Emerging from the pandemic, the design industry, like most of us, has changed. The past two and a half years, which have involved an incalculable loss of life and calls for social-justice reform amidst an increasingly pressing climate crisis, have formed a solemn backdrop. In March 2020, almost at once, in the locked-down lives of many, the notion of “home” and the role of design shifted. As opposed to straight function or beauty, design came to represent a sense of greater comfort, healing, and care.
Now, just a few days away from Italy’s 60th Salone del Mobile design and furniture fair (June 7–12), and the concurrent citywide presentations of Milan Design Week—which together form what has historically been seen as the most significant global showcase of trends and ideas in the trade—the impacts of this historic period on design will come into focus. The festivities follow much anticipation: After canceling its 2020 iteration, Salone presented a pared-down version, called “Supersalone,” last September, and postponed this year’s fair from April to June, followed by weeks of wondering if the FederlegnoArredo, Salone’s governing body, would enact further delays. “This Salone will be really important from many perspectives,” says architect and designer Alberto Biagetti, who runs the Milan-based studio Atelier Biagetti with his wife, the artist Laura Baldassari. “It’s a way of bringing us back to life. I think it’s going to be magic.”
Biagetti and Baldassari have spent most of the pandemic in Milan, thinking about how their definition of home expanded to include parks, streets, and the city beyond its walls, and how all the extra time during lockdown helped them to see such places, in a way, for the first time—with childlike wonder. They also saw how isolation affected their young daughter, who approached them one day with a drawing. “She drew a landscape full of giant cats, and it was surreal and imaginary,” Baldassari says. “She told us, ‘I would love to have a big cat to hug.’ We understood that probably everyone would love a big cat to hug in that moment, to experience that kind of unconditional love.”
Biagetti and Baldassari have channeled the artwork into an interactive, indoor-outdoor installation called Pet Therapy (Piazza Arcole, 4), debuting next week, filled with outsize yet functional feline-shaped sculptures. It may be an out-there concept, but it’s milder than, or at least on par with, the studio’s previous Milan presentations, which included a conceptual clinic where visitors could receive “treatments” to re-establish their sexual equilibriums. The designers said that that kind of outrageousness or irony didn’t feel right in this particular moment. For them, creating a sense of awe and interspecies awareness was more essential.
Apparently, other designers are thinking similarly. The Italian studio Formafantasma, a creative collaboration between designers Andrea Trimarchi and Simone Farresin, has developed the symposium Prada Frames (Via Brera, 28), focused on forests. It will consider how design and science can be agents of change in these vital ecosystems through presentations by leaders from various disciplines, including curator Paola Antonelli, architect Stefano Boeri, writer Amitav Ghosh, artist and researcher Sissel Tolaas, and anthropologist Anna Tsing. Over at the Teatro dei Filodrammatici, the Italian furniture company Moroso and the Danish textile company Kvadrat will mount the plant-focused spectacle Forest Wandering (Via Filodrammatici, 1). Created with Swedish designers Sofia Lagerkvist and Anna Lindgren of Front Design, the immersive experience of light, sound, and projected images aims to evoke the natural environment, and builds on the designers’ research into the therapeutic effects of nature on people’s physical and mental health. (Moroso, on the occasion of its 70th anniversary, will additionally present new pieces by Patricia Urquiola, Front Design, Jonathan Olivares, and Wieki Somers in an installation with Kvadrat Really, the fabric brand’s upcycled materials arm, in Moroso’s Milan showroom, at Via Pontaccio, 8/10.)
At the Triennale di Milano, French designer Mathieu Lehanneur will debut “Inventory of Life” (Viale Emilio Alemagna, 6), an exhibition of four large-scale installations curated by Maria Cristina Didero. Scientific data from the United Nations, the World Health Organization, and satellite-generated photographs, commissioned specifically for the occasion, inform each gallery. Rising sea levels and the meanings behind the nuanced colors of the ocean will be among the subjects tackled. “Superbloom” (Viale Umbria, 49), an exhibition by the Los Angeles design collective Rios, also looks to nature—specifically, the rare phenomenon its presentation is named for, in which large quantities of wildflowers, whose seeds have laid dormant in desert soil, germinate and blossom at the same time. Three immersive rooms will simulate, in a multisensorial way, the occurrence’s biological processes, including the watering, propagating, and blossoming of flora, to dazzling effect.
The feeling that the pandemic has shifted the consciousness of the larger global design community and given it renewed purpose resonates with Milanese architect Paolo Brambilla. “Design has taken on a new role, which is one of responsibility, sustainability, and for people, in addition to the planet,” he says. Together with his business partner, architect Fabio Calvi, Brambilla served as a design curator for “See the Stars Again” (Via Orobia, 15), a presentation by the Italian lighting company Flos that features a robust program of talks, workshops, and entertainment activities that celebrate the 60th anniversary of the brand and of its beloved fixture the Arco lamp, designed by brothers Pier Giacomo and Achille Castiglioni. (The Slowdown produced the audio component of the exhibition, to illustrate the stories behind the lighting fixtures on view via a “mini-podcast” format.) This effort offers multiple ways for visitors, inside the industry and out, to connect with the pieces on view—something that was key for both Flos and Brambilla. “Design does not make sense if it’s exclusive,” he says. “At the end of the day, Flos is a human-centered design company. And I think this kind of spirit will be reflected in the events and experiences you’ll see during design week.”
