Every April, the streets of Milan flood to welcome an international spectrum of designers, architects, and artists for a week-long immersion into leading contemporary design. This celebration is known as Salone del Mobile, Milano and 2021 marked its 60th year anniversary in practice.
However, this year was quite unlike any other as we know. With the pandemic’s toll and limitations, the mere thought of people flooding any confine of space, outside or in, was enough to thwart the attendance of veteran visitors and big brand investment. As one yearly Salone devotee told me, this year’s version would be “baby Salone,” another told me, “it simply wouldn’t be worth it,” others, unfortunately, could not leave their respective countries to make the pilgrimage.
Frankly, I wouldn’t have known the difference of what’s worth or scale as this was my first visit to the lauded design Mecca with my familial team at
So, Australia, and beyond, here’s my rookie attempt at delivering
We begin. As the saying goes, quality always trumps quantity. And even if this year’s work was at a minimized scale,
Salone 2021 revealed a creative Renaissance that was diligently at work during the pandemic who then came to the surface in Milan with an eager response to design’s collective future before we are left only to react.
I saw and learned of collaborative masterworks, like
At large, I saw a lack of limitation. New hybridities of materials occurred all at once, like with
It was clear to me that in 2020, a tenacious band of designers and curators stole at opportunity with whatever tools and materials were left at hand to make things that really mattered. Supersalone 2021’s standout exhibitors, mentioned below (and in soon-to-come Part 02 of this Milan mega-report), excited and uplifted to challenge paradigms and move the conversation forward. Quickly, we were reminded why we descend upon an entire city, yearly if we can, in the first place. And enlivened by their contagious inspiration, I would be lucky to return in April 2022 to one day become this aforementioned devotee.
Written by Meggie Sullivan of
GROUP SHOWS/ ALCOVA
Abandoned military hospital vibes at Alcova. Photo by DSL Studio/ Piercarlo Quecchia.
Spread installation at Alcova courtyard. Photo by DSL Studio/ Piercarlo Quecchia.
Situated just outside of Milan’s centre, Alcova was a standout destination that more than satiated the curiosities of the adventurous who were willing to step out. The site itself––chosen and curated by Space Caviar and Studio Vedèt—served as a former military hospital and has stood untouched since its abandonment years ago.
Thus, Alcova’s cold tiled corridors, cracked facades, and rusted structures, now overtaken by lush greenery, offered a perfect canvas for Salone’s emerging to veteran talent.
Llot Llov magic at Alcova. Photo by Petra Hurai.
Llot Llov’s Fran lamps, handmade in Latvia.
Agglomerati with Fred Ganim. Photo by DSL Studio/ Piercarlo Quecchia. See more
Agglomerati X Fred Ganim. See more
In an interplay of gravity and the materials’ sheer structural force, Ganim and Agglomerati created a cantilevered and modular shelving series: MASS Large, Medium, and Small. Round Table, a reinvention of Ganim’s early work in 2015, was deftly engineered from a singular block of Quartzite as if it were silk.
Lindsey Adelman’s Paradise installation at Alcova. Photo by Matteo Imbraiani. See more
Not to be missed, was New York City’s Lindsey Adelman and her collaborative work:
Adelman tapped textile designer, Taryn Urushido, to magically disguise electrical wires with her crocheted brass chains. Adelman’s orchestration gave way to a stunning braided assembly of pinned glass globes, chains, and links. Not to be unnoticed, was Adelman’s bespoke brass hieroglyphics, of her own amusing lexicon (i.e. “lol”, “fun is a virtue”,“seek balance”).
Objects Of Common Interest X Etage. Photo by DSL Studio/ Piercarlo Quecchia.
Objects Of Common Interest X Etage. Photo by Stefanos Tsakiris.
Within what was Alcova’s coldest and most dreary of former medical rooms, stood the chromatic, domesticated space-age landscape of FUTURE ARCHAEOLOGY from
In a joyous response to the brutalist-loving environs they were allotted, the teams played with illusion and perception via colour and form inherent in their arched, kinetic, and bubbly works.
Double Up Studio’s (Josefin Zachrisson & Mira Bergh) Seats System.
Making their debut at Salone, Mia Bergh and Josefin Zachrisson, aka Swedish Girls, hosted a near party with Motion Surrounded where their Seats System, a joint work, welcomed visitors to idle and recline in conversation.
The kinetic outdoor-indoor modular bench and table collection was also situated alongside Zachrisson’s independent Mess, a crevassed series of glass vases that delicately held her beautiful violet proteas.
