Circolo Marras @ Salone Milan 2015

Circolo Marras @ Salone Milan 2015

segno italiano antonio marras 2015 (7)

Segno Italiano ( = Signs of Italy ) cooperated with the best craftsmen of Southern Sardinia to present a collection of baskets in cane river, Myrtle and olive tree with the neck in willow,

For the Salone 2015, fashion designer and stylist Antonio Marras reinterpreted these baskets by weaving into them fabrics from his own collections, and presenting these bags for sale throughout the week, as an icon of the 2015 Salone.

Here Marras focused on the second exhibition with Segno Italiano and on this occasion presented the Cesteria Sarda (Sardinian Baskets) collection, the first chapter in the Cesterie Italiane (Italian Baskets).

antonio marras milan 2015 (1)



Baskets from Sardinia

segno italiano antonio marras 2015 (5)

The first chapter exhibitions between Antonio Marras and Segno Italiano occured during the Saloen 2014 when the ” Volo a Planare ” capsule collection of Atestine ceramics designed by Marras

The second capsule collection was launched this week and this time around it is dedicated to Sardinian crafts hand woven baskets, with Marras envisioning a veritable domestic Sardinian scenario.

antonio marras at segno italiano 2015 (12)

After getting to know Antonio Marras, the Sardinian stylist with strong links to his homeland, culture and its customs ), Segno Italiano has developed a synergy on these topics, in particular on his reciprocal passion for Sardinian handicrafts and manual skills.

As the stylist says, what fascinated him about the people working with Segno Italiano was the idea of recovering, protecting and reinterpreting the brilliant artisan works of the Italian territory, an idea very close to what Antonio Marras says with his Laboratorio collection, a space he has created to escape from the frenetic and industrial dynamics of the fashion world.

antonio marra

segno italiano antonio marras 2015 (8)

antonio marras paola lenti 2015 (4)


Spiders Nest Trail

Following his 2014 exhibition his new  ” Spiders Nest trail ” explores further,  the web of ideas and projects between the stylist and Segno Italiano.

Within the magical Circolo Marras the Sentiero dei nidi di ragno includes the installation of a huge 5-meter high cubic aviary wrapped in tulle with suspended nests and rotating mechanisms inside it.

birds nests

antonio marras birds nest

Antonio Marras presented ” Spider Nests trail” as his Second capsule collection created with Italian Segno

The Nidi-Ceste ( Basket nests ) in plaited willow, designed by Annalisa Cocco and Roberta Morittu for Imago Mundi (2005), were re-interpreted by Antonio Marras through the use of his fabrics and colour pallets that remind us of his collections.

The installation is animated by the playful, festive presence of fifty or so little fluttering, chirping zebra finches.

bird nest

milan design award 2015

Antonio Marras + Segno Italiano-” The Nest of Spiders “won the ” The Milano Design Award ” for the effective orchestration of narrative, technology and artifacts.

The installation it shows exemplary in consistency between the concept and execution, in a perfect balance between poetry and materiality.


Gardens of Circolo Marras

antonio marras shop garden

The recently discovered terrace gardens of Antonio Marras’s showroom / shop and studio were a welcome sojourn for many Salone goers

Blended within the gardens, were a large number of Paola Lenti outdoor furniture pieces which provided sun control relief on the hotter days, and dry zones to drink or eat on the wet days at this years Salone

antonio marras showroom

The Circolomarras, the collaboration between Antonio Marras and Paola Lenti continues within the outside internal courtyards of the Marras showroom.

The courtyard, a large multifunctional space, feature some of the Paola Lenti seating pieces, enriched with unique colour weaves selected by Antonio Marras: from a casual encounter an original collaboration was born, an artistical exchange between two ways of conceiving the harmony of beauty.

paola lenti rood top garden (2)

antonio marras milan 2015 (2)

Circolomarras is a place where you can freely move, like within an apparel.

The apparel is the first space that a human owns; it is his defense, his own protection, his safety.

The etymology of the Italian word abito (apparel) is the same as abitare (to live); both derive from the Latin verb habeo, habere, which means to have, to own.

The space widens into the room, the house, the neighborhood, the city, the island, the world. Circolomarras used to be a workshop, a handicraft laboratory for the assembly of electromechanical components.

Everything has remained unchanged.

And the olive tree in the garden continues to watch over all of us.

