The 56th edition of Salone del Mobile featured the bi-annual lighting exhibition Euroluce that takes over several pavilions at the Rho Fiera, the official trade fair component of Milan Design Week.
Our My Milan series features interviews with ADA Members to unearth their most memorable experiences, pro hacks and discoveries!
Brisbane-based design studio Luxxbox launched a new lighting collection with Italian brand Panzeri, and we asked principal designer and Luxxbox director Jason Bird for his insights into their MDW19 experience.
Additional text by Anne-Maree Sargeant.
How long have you attended MDW?
This has been my 5th Salone, however I have been travelling to Milan outside of the festival for years for business and pleasure. As a design Mecca, It was one of my first destinations after completing university.
Who did you travel with?
Luxxbox Marketing Manager, and my wife, Kara Chiconi, our good friend and collaborator, Luis Nheu, Design Director at BSPN Architects, and local Milan product designer at Toan Nguyen Studio, Alberto Pasquale.
What were your Salone objectives?
I launched a new lighting acoustic collection with the Italian lighting house Panzeri at Euroluce. It’s a collaboration we’ve been working on for many years and a fantastic new direction for the brand.
With the many events surrounding the product launch,judging by the press and market interest it’s been a tremendous success.
“There’s a magic in lighting – something that elevates the viewer to a different level.
Lighting is the active element in what would otherwise be a ‘still life’. The infinite possibilities when designing lighting and the way light reflects on a surface keeps me constantly fascinated and developing of new products.” Jason Bird
The lamp conceived by Bird is a sound-absorbing suspension lamp that reduces noise, improving acoustic quality in open-space environments – an area of lighting Jason is seen globally as a pioneer.
Read more on the project with THIS INTERVIEW with Jason Bird.
The Isola Design precinct
A new precinct for me, a little bit off the track where Sydney studio Design By Them had a great space showcasing their products for the first time, alongside their collaboration with Australian fashion designer Dion Lee.
Housed in an achingly old building where the minimalist furniture compliments the bare untouched walls. Formerly stables, Italian maestro Michele de Lucchi, whose own studio is adjacent on Via Varese, owns the building.
The US-based design studio led Australian Craig Bassam and partner Scott Fellows, BassamFellows is represented in Australia by Living Edge.
Pezo von Ellrichshausen’s Echo installation
The Chilean architecture studio, with help from Italian lighting brand Flos, created a reflective pavilion structure in the courtyard of Palazzo Litta. Reflecting the beautiful walls of the palazzo courtyard the installation created optical illusions and was simply mesmerizing. Discover more about Echo Installation – here
Giant granite off-cuts at Tom Dixon
Tom Dixon’s new restaurant come showroom, The Manzoni, on Via Manzoni near La Scala – featured a sizable bar constructed from oversized granite off-cuts – a clever reuse of material waste.
Catch the overland train to the fair (not the metro!)
The journey from central Milan to the Rho Fiera showground can be a survival exercise in itself!
By taking the overland train and not the underground metro – you get a seat every time and its only a 12-minute journey vs the 40-minute standing room only sardine can.
Catch the Free Bus from the East entrance to the West entrance. All the best stuff is at the West end, and there is no line to get in. Best of all it saves you the two kilometre walk along the concourse.
“The overland train to Rho Fiera is only 12-minute journey vs the 40-minute ‘standing room only’ sardine can on the metro!” Jason Bird
EDITOR’S NOTE: Having attended Salone since 1987 – how did I never know this pro hack?!!! AMS
The day before the madness descends…
Nothing beats that feeling on the Monday walking through the Brera district before Fuorisalone opens. Everyone trying to catch a glimpse of installations prior to the big reveal. The anticipation is electric and everyone is in a festive mood.
Bar Basso + after dark parties
The Laufen x Snarkitecture party, great drinks with Bar Basso helming the bar in a tight space with hundreds of stacked up sinks.
After all these years Bar Basso remains the central meeting point for late night festivities, with visitors spilled across the pavement and onto the cobbled streets in a traffic stopping congregation of design devotees swilling Prosecco and Negroni until the early hours.
Cos installation by Manou-Mani
People watching on dusk in the courtyard at the Cos installation by Manou-Mani at the Palazzo Isimbardi, set to a purpose designed sound scape was a totally captivating experience.
