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Indesignlive takes Milan

Fresh daily doses of design news direct from Alice Blackwood at the 2010 Salone.

Indesignlive takes Milan


April 14th, 2010

Milan Day 4

A final blog to wrap up Milan.

In writing this final Milan entry, I should note that I’m still in Milan.

Almost everyone in Europe who had flights leaving on Friday or after has been stranded due to the volcanic ash spreading across the continent!

But for the purposes of the fair, I’m going to call this a day.

Having completed Zona Tortona, as well as two days at the fair, we had only the showrooms, exhibitions and installations to visit – and the majority of these were dotted around the centre of the city.

(However, in saying this, we still did nowhere near the whole program of events and exhibitions on the Milan calendar!)


We saw some beautiful showrooms, in particular Kartell who’d filled their space with Tokujin Yoshioka’s ‘Invisible’ furniture and a forest of spiky, glistening stars… my explanation doesn’t quite do it justice – but the photos do!

snowflake kartell

It was a beautiful installation and reminded us that we’d seen quite a lot of angular, transparent or hard surfaces across a lot of furniture this year.

invisible kartell

These sharp angles and hard surfaces were often contrasted by lush pieces decked in bright velvets and other colourful, plush fabrics – very similar to Giorgetti’s ‘Arabella’ chair in my previous post.

invisible kartell

We saw both trends happily juxtaposed in the Sawaya & Moroni showroom (stocked by Hub Furniture in Australia) – take a look at the images of their collection below.

sawaya and moroni

blue velvet

Definitely not to be forgotten was the Design Village, which housed the Poltrona Frau Group of brands.

The array of unique and beautiful furniture pieces were of a consistently high standard and hopefully will make their way to Australian shores via Corporate Culture very soon.

The cutest of all was the Walt Disney collaboration with Cappellini, which saw Mickey Mouse immortalised on stools and seats. As well as the ‘Raw Edges’ bench by Cappellini.

And on a final note, we couldn’t go past the Droog exhibition, which saw designers transform trash into treasure. Truly!

sawaya and moroni

They’d rescued defunct items from liquidation sales and transformed them into covetable pieces, which they then sold to the public.

A salt shaker became a perfume dispenser, and glasses and belly-button rings became matching sets. It was hilarious.

In covering Milan I’ve nowhere near touched on the many wonders we saw and so I encourage you to check out our pics in the online photo gallery.

They’re not the most professional, but they definitely tell the story!’¨ ’¨

Over and Out.



Friday, April 16, 2010


Day 2 – Milan in the Midst

We finish the fair component with a second day of trekking to discover design scoops.

Patricia Urquiola. What an amazing woman.

There we were, three Australians grouped around her with our recording devices, hanging on her every word, as she talked about her range for Axor by hansgrohe.’¨’¨

The two bathtubs which, to glance at, seem a little out of place in an everyday bathroom (who has space for two!), have been installed as a kind of provocation, says Urquiola.’¨’¨

And while there may be two bathtubs, the real point is that she chose to work with Axor because they know their water.

“They take care of water well,” says Urquiola, referring to hansgrohe’s aerated water technology, which mixes air with water to reduce the amount of water used per minute.

I didn’t think it was possible, but Thursday was more manic than all the days put together. The fair grounds were teeming with people, and as the sun came out, crowds migrated from the halls and out onto the grass to sit and chat.’¨’¨

Having completed just three halls on Wednesday I was determined to conquer at least four on Thursday.

hydra chair by studio Hausen

’Hydra Chair’ by Studio Hausen at the Salone Satellite 2010

Salone Satellite, which is located at the very end of the central concourse, was definitely worth the 20 minute walk. ’¨’¨

I discovered lots of new brands, friendly designers and interesting products.

Among my favourites were outofstock, a group of designers who met in Stockholm and have since been working in Barcelona, Buenos Aires and Singapore… hence the name – Out of Stock(holm).