It firmly unites and entwines affections, feelings, emotions, it resists time and wear, it binds firmly that which departs to that which remains.

paola lenti rood top garden (1)

Tonino Serra & company

antonio marras paola lenti 2015 (3)

marrass roof 1

antonio marras paola lenti 2015 (2)


Segno Italiano Shop

antonio marras at segno italiano 2015 (6)

salone antonio marras shop 2015 (7)

Il sentiero dei nidi di ragno
Segno Italiano
Circolo Marras
Via Cola di Rienzo 8, Milano

segno italiano antonio marras 2015 (6)


2014 Project

segno italiano antonio marras 2014 (1)

After working at the creation of the first domestic scenario of “Dinner Table”, consisting of the collection of The Chair of Chiavari, ceramics Atestina, I Ramaioli Tridentini, green glass of Empoli and the knives of Scarperia: Segno Italiano

segno italiano antonio marras 2014 (2)

segno italiano 2


Antonio Marras Plates collection for Segno Italiano

segno italiano antonio marras plates

Segno italiano released a Marras “capsule” edition of 8 plates – that re use watercolor sketches from Marras’s multi-faceted world.

segno italiano 3











About Antonio Marras

segno italiano antonio marras 2015 (4)



Antonio Marras: From Finance to Fashion
By Luisa Zargani

segno italiano antonio marras 2015 (3)

For anyone who has marvelled at his shows, the personal tales behind his carefully detailed collections, or his fanciful and imaginative sets, it’s hard to think of Antonio Marras as a bean counter.

Yet at the beginning of his work life, the designer gravitated toward finance—a professional life behind a bank teller’s window.

“I’m sure I would have made lots of clients happy, handing them the wrong change, giving them more money than I was meant to,” Marras chuckles, his self-effacing manner a rare trait in the ego-rich fashion industry.

His father, Efisio, had hoped his son would go into accounting, but that plan changed when he took over the family’s textile shop in Alghero, Sardinia, after Efisio died in the Seventies.

Marras, 54, is even more surprised at his easy relationship with money when he recalls his early days at the store, which he later transformed into a fashion boutique.

“What budgets? I followed my instinct and I would just buy what I liked—racks of Moschino or Jean Paul Gaultier.”

But make no mistake: Despite his claims of being a “terrone,” a colloquial term for someone from the south of Italy, superstitious and a fatalist, Marras has an almost Calvinist approach to his work.

“My Laboratorio collection, all sewn and embroidered in Sardinia, is a procedure and a method that only a madman would take on,” says the designer, showing a short dress embroidered with a dazzling number of beads and crystals that are comparable to haute couture.

In fact, Marras was invited to show a couture collection in Rome in 1996 and, to that end, he took apart his uncle’s wardrobe, re-creating striking gowns from men’s suits, cutting and stitching together scraps from different looks.

antonio marras work (3)

Today, in his Circolo Marras showroom in Milan, surrounded by flea-market mirrors and rugs he designs in an artisanal style typical of Sardinia, sitting on a Paola Lenti chaise lounge he upholstered—interiors being one of his passions—Marras muses on his wish to return to couture. At the same time, he’s mulling taking on a financial partner.

“Until now, I wasn’t even willing to listen to any proposal, I was entirely closed to the idea.

Patrizia [his wife, who is chief executive officer] and I decide on everything, but this has a cost, it requires economic commitment and sacrifice. I’m starting to think that I’d like to be unburdened by bureaucratic and financial tasks. I’m now ready to evaluate the possibility of a partner.”

Marras says he realizes his designs must be “more visible and available. A dress is not an end in itself, otherwise it’s just an object. I am interested clothes that are worn, they must live.”

The designer segues, expressing his distaste for pigeonholing. “Niche is limiting, I don’t like the concept, I never understood it. I believe there is a larger number of people who could appreciate the work I do. It’s easier to dub someone or something ethical or minimal, but I don’t believe in that. I was born minimal but I just can’t do it. I like simple lines, but I adore interventions, contrasts, going beyond limits, and cross-pollination. I like to see the transformation, to change things so that they become different.”

Enter his self-described “mania” with fabrics, washed and treated in different ways—and mistakes that can be fixed. “Beauty can come from ugly things. This intrigues me, and gives me the most satisfaction.”

antonio marras work (5)

Marras is something of a fashion outsider, “an anomaly in the system,” as he puts it.

He spends about a week a month in Milan, where he has staff manning the showroom, but continues to live and work in his hometown of Alghero, “an island on the island,” he says, where locals speak Catalan.

He points to the “cultural stratification and strategic position” of Sardinia, conquered through centuries by the Romans, the French the Spaniards, and others.

He admits to being strongly influenced by this mix of cultures and traditions in a region with a deep textile and jewelry heritage, as well as his childhood spent by the sea.

“Those who are born on an island know their boundaries. The sea is a limit, but also makes you want to travel, to escape, to discover…and there is always that wish to return. I would never think to move.”

Three Efisio Marras boutiques still stand in Alghero, from the first single textile shop, which Marras revolutionized with a mix of “luck and recklessness.” He pointed out, for example, that he was the first to bring Fiorucci to Sardinia. Now they sell Antonio Marras and other lines.

antonio marras work (4)

“One of my suppliers kept prodding me to design a fashion collection. I thought he was crazy,” says Marras. At the insistence of his wife, Marras launched a line in 1987 under the Piano Piano Dolce Carlotta label, a translation of the title of the 1964 Bette Davis film Hush…Hush, Sweet Charlotte—movies being another passion.

The line was unveiled at trade show Milano Vende Moda (now Mipap). “But boredom is my personal monster,” he says, and “the collection had become a shopping list of garments.”

