Milan Marginalia 2016
Apr 20, 2016

Konstantin verfolgt Jasper, Franco hat den Bogen raus, Marcel fehlt die Zeit, Vitra betreibt ein Nagelstudio – und Gemüse verrät per Touchdisplay, was es wiegt.

Milan in April, there’s a lot going on, on the streets, in a church, in the showrooms and the trade fair halls. Eventi, eventi, wherever you go, and wherever you look. No lack of “design after design” – with prosecco, nice people, and surprises. Once again this year the Stylepark team was in the thick of things.

Rapidité, rapidité, rapidité

Tuesday, first day of the Salone and FuoriSalone, about 10 p.m.: Jasper Morrison blazes the trail. Burns by on his black bike (can’t check out the brand and the speed at which he’s traveling, but it’s a cool one) taking a left at Via Palermo (although it’s a one-way street) into Via Solferino. There’s no tying him down. Behind him – on the new icon of the Milanese streets, namely a rented bike – rushes Konstantin Grcic. Two guys setting the pace. Thanks to “bikemi”, showroom and event hopping are now a “cosa semplice”. (ua)

Lee on the road

Last year he fitted out an entire department store with his novelties. This year Lee Broom took to the road, and conveyed simple globe luminaires in a van through the city. However, his ego has not suffered from this radical downsizing, as was evident in Via Solferino in front of kitchen manufacturer Boffi’s showroom. (jj)

Ding, ding, ding

What, exactly, is the sound of Milan? This is a question the artist Chiara Luzzana investigates in her project “The Sound of City” by recording the warning beeps of a reversing garbage truck just as much as the sound made when typical Milan metal lattices clink. The city resounds incessantly. Even the Triennale exhibitions have background music with a touch of the esoteric about it. Things take on a more tangible approach in the kitchen equipment hall, where Gaggenau has a Hephaestus appear. Even from a distance one can hear his regular ding, ding, ding. The blacksmith and designer Tom Carstens (his real name) from Degerndorf is making nails there in way similar to how the hammer smith and nailer Gaggenau did around 1683. This way the company is marking its 333rd anniversary. It is rhythm that is decisive, says Carstens, not power, “that comes on its own”, and swings his hammer again. (te)

Design in a bathrobe

Whether in the middle of the Brera or in an outlying district, the posters advertising the resurrected Triennale and its theme “Design after Design” are everywhere in Milan. For example, you see a man in a bathrobe standing in front of a stove. Or one crouching in front of his bed. The first man is holding a strange yellow object, the other seems to be gazing admiringly at the same item. Neither seems able to rid himself of the object, which, incidentally, also goes for the Triennale. (tw)

Recurring curve

Regular visitors to the Salone are familiar with them: the curved red handrails in the stations of Milan’s M1 subway line. Now the curve has cropped up again in an armchair base in Cassina’s showroom. It is hardly surprising, however, as the chair called “Tre Pezzi” is the re-edition of a design by Franco Albini, the man who designed the M1 line stations of the Metropolitana di Milano, which opened in 1964. (jj)

Waiting for Marcel Godot

The man is essentially omnipresent: Moooi, Poliform, Cybex, Magis, Baccarat, Louis Vuitton, Safilo… He is tangibly close at hand, and yet so remote. A fixed date evidently means in the one or other universe nothing but: nothing! But even my schedule is tough, which is why this time all good things come in threes – and the interview with Marcel Wanders becomes pointless after two tries fail. In future I guess I’ll call him Godot. In short: I can play the diva, too! (ua)

Cycling creations

Movement and reality have finally come to design. You need not be a prophet in matters of urban mobility to notice that the future belongs to the bicycle. And when Dario Pegoretti – a legend when it comes to high-quality, individual frames for racing bikes – Uwe Fischer, Hans-Georg Pospischil and students from the State Academy of Art and Design in Stuttgart put their heads together you get 15 truly surprising and innovative creations related to the bicycle – from an innovative saddle to a jacket that inflates to draw attention and make for greater cycling safety. And where better to present “Più di Pegoretti” than at Rossignoli in the middle of Brera. (tw)

Elevating TV design

It is probably one of the most-viewed products in Milan: the flatscreen television by the Bouroullecs! Many manufacturers seem particularly relieved that there is now a TV with an acceptable design, and therefore chose to display “Serif” in their home scenarios. Incidentally, the television will also soon be available in Germany. Not in a media store, however, but in the Vitra and Ligne Roset showrooms. (jj)

