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Though regarded as the most important week in the design industry, Milan’s Salone del Mobile still lacks the glitz of the Venice Biennale or the parties of Art Basel Miami Beach. But, that’s a good thing: the design industry remains a serious and intellectual circle that descends onto the Italian capital to look for inspiration. Milan emerged after the Second World War as an epicenter for furniture design, and increased their profile in the ’80s with studios like Memphis and Alchimia and shelter bible, Domus; all catapulting the expressive and distinctly Italian design interpretation considered functional into the foreground. Even though New York gives Salone a run for its money with ICFF, and London with its Design Festival, this seminal Milan fair still culls together every key industry talent — designers, studios, and brands — often resulting in mind-bending, heart-melting innovations. Whitewall begins its recap of the event (through Friday), which closed Sunday, April 14, with three new collaborations that push the boundaries of aesthetics and technology.
Bottega Veneta has a reputation for working with leather and weaves, and Nancy Lorenz for paint and having spent time in Tokyo. So, when the legendary luxury goods company set out for a third artistic collaboration, Lorenz came to creative director Thomas Maier’s mind. For the revered design fair, Lorenz crafted small boxes — objets de vertu for letters, photos and jewels — and cradled precious materials like mother-of-pearl, and silver and white gold into Bottega Ventea’s supple staple. Lorenz, who toes-the-line between fine and functional art, applied her painterly touch to the coffer lids where the metals blend to create stunning abstractions. The physical properties of the materials were stretched, leaving cracks and unintentional marks that only enhanced the uniqueness of each box. Introduced at Salone del Mobile, the 25 one-of-a-kind pieces will continue to be available through the personal shopper at skiesandbeyond.bottegaveneta.
Moltenti&C and Salvatore Ferragamo
The mid-century modern craze may be turning towards color and chintz, yet there is no question that industrial will not die — a note that Wallpaper and Elle Décor’s “2013 Designer of the Year” Ron Gilad infused into his collaboration with Moltenti&C and Salvatore Ferragamo. Since Gilad released a capsule collection for the modernist furniture company, it was only fitting that when Ferragamo moved its Milan flagship to Palazzo Ferrania, the 1936 masterpiece by Gio Ponti, Gilad celebrated the occasion with a nod to the Italian tradition. What emerged is 45° Vitrine — a glass étagère with rounded edges (45 degree angles, hence the name) allowing clarity of vision from every perspective. Naturally, since Ferragamo is showcasing the Gilad’s Grado° collection for Molteni in their Milan windows, the luxury house too has produced special edition of women’s and men’s bags to complete the triangle in this three-way collaboration. Made of semi-precious skins, four editions in total feature functional and industrial clasps — and will be locked up in the 45° Vitrine during the fair.
The debate on barefoot running may be going strong, but for those who hail not from the Tarahumara tribes of Mexico, Nike has a solution. Enter the Nike Free and Flyknit editions: sneakers that enhance the body’s natural force of motion but bear no weight on the feet (and improve foot strength over time). Because the pioneering athletic company believes in both form and innovation, these new pro-performance kicks were produced with a little help from three cutting edge design studios to amp up their wattage. Universal Everything, Quayola + Singaglia, and Daniel Widrig came together to create an immersive installation at the Salone del Mobile entitled “The Art + Science of Super Natural Motion,” which features visual atmospheres (Everything UK), motion-graphic videos (Quayola + Singaglia) and a time-based digital sculpture (Daniel Widrig). Nike aimed to create an environment where the full expereince would be accesible — even to those not in shoes… or Reeboks.