April 29, 2002
Notes from Rita F. Catinella Products Editor
En route to Milan
This is the first time I will be attending the incomparable
Milan Furniture Fair (a.k.a. Salone Internazionale del Mobile),
held this year in Milan from April 10-15. The show covers
a total area of 462,000 square meters, and hosts 1,900 exhibitors,
including 240 from countries outside of Italy. This year the
show has two major side shows, including the kitchen show
Eurocucina and the
office furnishings show Eimu.2002
Comfort & Technology. I chatted with a few veteran
publicists and editors at the gate before departure and tried
to get some pre-show hints. Speaking some Italian already
puts me ahead of the veterans, but I expect most people will
speak English anyway.
After a nap, I head out to attend some of the Salone's opening
night events. I put on a skirt and took a 45 minute, 30 Euro
(pronounced here as eh-oo-row) taxi ride across town to the
big Cappellini event. At first Im under the delusion
I would bump into someone I knew. I soon realize I'd be lucky
to even get inside when I discovered a mass of about a hundred
people waiting outside the roped-off entrance. They even had
large Italian bouncers! Once inside, I spot designer Karim
Rashid, and feel comforted to see a familiar face.
I decide to try to find the other parties being held in the
neighborhood. I find the party for Alessi's new line of bathroom
furnishings. The product is displayed underwater in tanks
in the basement, visible through glass floors above. Tiny
fish swim around the bidets, toilets, and tubs in the line.
Across the street, I accidentally walk into a party for Dutch
designer Marcel Wanders' new collection for Mandarina Duck.
This warehouse is filled with conical glass sculptures and
the new wrinkled bags that he has designed for the accessory
firm. The wrinkles were inspired by the impression that you
get on your face from a pillow after a good nights sleep.
I found the Dornbracht party off a field from Via Solari.
Got up this morning and headed out to opening day at the Fair.
Arrived by subway alongside hundreds of other fairgoers. Searched
out the press room and discovered that about 3000 journalists
attend the show. I began my search for the hot new products
of the year at the Satellite show in Pavilion 9. Almost immediately,
I spotted former RECORD cover model and AIA gold medalist
Ricardo Legorreta in the Berlin hotel room he designed as
part of the GrandHotelSalone exhibit. This exhibit features
the vision of hotel rooms for 10 different cities from ten
international architects including Matteo Thun, Ron Arad,
Vico Magistretti, Gaetano Pesce, Toyo Ito, Richard Meier,
Arata Isozaki, Zaha Hadid, and Jean Nouvel. Curated by Adam
Tihany and furnished by some of Italy's foremost manufacturers,
the space functioned like a real hotel, including a front
desk, lounges, and a gift shop. I headed off to view the exhibits
in Pavilion 9, which were very creative, but mostly prototypes
not currently distributed in the U.S.
I quickly moved through some horrible halls filled with Italian
"classic furniture" (read: gold and lacquer) until
I got to the good stuff in the three levels of Pavilion 20including
booths for Kartell, Poliform, Montis, and Rexite.
I met some folks at the Poliform booth to go on a tour of
the factory and showrooms offsite. There I viewed the factory
and saw a piece of a kitchen counter going through the production
line. I then joined the Poliform crew at a cool restaurant
off Corso Como that doesn't have a sign outside (I think it
was called Casablanca or something), and requires patrons
to enter through the security exit. You know you're in a hip
place with that combination.
Another rainy day in Milan. I learned that the weather is
never this bad for the fairó it's always sunny and summer-like.
Headed out for an early appointment at Kartell, where I viewed
their latest offerings and "works in progress." I then headed
over to EuroCucina where I saw endless kitchen counters, frosted
glass doors, and aluminum-fronted doors. Hiding the appliances
behind doors laminated with glossy acrylic or beautiful wood
veneer like wenge is a big thing in Italy. Refrigerators,
dishwashers, etc. are almost never visible.
Got up this morning and headed over to the famous gothic Duomo
in the center of Milan. I took an audio tour, and then went
across the streetwhich was roped off for a foot race
taking place that dayto see the Duomo's museum. I then
set off on my personal walking tour of Milan, stopping at
several furniture showrooms affiliated with the show, including
Driade and Nulifar. The latter was showing some bizarre resin
furniture designed by Gaetano Pesce. I headed over to the
Castello Sforezca and had to run down the street from a pouring
thunderstorm that quickly sprung up while I was inside the
museum. I walked down Via Monte-Napoleane, and did some shopping
at the Galleria.
Headed back to the hotel to pack, because I'm leaving early
tomorrow for the airport. It's been cold and rainy and a tough
show to cover, but I'm glad I came. Maybe next year I'll be
giving advice to other first-timers. Here's a preview if you
are considering going next year: wear comfortable shoes, bring
an umbrella, make sure you don't put all your contact numbers
in your Palm Pilot, and if youíre staying near the Central
Station, don't bother bringing an alarm clock. The 5:57 a.m.
train will do just fine for a wake up call. Ciao Milano!
A roundup of the best products
at the Milan Furniture Fair will appear in an upcoming issue
of RECORD. Stay tuned.