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Milan Marginalia
4/22/2015

Blau ist das neue Schwarz, Verlobte treffen sich morgens, Partys enden abrupt, ein Rat wird gesucht – und von Rem Koolhaas gibt es endlich eine Türklinke.

It is April, the sun’s smiling, and we’re in Milan, and it’s Salone-time again! In the fair halls in Rho countless current designs and new creations by top international designers are on show on simple palettes or against marble-like booth walls, and business deals are in the air. All around, on the periphery, there are surprising things in orbit. You encounter great people and strange things, there are celebrations afoot and rumors abound. Needless to say, the Stylepark team was in the midst of things.

Cloaks and rooms

Raf Simons has paved the way: The Belgian designer is using the textiles collection he creates for Kvadrat in his fashion work, too. Obviously, others followed suit, with products independent of their role model. Knowledge transfer would be one way to put it. Another would be, it’s all cloaks and rooms.

Stag monument

If you haven’t known to date what to do with those embroidered sofa cushions granny left you, then here’s the answer: The “Embroidery Armchair” by Johann Lindsten, on display at the Cappellini booth.

Council sought

The Austrians make a big splash, the French are at hand, the Dutch activate their “stimuleringsfonds creative industrie” – and the Danes, with able support from GamFratesi actually conjured up a marvelous mirror full of design and arts and crafts in their Mindcraft show in one of the cloisters at San Simpliciano. National design promotion was on display left, right, and center, hardly surprising in Expo year. Even if the powers-that-be in Frankfurt and Berlin may not want to hear it, the question must nevertheless be asked: So where were the Germans? What is the German Design Council up to? After all, its Website permanently declares proudly: “The German Design Council was founded as a foundation in 1953 by decree of the German Federal Parliament to champion good design through its competitions, exhibitions, conferences, seminars and publications.”

Mona and Lisa

When the major Leonardo da Vinci exhibition at Palazzo Reale opened Monday evening, right next door to the “Duomo”, the jam at the entrance meant those who were not early were certainly late. In fact, the queue went right around the piazza and there was not end to it in sight. Not that anyone in it knew whether they’d still be let into the long-overcrowded august halls. Not to be deterred, we returned early Thursday morning to view the drawings of tender women’s faces, martial war machines and “St. John the Baptist”. On spying his finger pointing to Heaven, we realized, a true revelation, and Ferraristi sit up and take note, where Sebastian had learned about the Vettel finger. Not much later, we met both Mona and Lisa in town. The two had arrived specially, fresh from their Parisian exile.

Hip flask for Hipsters

“I love cycling and I love drinks,” explained designer Yorgo Tloupas. So do we. Which is why we also like this two-part bike bidon. Because now you no longer have to take that tough decision of whether to fill your bike-bottle with whisky or water. In fact, you can now even elegantly mix your own G&T when out for a rise. After which it may be better if the bike’s punctured and you continue on your way on foot.

Hit those keys

People tend to sit down to write. And thus lack movement. Office furniture makers have long been thinking about how to assist here, and now there is light at the end of the tunnel. Students of Karlsruhe’s Hochschule für Gestaltung have come up with the ultimate solution as part of the “Rethink the Modular” project launched by USM-Haller. Their “Workout Computer” invariably delivers on leaps in thinking and keeps your entire body fit at the same time. Even if it takes a little practice until you know where the keys are, writing with a real punch is fun.

Share yourselves to death!

At the breakfast for the press, the Airbnb founders didn’t cease emphasizing that their room booking platform brings people together and enables unique moments in a global community. And to imbue this joie-de-vivre backdrop with the right feel, Fabrica agreed to drive the look of the annoyingly saccharine sharing-economy bandwagon, equally annoyingly filling the otherwise truly glorious Palazzo Crespi with DIY furniture and DIY-potato-print jute sacks. Good that taking photographs was forbidden as the visual one-liners would not even have been suitable for Instragram.

Blue is the new black

Or so Jaime Hayon and Stylepark founder Robert Volhard proved in the midst of Jaime’s blue-and-white wonderland for auto marque Mini. But careful when choosing your blue: This is not the one that ostensibly forever characterizes the Bavarian sky, but a blue Yves Klein would have loved.

Hodge-podge

Be it designjunction or DAMn-Magazine – the exhibition does not always live up to its name. Let’s put it differently: The danger that some incessantly cheerful marketing praises items that then turn out on closer inspection to be bereft of any concept, and the choice of what is on show is random, weak and pretty superfluous seems to be on the up. Razzmatazz is one thing, quality another.

Fetish fest

Patent leather and slick Latex and neon script: All of that was on location at Knoll International. The black rubber curtain was reminiscent of the notorious Berlin techno-clubs of the 1990s. Given the décor it was a bit disappointing how staid things were on the booth.

Koolhaas door handle

During the Venice Architecture Biennale last year rumors abounded that the great Rem Koolhaas has actually never designed a door handle, that small but fundamental architectural element … And now we know that the question mark beneath his name at the “Elements of Architecture” show was simply forward-looking marketing. Because he has designed one: The hard-edged Koolhaas handle is now available from Olivari, a bipartite all-round handle that is destined to enable numerous combinations of materials.

Icicles for dessert

Yes, it was almost summer, and what do you then obviously do in Italy? Grab a cone of marvelous Italian ice-cream of course, and enjoy the full heat of spring, for which we no doubt have climate change to thank. The manufacturer of this luxurious stalactite-candelabra evidently thought it was too warm inside. But why is he only dishing out water ice? And what happens if one of the icicles breaks off during dessert, and spikes the dining table?

Morning engagement

Hardly had the fair opened its doors, than there’s a summit meeting at the Kartell booth in front of marbled display walls. Participants in the event: Claudio Luti, MD of Kartell and until recently President of Cosmit and the Salone del Mobile, who’s there to meet architect and designer Piero Lissoni. The latter has contributed the especially lightweight armchair “Piuma” made of a fiber-reinforced polymer-complex and an expansive settee called “Largo” to the myriad of novelties. Both are very upbeat and wander arm in arm around the booth. When we ask to be allowed to take the duo’s photo, Luti quips with a smile: “siamo fidanzati” – We’re engaged.

Techno Barqoue

At Moroso, the children of techno music were busy snuggling up to the Baroque. Spearheaded by David Adjaye with his pompous seating zone called “Double Zero”, which somehow resembled a cheap dream chair from a Teleshopping commercial. That said, it’s hard to top such an arbitrary collection of stylistic attitudes.

Long nights, short parties

Milan during the Salone is always one great circus top. During the day there are all the innovations and the finger-food, at night the parties and the prosecco spritzers. This time, the one or other party was surprisingly short. On the Tuesday evening, Wallpaper Handmade went radical and threw out all the guests at 11 p.m. sharp, on Wednesday evening Tom Dixon then finally held the concert that was meant to take place last year, but then at 9 p.m. the doors closed. None of which was awful, as when the nights are balmy you meet up sooner or later at the Bar Basso.


All pictures © Stylepark – except "Mona and Lisa" © Katja Silbermann