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Dispatch from Milan: Design Week in Preview

As the design world convenes in Milan, industry giants get a jump start on the rest of the exhibitors.

By Josephine Minutillo
April 7, 2014
Photo © Architectural Record
At Salone, moooi showcased its newest products set against large-scale prints by veteran architectural photographer Massimo Listri.

The 53rd edition of the Salone Internazionale del Mobile (International Furniture Fair) officially gets underway tomorrow, but Monday in Milan is an opportunity to preview events and product introductions throughout the city center, before the trek to the Massimiliano Fuksas-designed fairgrounds in the Eastern suburb of Rho.

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High-end kitchen and bath line Boffi celebrates its 80th anniversary in 2014, revisiting designs by the likes of Marc Sadler and Piero Lissoni over the decades. B&B Italia, on the other hand, faces its first Salone without charismatic company founder Piero Busnelli, who died in January. Exhibiting as always from its sprawling showroom on fashionable Via Durini, B&B relied on longtime collaborators Antonio Citterio and Patricia Urquiola, who designed an elegant garden and poolside seating line to enhance the outdoor collection B&B began in 2007, and a series of tufted sofas respectively.

Just next door to B&B, Cassina pays homage to Charlotte Perriand with a new version of the LC4 chaise-longue she designed with Le Corbusier and Pierre Jeanneret, finished in leathers from the 2014 Louis Vuitton Icônes collection. Cassina is also reintroducing new versions of Vico Magistretti’s pioneering Maralunga sofa—whose backrests can be positioned either high or low—40 years after it was first launched in 1974.

Despite being an off year for the biennial Euroluce lighting exhibit, Artemide’s introductions were many. The 54-year-old lighting manufacturer reports a 76 percent increase in exports last year, with the U.S., Canada, and new market Mexico among the countries seeing substantial growth. Artemide has a long history of working with architects including Aldo Rossi, Mario Botta, and Zaha Hadid, and this year it unveiled new designs by Daniel Libeskind, Mario Bellini, Jean Nouvel, Michele de Lucchi, and Herzog & de Meuron, whose 2002 Pipe design for the company won the prestigious Compasso d’Oro award a decade ago. Designs ranged from a task lamp by Nouvel developed around the concept of a scale, Bellini’s “luminous curtain,” and Giovanni Giacobone and Massimo Roj’s Eggboard suspension lamp that doubles as an acoustic baffle, to French architect Jérôme Brunet’s wellness and healthcare fixtures meant to make hospital spaces more human.

In the Tadao Ando-designed showroom for outdoor apparel line Duvetica just off Milan’s famed Via Montenapoleone, venerable Venetian glass company Carlo Moretti exhibited intricately fabricated glass sculptures from the private collection of the Moretti brothers. The exhibit celebrates the opening a few blocks away of a new showroom for Carlo Moretti, which was acquired last year by Brand Safe Holding, the same company that owns Duvetica.

By now, design upstart moooi is no longer an upstart, but a fixture on the Milan scene as much as any of the Italian heavyweights, including B&B, which once held a 50 percent share in the Dutch company. Creative director and founder Marcel Wanders recently celebrated his 50th birthday with a major exhibition at Amsterdam’s Stedelijk Museum, on view until June 15. Today, in a cavernous space owned by Tods S.p.A. and used primarily for fashion shows, moooi showcased its newest products set against large-scale prints by veteran architectural photographer Massimo Listri. With introductions including Tudor-inspired cabinets by Joost van Bleiswijk and Kiki van Eijk, a paper desk by Studio Job, and industrial-looking pendant lights made from a plant-based material, moooi’s expanding collection is still as much about the joy of design, as it is about the business of it.

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