“Conifera blends the digital with the physical world while addressing sustainability through the use of compostable bio-plastic, produced and 3D printed locally” Manou-Mani
Up Chair sculpture by Gaetano Pesce
The most talked about installation at FioreSalone was undoubtably the giant interpretation of UP by Gaetano Pesce (b.1939).
Dominating Piazza Duomo and celebrating the 50th anniversary of the iconic armchair Up (versions 5 and 6) as a monumental sculpture stood eight metres tall – made from polyurethane foam covered in pink fibreglass.
“I am happy that people react, either positively or negatively” Gaetano Pesce
Created as a protest against the subjection of many women all over the world, no sooner had the ribbon been cut, that the first protests by a group of feminists who sprayed the work with blood-red paint, denouncing the idea of “women as furniture”.
An enveloping armchair, soft and feminine in form, Up was produced in 1969 (and rereleased in 2000) by B&B Italia was so far ahead of its time. Firstly for technological innovation as the armchair was initially made from air sensitive expandable foam that when removed from the vacuum-packed box, slowly self-inflated.
The work was the first Italian design product to have political significance and today the UP 5 armchair is one of the world’s most recognisable chairs. The series is available in Australia at Space.
‘Up’ was the first Italian design product to have political significance.
The sculpture is pierced by 400 arrows representing the numerous cases of abuse that women are subjected to on a daily and surrounded by the heads of six ferocious beasts, symbolising man’s cruelty. READ More on the controversy and the timely discussion about gender equality within the design world in THIS CNN article. //AMS
“It is still impossible for women to work on the same level as men.
In the world of architecture, Gae Aulenti and Zaha Hadid paved the way, teaching us things that many men are still incapable of doing. I think that it will be women how save the world and I want this sculpture to be an opportunity for discussion”
Gaetano Pesce (b. 1939)
PRECIOSA interactive installation
Lighting brand Preciosa created an installation on a rotating platform, where lights illuminated as visitors walked through.
Late night dining
Dinner at midnight with friends after a full day of walking around the fair and a night of parties is a fantastic way to unwind, disengage from the day and share developments and discoveries. Whilst late night dining may not best set you up well for the week to come, MDW is an endurance test for enduring long hours, overladen schedules and sore feet all on minimal sleep!
My own product launch 🙂
Presenting my new product, ZigZag for Panzeri to a packed house of journalists and sales agents was a memorable highlight, the culmination of the lengthy collaboration process required getting any new collection to market.
Trends we won’t be able to ignore
“Yves Klein Blue, Ribbon cables for lighting, Biophilic and wellness in design” Jason Bird
Footnote // Biophilic design incorporates nature into the built environment by designing inspirational and restorative places that connect humans to their surroundings. Natural light, vegetation, living walls, natural textures and materials and nature views are now seen to provide a positive impact with human interaction. // AMS
Most memorable installation / meal / purchase
At FioreSalone (in central Milan) – Louis Vuitton The Objets Nomades exhibitions was an explosion of colour, with the limited edition works executed with exquisite quality of construction and materials – set in an expansive and opulent Palazzo.
At Rho Fiera – Vibia, the Spanish lighting brand delivered on point study in muted colours and demonstrated a masterful understanding of the balance of shade and light. The brand remains a constant inspiration to me as a designer.
Best thing that had nothing to do with design
Lunch at Campanac in Barbaresco was a once in a lifetime experience! A four-hour dining adventure in the heart of the Langhe wine region, presented as only the Italians could deliver, is a unmissable and unforgettable gastronomic experience!!!
Pro tips on post Milan recuperation?
Get out of the city!
Leave by train from Stazione Centrale, the most relaxing way to travel, and head to the beautiful lake side city of Lugano, just 70 minutes away. Spend a day, have lunch, stroll the lakeside Parco Ciani and check out the Reflections of Light art installations by Helidon XhiXha.
On an unlimited budget you’d return home with …….
Bulbo Chair by the Campana Brothers for Louis Vuitton.
Florio Table with its rare Blue Sodalite stone top makes it about 80,000 Euros, by Toan Nguyen studio new collection for Bugatti.
IMAGES // by Jason Bird LUXXBOX
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