Also producing beautiful and very resolved work was d.lab, from the School of Design and Environment at the National University of Singapore.’¨’¨

d.lab dblott

Bitt and Bott, designed by d.lab

baxter stand

The Baxter Stand

Highlights from the bigger brands included the Baxter stand (soon to open a showroom in Sydney), which was so busy I could barely see the products for all the people. ’¨’¨

baxter stand

The Baxter Stand

Also Giorgetti (stocked by Space Furniture in Australia) – I took a seat in their cosy new ‘Arabella’ chair, launched here at Milan, and after 10 minutes of blissful lounging I decided it was time to call it a day. ’¨’¨

arabella chair by Giorgetti

The Arabella Chair by Giorgetti

We fought our way back down the main concourse to catch a train to town…


Thursday, April 15, 2010

The Festivities Begin!

Alice Blackwood heads out to the Milan Fair Grounds where thousands of design stalls await her.

poliform wallace

’Wallace’ by Poliform

If you’re thinking of tackling Milan in a fine pair of Milanese heels… it’s a bad idea. Even in the flattest, most ergonomic of shoes your feet get a workout like never before.

We spent a good 10 hours pounding the pavement today, and of the 20 or so Halls and Pavilions at the fair grounds, we managed to complete three… three!

Apparently visitors to the fair last year peaked at around 350,000 and after experiencing it first hand today, I can really believe it.

bubu II range

XO by Phillipe Starck

There’s was almost too much to look at, but of course there were lots of stand-out stalls including XO, where I was lucky enough to catch 15 minutes with both Marcel Wanders and Phillipe Starck, and Magis, where I caught up with Jaime Hayon for a quick chat, Moroso, Parri, Gandia Blasco and Vitra…

Meeting Wanders had to be the highlight of the morning, as he has a fun sense of humour and made it almost impossible for me to ask any boring interview questions.

Of his work which often features the element of the handmade, Wanders says there is beauty in imperfection… and that it is a fairly new invention!

“The fact that a thing has a unique personal identity… we lost this [in the last century]. In my work i’m searching for ways to create objects which have this personality.”

And true to his word, they do. Wanders’ new ’Monster’ chair is a fairly straight-forward black chair… except there is a small angry face that leers out at you.

Speaking with Starck was a big event, with visitors and journalists swarming around him photographing and vying for attention. To speak with him is an intense experience, filled with information and facts. I’ll post my full interview with him following the fair… I just need a little time to digest the information first!

As mentioned, I spent a little time with the affable and friendly Jaime Hayon and I must admit, by the time we met my energy was ebbing. We settled for a relaxed chat and spoke about his work, collaborations and design in very general terms.

Of his collaboration with Magis in particular Hayon says their culture of research and development is greatly appealing, as this is something he is very interested in in his practice.

In finding brands and people to collaborate with Hayon says: “You want to find people who want to challenge the profession. It’s more than just being technical. It’s about relationship.” And his collaboration with Magis very much reflects this.

There is so much more information to download to you all, but let’s be honest, this is online and we want to keep it short and sweet.

I’ve selected a good range of images to show some of the great products I ran across, and if you have any questions you can email me for more information!

Hero image Mini Ming by Phillipe Stark

big arm chair by poliform

Big Armchair by Casamilano

algo by interlubke

Algo by Interlubke

Marcel Wander’s Eden from XO

Phillipe Starck’s Dadada from XO

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Day 1 – Pre Milan Madness

I attend a long list of press previews and product launches, and also talk to Naoto Fukasawa about his work for B&B Italia.

Tuesday is media day in Milan, with press from the world over swarming along the streets and into showrooms, stopping briefly to alight on designers as they mill around their new products awaiting photos and questions.

We launched into our day with a trip to B&B Italia, where I was lucky enough to catch 10 minutes with Naoto Fukasawa. This year Fukasawa is launching the ‘Piccola Papilio’ chair (a smaller version of his original ‘Papilio’ designed around two years ago).

naoto fukusawa

’Papilio’ translates to ’butterfly’ in English, and this is very much the idea behind his chair, with its wing-like back rest which stretches around to touch the outer edges of your shoulders as you sit.

Of his relationship with B&B Italia Fukasawa says: “B&B Italia thinks about comfort, life and environment. They are trying to make very iconic, simplified objects, rather than showing off radical forms.” A philosophy that’s echoed in Fukasawa’s own practice.

Early afternoon was punctuated by a short trip to Established & Sons, where we viewed a series of new pieces, and existing pieces in new versions.


This year’s collection features lots of interesting homewares, with everything from beautifully finished vessels to stationery holders which look like blown glass blobs (take my word for it, they look cooler than they sound!).