Mind the gap

The trade-fair complex which is bathed in the deep red of the corporate design of the Salone del Mobile each year, is itself now 10 years old. To this day, it is fascinating how architect Massimiliano Fuksas laid out the pavilions, placed paths between them and then positioned glass roofs over the connectors, roofs that resemble so many transparent sheets laid gently over the walkways. And the complex perfectly accommodates visitors. With one tiny exception that all regular users of the press center on the first floor of Centro Sud at the trade-fair complex know only too well. Anyone heading from there for the fair immediately spots an access point almost on exactly the same level. What wouldn’t you give to be able to simply head straight for it? All the more so given that it feels like you have to walk 15-30 kilometers every day round the trade-fair grounds, through railway stations, underpasses and the streets of Milan with their coarse paving slabs and high curbs.
Instead of which you are forced to go down a flight of stairs, walk the whole way along to the podium at which you had just gazed with such yearning, and then back up a flight of stairs. Sure, it’s a minor detour. Nevertheless, you soon find yourself cursing the planners who dreamed up this hole. Perhaps a drawbridge would help? Or at least a steady plank or a rope that would let you swing across this design gap like Tarzan heading for Jane? Experts claim it all has to do with escape routes that were deliberately kept separate. In other words, an error caused by compliance to strict standards. Be that as it may: The gap is still there. At least no one can stop you imagining you are omnipotent and can simply jump across the gap, or, failing that, delicately move with balanced step along its edge? No way by the third day of the Salone! (TE)

Busy bee

This busy bee does not fly from flower to flower – it delivers them. After all, Milan is not only the city of Duomo and palazzi, for hidden away in inaccessible courtyards or on lush green roof terraces the Milanese also tend many magnificent gardens to counter the gray of the concrete jungle. (jj)

Hands-on design

“Design after Design” – unfortunately the topic of the Triennale has proven to be somewhat abstract and very much open to interpretation, with the result that often all we see is a presentation of objects. Not so with “Hands On”, the German contribution. The German Design Council has recognized the importance of the changes taking place and organized a project with schoolchildren focusing on participation, teamwork, the design process, and problem-solving skills. In a temporary design studio with a workshop atmosphere young people tackle projects supervised by renowned designers. The aim: to fill the compartments on the studio’s outer wall with the solutions from their intensive hands-on creative activity. A handmade poster by Erik Spiekermann rounds out Germany’s contribution. (tw)

Pyramid-like feeling

The contrast could hardly have been greater: One the one side, the Hermès Home Collection, the epitome of perfection. On the other, the 17,000 bricks that go to make up the setting for the presentation at Teatro Vetra – essentially coarse, almost unfinished. Charlotte Macaux Perelman and Alexis Fabry, the two new artistic directors at the French luxury label, gave Mexican architect Mauricio Rocha carte blanche for the building. And he came up with a structure reminiscent of the interior of a pyramid, that playfully alternates light and shadow to constantly create new angles of vision – as mysterious as it is masterful. (ua)

Hella’s nail studio

Hella Jongerius is the designer behind the color of sofas, chairs and cushions at Vitra. The Dutch designer also demonstrates taste in a whole range of nail varnishes, which visitors to “Casa Vitra” could try out. The only shade we were not quite sure about: mouse gray. (jj)

Planetary crockery rack

“Zona Tortona” was once an exciting blend of experimentation, dreams, and reality. Nowadays street artists and makers of gizmos, not to mention brands from all sectors, are becoming established here, frequently with, if anything, short-term commercial interests. Exceptions such as Moooi and e15 confirm the rule. So it is astonishing that Miele is staging its visionary presentation “The Invisible Kitchen” precisely here. In a darkened room a circular transparent structure stands on four metal supports, a type of giant crockery rack, illuminated by LEDs in changing colors. The elder generation at least may recall the cover art of a 1977 “Electric Light Orchestra” LP, which the illustrator Shusei Nagaoka created, depicting a brightly colored spaceship. There is otherwise little sense here of the effective rock (“Don’t bring me down”, “Confusion”) by the British answer to the Gibb brothers. Rather of confusion created by engineering. In future, for example, vegetables will tell us by touch display how much they weigh, what parts they have, and where best to cut them. And for all those who settle down on the large circular sofa beneath the hovering construct, there is entertaining instruction to be had. About planning, cooking, and tidying up in tomorrow’s kitchen. And it projects the correct place for plates and cutlery right onto the table, because in the future as well it will be about not getting anything wrong as far as old cultural techniques are concerned. What a nice learning effect! (te)


At night Ingo Maurer not only bathes Milan’s most brutalist high-rise, Torre Velasca, in blazing red light; he does the same with a church on Piazza Sant’Eufemia, Chiesa San Paolo Converso from 1631, which today houses an architect’s studio. The result is an intriguing interplay between the Baroque architecture, murals and frescos by the Campi brothers from Cremona, and Maurer’s suspended light objects. (tw)

Pictures © Stylepark – Uta Abendroth, Thomas Edelmann, Jasmin Jouhar, Robert Volhard, Thomas Wagner