and travel memory stuff  eg strange flowers, sneakers lying around, basketballs, medicine and drinks

erwin olaf

erwin olaf

The connection that has been established between Erwin Olaf and Marcel Wanders has run since the start of Moooi ( some 10 years or so ).

So as a tribute to his dedicated support and commitment to Moooi’s creative endeavours – Marcel Wanders decided to devote the entire exhibition to Olaf – with a grand selection of photographs from Olaf’s personal portfolio

Erwin chose to challenge the public with pieces from his series Grief, Fall, Keyhole and Berlin which respectively challenge everyday notions, dwell on sensations of shame & guilt, or show the transcendent relation between people in a different light

A world of sensual tension welcomed the hundreds of visitors that felt an unexpected experience, as the photographs unfolded their stories and feelings on a large scale.


The models in Erwin’s gripping pictures are watching over the scenes, are interacting with the furniture and start to tell their very intimate, almost too private story in perfect silence. Admiring them feels like stepping into a world of exceptional sophistication, permeated with the sharp intensity of human emotions and enveloped in a dreamy haze of subtle tension.

Although cleverly concealed, their hidden stories instinctively appeal and connect to our deepest sense of being, revealing the strong frailty of the human spirit. No words are spoken but you feel in each setting what story needs to get out

moooi unexpected welcome salone 2013

Olaf’s portraits were blown up to divide the space and provide backdrops for the products. Each setting provided an escape and told it’s own story.


The new designs were admired and observed in detail along an extensive ‘catwalk’ presentation, in which they ‘pose’ individually to share their pristine beauty with the public.

There was a beautiful tension created by the irreverent, sometimes flirtatious styling of the furniture, props and lighting, while the haunting and enigmatic backdrops provided a real sense of grandeur and drama.


Just like these perfectly executed images layered with narrative, the art direction and styling of Moooi’s collection matched the attention to detail in it’s own unique way.

moooi mannequins (4)

Especially for this occasion, the Moooi presentation was inhabited and characterized by a number of colourful mannequins by Hans Boodt.

They made themselves at home at Moooi’s presentation, bringing an extra feeling of intimacy to the living quarters and resembling peoples’ personality, style & taste.


moooi mannequins (2)

Real and surreal at the same time!

erwin with marcel on a concept photoshoot

erwin with marcel on a product concept photo shoot


marcel by erwin olaf

portrait of Marcel Wanders taken by Erwin Olaf


About Erwin Olaf


Mutli award-winning Dutch photographer Erwin Olaf has photographed campaigns for the likes of Levi’s, Diesel, Audi, Microsoft and Nokia, to name just an impressive few… but it’s his personal work that is really making creative waves of Tsunami proportions – controversial, provocative and delving beneath the surface with a strong and thought-provoking visual narrative.

Erwin Olaf (1959) is on the threshold of an important year: his most recent photographic series, Hope, Grief and Rain appear to have given him an international breakthrough.

He’s received praise from many respected observers, one being Laura Noble of London Independent Photography who said of him;……  “Erwin Olaf’s work inhabits a twilight world often tempered with an unnerving stillness as his subjects appear frozen in time before the shutter clicks… I implore you to admire the beauty of his aesthetic and suggest that you linger on the elements within each image at leisure.

His work has been criticized since the 1980s as being produced merely for its shock value, thus eliminating it as art. But now that important art dealers and museums all over the world are showing his works, and huge crowds are visiting his expositions, it seems as if his years of hard work will finally lead to serious recognition.

Yet this is occurring, of all times, in a period of his life in which Erwin Olaf is contending with emphysema, a debilitating disease that obliges him to deal cautiously with his energy reserves.

Whether his body can keep up with his work pace is uncertain.

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