There was also a particularly striking carpet on show, designed by Richard Wood and Sebastian Wrong.

est and sons at salone del mobile 2010

Also not to be missed was the Swarovski Crystal Palace – a wonderland of faceted light ricocheting around spaces which had been plunged into darkness.

nicolas gwendal

Each year Swarovski collaborates with designers to create crystal light installations. My personal favourite was by French-born, Japan-based designer Nicolas Gwenael.

You can see the photos here and so I hope I get this correct when I say, he has suspended crystal-encrusted lights (which are battery run), in the middle of transparent helium-filled balls.

nicolas gwendal

And as we walked through the room he captured these and gently bounced them around before they floated up to rest on the ceiling – we all watched on with childlike wonderment.

Today the real fun begins, with the fair opening to the public and thousands of stands to be conquered.

I’ll report back with highlights later tonight… or first thing tomorrow morning if I need a small rest first!

To keep up with the latest news, follow Alice Blackwood on twitter…

Tuesday, April 12, 2010

Bisazza Bound

I find myself on a (very enjoyable) tangent in Vincenza where the Bisazza Headquarters is located.

I’m not particularly gushy, but I’m pretty sure that in the three hours I spent at the Bisazza Headquarters in Vincenza, Italy, I thoroughly overused the words beautiful, stunning and gorgeous.

Designed by the Director of the Bisazza Design Studio, Carlo Dal Bianco, the recently refurbished and extended building serves as the international head office, as well as a museum showcasing a staggering array of (dare I say it?) sublime collaborations between Bisazza and world famous designers such as Ettore Sottsass, Jaime Hayon, Marcel Wanders… the list goes on!

Viewing the Bisazza collections and ranges, you realise there is a vast array of contexts in which tiles can be viewed and used – many of which go far beyond the traditional bathroom and kitchen.

There’s the ‘Furniture Pieces for Men’ by Alessandro Mendini, featuring handmade glass tiles with gold leaf underlay. Here a briefcase, a jaunty hat, a golden glove, and a man’s shoe represent part of the collection of items Mendini believes to be essential to the common man.

marcel wanders

’Mobili per Uomo’ by Alessandro Mendini

Of course Jaime Hayon’s work is absolutely enchanting. This includes an aeroplane with gold propellers, a Bisazza mosaic nose (like a snout!), and a plush cocktail-style lounge on top. This particular project, which was launched at a previous Salone del Mobile Milan, really served as an example of what can be achieved (outside the square) with Bisazza tiles.

jaime hayon at bisazza

Jaime Hayon’s work at Bisazza, Vicenza

These are just two examples of the many wonders I came across. And at this point I should note the amazing Dal Bianco-designed spaces in which each collection, piece or range is situated. Both pieces and space are combined to great (that is, breathtaking) effect.

I was so impressed by the numerous ways in which tiles can be incorporated into interiors (as well as exteriors), both subtly and as a centrepiece. I feel like it’s something we are yet to fully embrace… and if you ever get to visit the Bisazza Headquarters or even one of their Flagship Stores, you’ll be more than ready to jump on the bandwagon!

Tomorrow Salone del Mobile kicks off with an intense afternoon of media previews and launches. Tune in to find out what we see…

To keep up with the latest news, follow Alice Blackwood on twitter…

silver ware at bisazza

bisazza, vicenza

by side patricia Urquiola


Thursday, April 8, 2010


Destination Milano for DQ Editor Alice Blackwood

With the Salone del Mobile just days away, DQ editor Alice Blackwood is on the ground ready to bring us exclusive daily updates from the world’s leading design fair.

Since 1961, the International Furniture Fair has attracted leading designers and manufacturers from all over the world, who make their way on mass to Lombardy’s capital each year to tap into the latest industry trends.

This year the fair promises to be bigger and better, with an extension into the Ventura Lambrate zone, where gallery spaces will be bustling with the ‘designerati’.

Armed with her trusty camera and computer, Alice Blackwood will be bringing indesignlive to the International Furniture Fair, offering us daily doses of her design-related antics.

With her schedule jam-packed with showroom visits, industry launches and interviews with some of the biggest names in the design world, it promises to be a week filled with juicy design news. 

Stay tuned from Wednesday 14 April until Monday 19 April for Alice’s daily postcards from Italy.

Salone del Mobile

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