The designer recalls he almost quit the fashion business, until he received the invitation from Rome’s couture organizing body. That 1996 collection sparked curiosity.

“Industrialists started to call me, they were curious but perhaps also terrified—‘How could we do a coat with 25 different swatches of fabrics?’” he says in mock-astonishment.

antonio marras work (2)

His signature collection, previously produced by BVM SpA, for which he designed Les Copains and Gibò, is currently manufactured by Castor.

In 2007, he launched I’m Isola Marras, first produced by Interfashion, owned by Stefanel Group. The line is now manufactured by Loma and costs about 40 percent less than the signature collection.

Global sales are about $11 million for the company, which counts five stores: two in Russia, in a deal with Bosco di Ciliegi; one in Kuwait with Al Ostoura, and one each in Milan and Alghero.

The signature line is carried at around 140 multibrand stores, while I’m Isola Marras is available at around 300 doors.

He also sells men’s wear, bags and shoes, and has collaborated with home goods firms for wallpaper and upholstery fabrics. Marras aims to expand in the U.S. and China, and e-commerce began on his Web site about a year ago.

Marras, who was also artistic director of Kenzo from 2003 to 2011, confesses he never longed to become a designer, much less the aforementioned banker. “Rather, I wanted to go to art school and work with my hands.” Although he never went to fashion school or art school, he received an honorary degree from the Brera Academy of Art in 2013.

antonio marras work (1)

Art remains a strong draw and inspiration for Marras. “During my first trip to Milan, when I was 14 years old, I saw Lucio Fontana’s [cut canvas] and I was enchanted. How could one strong incision touch me so and leave such a mark on me? I was amazed. That was the beginning of my curiosity for art,” says Marras, who sketches as he speaks, and enjoys painting.

His store, Nonostante Marras, holds frequent art shows, curated by art critic and writer Francesca Alfano Miglietti. Until last month, for example, there was a show on Italian painter Carol Rama, to whom Marras dedicated his spring line.

Literature is also a major inspiration; his 2015 resort collection was inspired by the Nobel Prize–winning Chilean poet Pablo Neruda. And Marras’ first namesake collection in 1999 was dedicated to Swiss writer and photographer Annemarie Schwarzenbach, who recorded her drive to India through Iran and Afghanistan at the onset of World War II.

Last February, Italian model and actress Benedetta Barzini, now in her 70s, was his muse for fall. Marras wrote a love letter in the show notes, and Barzini was the final exit. (She also walked the designer’s first show in 1999, in a room he filled with trees and wooden planks.)

The fall venue was the latest spectacular set, as Marras transformed a Milan garage into a Trianon-Versailles-like salon, brimming with paintings, rugs and chandeliers.

“The show is a topical moment, where I harmonize all that I like, from art to music and cinema, which help visualize my vision,” says Marras, asked for his thoughts on runway shows at a time when many question their relevance. “It’s not calculated. It’s an important element to tell a story.”


About Segno Italiano

segno italiano with antonio marras

“We tiptoe into workshops to learn and understand and may happen to notice forgotten pieces that have huge potential for us, like the collection of green glass from Empoli that they stopped blowing 20 years ago”, he continues. We aim “to trigger a virtuous mechanism that resurrects lost productions.”

“It may be a reaction to industrial design that no longer has the same production process”, he admits. Points of reference in the design world? “I like Castiglioni’s design and Sottsass’ poetry. Generally speaking, I appreciate design that is well thought out and produced.” ……. Alberto Nespoli ( founder of Segno Italiano )

segno italiano team

Domenico Rocca, Alberto Nespoli and Leo Prusicki,

Segno Italiano is a company that endorses and markets high-quality Italian artisan products internationally. It’s aim is to guarantee the culture and vitality of this wealth of excellent works, composed of products and centuries-old artisan skills spread all over the country.

Segno Italiano constructs project frames that define “Domestic Scenarios”, in which it brings together products that are different but linked to a common topic. The first is that of the Tavola imbandita, homage to all things Italian. The second, Vivere all’Aria Aperta is a eulogy to nature.

The company is involved in creating a system among small, qualitatively significant artisan enterprises through a social and multimedia platform. It also organizes ad hoc events, has set up a discussion blog and creates documentary video.

Its search and selection process is very precise and favours ateliers that have a deep-rooted history in the Italian market – a history that is centennial in most cases.

It protects and promotes districts that have distinctive and peculiar manufacturing values and which are highly recognisable, thanks to the specific details of their products.

Segno Italiano works as a commercial agent on the global market for artisans, as a contemporary editor of excellent products with which to trace scenarios dedicated to Italian domestic life, as artistic director of fashion collections for clients and as interior designer in the private, retail and catering sector.

Segno Italiano’s work centres on the exquisitely Italian and a desire to resurrect productions that have vanished.

“We want to create a system slightly like SlowFood, identifying clusters and working with Italian artisans and hundred-year-old skills”, Nespoli says. This business involves a lot of research but strategy, communication and marketing form an equally key part of it.

Share your thoughts