I have come to realize that every design event has an algorithm for each person attending it, created as we make choices as to what to see and what we (sadly) have to miss. This is especially true when a venue is as sprawling and chock full of products as the Salone del Mobile (iSaloni), and when a city is as jam-packed with design venues and events as Milan, Italy, is in April of each year.
The signs that I would have an absolutely mythic trip showed up early and often this year, beginning when I spied Marcel Wanders standing in front of the brand new Moooi showroom across the street from my flat my first morning in town. There stood the dashing designer, leaning against the building so nonchalantly he looked like the Dutch version of a Roman god smoking a cigarette!
The showroom, at via Savona 56, was darkly beautiful with its black walls and pools of light illuminating artfully composed vignettes, which I’ve aptly seen described as “product haikus.” Maison Christian Lacroix’s Jewels Garden carpet was among Moooi Carpets’ new releases (shown above). Riveting visages by fine-art photographer Rahi Rezvani were made all the more powerful displayed in super-human scale as they were. You can see for yourself above in the second image in this post.
Though there is always an edge where new releases by Moooi are concerned, there was no shortage of whimsy this year. Case in point is Wanders’ giant rocking unicorns, called Arion, made of solid wood and adorned in embroidered white leather. About the special edition pieces for sale, Wanders said, “Yes: it is a rocking unicorn the size of a grown up!”
The idea of having an adult-sized toy wasn’t the only nostalgic algorithmic skew I saw in Milan. Italian lighting brand Karman created such a dreamy backdrop at iSaloni’s Euroluce it was tough to make myself leave the garden-inspired setting. When I spotted the Scrivimi pendants glowing in one section of the stand, I had one of those gleeful moments that make me so happy I write about design.
Matteo Ugolini’s inspiration for the ceramic fixture are the wadded pieces of paper a writer or poet tosses to the side when inspiration is streaming forth. When I saw it, I had a flash of Ernest Hemingway in his Paris apartment trying to get his “true sentences” down on paper as the fire blazed nearby. I enjoyed interviewing Ugolini for this Global Trends article, and I suggest you remember his name because he is definitely a design-talent to watch. Both the Scrivimi and Ti.Vedo are now included in the Stratos Collection.
I also had the pleasure of meeting Danish designer Tom Rossau while cruising Euroluce with my client Global Lighting. Rossau is shown above with his TR25 and TR24 pendants. These new introductions, along with his tried-and-true TR14 pendant, are so elegantly beautiful in person I stood mesmerized longer than I intended.
But my hands-down favorites were his Pencil Lamps, which made my heart go pit-a-pat. What writer worth her salt wouldn’t fall in love with a lighting fixture with a lampshade made of real pencils? The shadow these table lamps (as well as the pendants and floor lamps) cast on surrounding surfaces is simply a beautiful bonus—an achievement I noticed with many of Rossau’s complex compositions.
It was arcing shapes that created a sense of nostalgia in the Foscarini and Arper booths at iSaloni. Though the movement precedes both products, Arper’s Duna 02 Trestle Swivel (above) and Foscarini’s Lumiere 05 (below) tweaked my algorithm toward mid-century modernism with leg/pedestal styles that harken back to that heady time in design.
While I was skulking around in the Arper stand, I spotted maestro designer Jean Marie Massaud having an animated conversation with a lucky journalist while seated on his new Steeve sofa being introduced this year.
There are other angles of the trip I will be covering in the weeks to come, both here and on Improvateur. The Satellite section, featuring the young talent, will get its own post, as will the exhibition Leonardo 1452-1519. And I’ll be riffing on the Productrazzi Algorithm for NYCxDesign here soon so stay tuned.
Text of The Productrazzi Algorithm for iSaloni © Saxon Henry, all rights reserved. Saxon Henry is an author, poet and journalist based in New York City. Books include Anywhere But Here and Stranded on the Road to Promise. She also produces The Diary of an Improvateur and is a columnist on Architizer. *Global Lighting is a client but the association in no way swayed the opinions contained within this post.