Peel Vases by Alyssa Lewis & Marcela Trejo. Photo by Studio Santiago.
Aracea Lamp by Gupica X Visionnaire. Photo by Elettra Bastoni.
Tapestry 270 by Adaptism. Photo by Emma Batsheva.
Design Academy Eindhoven graduates, Paul Youenn and Eliott Vallin of Adaptism Space, presented, Tapestry 270—a layered investigation into the ways we transition between indoors and outdoors. Upon the Merino Wool tapestry, applied outlines of garment patterns (which could be used if chosen) were encompassed by a visual meta-reference of merino wool fibre observed at a microscopic level. Tapestry 270 serves multiple functions Adaptism sought to recognize: warmth, protection of space (and its users), as well as a whimsical storytelling object.
The Tapestr Collage by Kristina Sipulova + Rita Koszorus Nora and Jakub Caprnka.
Hear My Roooar by Andrey Budko.
Jutta Werner for Nomad. Photo by Anna Daki.
Jutta Werner for Nomad. Photo by Anna Daki.
Jutta Werner for Nomad. Photo by Anna Daki.
Botanica by Leo Rydell Jost. Photo by Luis Venegas.
Giovanni De Francesco for Trame. Photo by Mattia Parodi.
Maddalena Casadei for Trame. Photo by Mattia Parodi.
Artificial Wasteland by Ignacio Subias Albert reimagines the artificial reproduction of grass. Sights of the lawn currently deemed as ‘ugly’ are carefully reproduced in 100% plastic in order to present them as equally desirable ideals.
GROUP SHOW/ MASTERLY
Bloomlight by VOUW Studio responds to the passersby and bends to meet them.
Bloomlight by VOUW Studio at Masterly, Palazzo Francesco Turati courtyard.
The Masterly show, held within Palazzo Francesco Turati’s courtyards and Beaux-arts-adorned hallways, hosted the work of 100 Dutch artisans, makers, and agencies with a curation achieved by Nicole Uniquole.
To start in the courtyard: Amsterdam-based Vouw Studio’s Mingus Vogel and Justus Bruns manifested their philosophy of ‘slowtech’ with Bloomlight. A series of towering lanterns that respond to passersby as if they were a hospitable creature, bend when one approaches. Bloomlight’s technology senses our presence and reacts, blooming open to greet and warm one with light. VOUW notes that their use of technology is an effort to “slow down the world.”
Rive Roshan shared the free spirit of childhood through a collection of carpets painted by their 3-year-old daughter and produced by Moooi Carpets.
With a fantastic take on the prodigal artistic child,
Alongside her carpet, Rive Roshan shared a new range of 3D-printed sand objects also inspired by their dearest Ava, stoking the youthful spirit within us all.
Studio Selma Hamstra at Palazzo Francesco Turati.
GLASSSH by Studio Selma Hamstra.
GLASSSH from Rotterdam-based, Selma Hamstra, featured a series of rose-hued glassworks all crafted and designed by Hamstra—a rare continuity when one asks most designers today, “who made this?”.
Standing nearby, Hamstra’s collection was an ode to her master, Gerte Bullee, and training at Gerrit Rietveld Academy she devotedly noted. With GLASSSH, Semstra took on an academic dive into taming a material that delicately straddles utility, artistry, and craft all too literally, even beyond her own liking, representing an achieved discipline more so than any other medium we may know.
Studio Stefan Scholten presented The Stone House, the first solo project of the Dutch designer since partying ways with Scholten Baijings, the studio he established and ran with Carole Baijings for nearly two decades. Photos by Simone Bossi.
The Stone House by Stefan Scholten of Amsterdam-based Studio Stefan Scholten, marks his solo debut collection commissioned by Stone Made Italy.
A sustainable material investigation, Stone House integrated terrazzo with what-would-have-been discarded offcuts of marble, sourced from local quarries near Forte dei Marmi, Italy. The collection of chairs, dining tables, a stone ‘carpet’, wall, and coffee table reveal a brand new technology that values imperfection and an amalgamation of color, pattern, and minimalist line.
Hermes installation. See more
With tactility and technique being the major focus of
Amongst the volumes, the new home collection could be found, and highlights included designs such as ‘sillage d’Hermès’, a chair with an endearingly organic form, designed by Studio Mumbai. The presentation set out to examine the characteristics and technical approaches behind the brand’s creation of raw and natural materials. The environment toed the line between tradition and innovation — and as one would expect from the storied French house — evoked warm feelings of refinement, comfort and elegance. See more
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