An emphasis on the environmental benefits of high-quality craftsmanship—including its traits of longevity and reverence for materials—will be evident in various presentations around town. In its Milan flagship store, the Danish furniture brand Carl Hansen & Søn (Via Arco, 4) will introduce two projects: a collaboration with London-based designer Ilse Crawford that sees Hans J. Wegner’s iconic Wishbone chair (1949) rendered in nine matte colors, to mark seven decades of its production by the company, and a reintroduction of the high-backed, solid oak Windsor chair (1938), designed by architect and cabinetmaker Frits Henningsen, that was continuously in production until 2003. The latter, now with a leather seat cushion, involves multiple carpentry techniques and requires an experienced joiner to make it; the sculptural result speaks to the vast possibilities of its material in the right hands.
Expertly crafted wood furniture also appears in “Cipango: Japan Reimagined” (Via Alessandro Tadino, 2), an exhibition, set in a residential apartment, curated by The New Era editor-in-chief Hanna Nova Beatrice and Gabriel Tan, creative director of the Japanese design brand Ariake, which is presenting the project—its Milan Design Week debut. The made-in-Italy collection includes pared-down pieces by Inga Sempé, Keiji Ashizawa, Norm Architects, Neri & Hu, and Zoë Mowat. Another Japanese brand (and Milan Design Week first-timer) called Koyori will reveal its inaugural collection—singular wood chairs by Paris-based brothers Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec, and by the Danish-Italian design duo GamFratesi—at the Triennale di Milano, in an exhibition titled “The Twist: Cultural and Emotional Crossings.”
Artistry will abound in several other standout presentations: The Italian glass-mosaics company Bisazza (Via Solferino, 22) will debut new mosaics from both the French architectural firm Studio KO and the Venetian architect Carlo Dal Bianco; the Italian design brand Vero (Via Felice Casati, 3) will offer its second collection, in a streetwear-style drop, that includes refined pieces by New York artist Sam Stewart and the Venice design studio Zaven; and the sixth Doppia Firma exhibition (Corso Magenta, 24), presented by the Michelangelo Foundation, will show a series of commissioned pieces by designer-artisan pairs, including India Mahdavi and Longwy; Atelier Oï and Wonder Glass; and Philippe Nigro, with Jeff Mack and Chris Rochelle.
In addition to the Milan Design Week stalwarts Hermès (Via Turati, 34) and Louis Vuitton (Via Bagutta, 2), this year several other luxury fashion brands are coming to town with projects, installations, and activations, too. Among them is Dior, with Miss Dior (Via Brera, 12), a fresh version of Philippe Starck’s iconic Louis Ghost armchair (2002), reimagined by the French designer for the Parisian fashion house, whose founder admired the Louis XVI style that informed the original seat. This iteration sees the chair, manufactured in Italy using the world’s only injection-molding machine capable of creating its distinctive shape, in aluminum. At the Salone fairground, the Italian cashmere and fabric house Loro Piana, via its interiors arm, will have a presence in the Italian design brand Exteta’s booth, where it will showcase the Delight St. Moritz, an elegant interpretation of the classic director’s chair by Italian designer Paola Navone, upholstered in its latest textiles. (Also worth mentioning, but not elaborating on, is that both Ralph Lauren and Dolce & Gabbana, respectfully, will be touting their newly opened home-centric “World of” and “Casa” Milan outposts.)
Compared with bulky pre-pandemic Salones of yore, this year’s fair will still be a somewhat slim affair. Festivities and brand exercises aside, the reality of a world still in recovery remains. Nicolas Bellavance-Lecompte, co-founder of the roving design fair Nomad and owner of Carwan Gallery in Athens, says, “For me, we are not back to the previous idea of what Salone was,” noting that Covid-19-related travel restrictions and ongoing sanctions will surely reduce the number of exhibitors and visitors from Asia and Russia, though he does expect more Americans than usual this year. He also anticipates a greater presence of companies that overcame recent economic setbacks. Many brands have “reinvented themselves,” he says, “and the economy has reinvented itself. So this Salone will be a culmination of a new market typology, led by those who managed to have success during the pandemic.”
Bellavance-Lecompte himself is maintaining a positive outlook toward the future, with plans to bring his traveling fair to a new, strategic location—a Mediterranean island—in July. He and guests will toast next week during a Nomad Capri cocktail (Corso Italia, 47). Ever interested in the up-and-coming and what’s new and next, he’s eager to see the works on view at Alcova (Via Simone Saint Bon, 1), where exhibitions by established and emerging designers (including one from wallpaper company Superflower Studio, co-founded by Nicole Bergen and The Slowdown’s Andrew Zuckerman) look inward, outward, and beyond.
Elsewhere, certain brands will reflect on the time ahead by embracing technology. “A Life Extraordinary in Milan” (Via S. Gregorio, 29), a presentation by the Dutch design brand Moooi, will include a multi-sensory experience of tech-enabled interiors, made in collaboration with IDEO and LG OLED, and with Polish artist Ada Sokol. Another forward-looking happening, Lexus’s “Sparks of Tomorrow” (Via Tortona, 27), expands on the car company’s future-oriented approach to design with various installations. They include the environment “On/,” featuring a to-scale steel sculpture of the RZ, the first dedicated electric model in Lexus’s lineup. Other parts of the presentation include prototypes from Lexus Design Award 2022 finalists and projects by postgraduate students from the Intelligent Mobility Design program at London’s Royal College of Art, which comprise inventive vehicle designs that address today’s environmental challenges.
Taken together, the many events slated for this year’s design week suggest that as the world evolves—and the design industry with it—the enduring relevance of the event will remain unchanged. Still, it may become, for the better, more concerned with nature and the planet. And as with our present-day reality, it won’t be returning to “normal” any time soon, or at least until next year. “Many people are still afraid to go full-on with events and presentations,” Bellavance-Lecompte says. “But Milan has always been the most important global appointment for the industry. I think it will keep its role in that way.” Only time, and the 2023 edition, will tell. Perhaps by then the annual gathering will not only be back in full force, but also be empowered by a shared sense of design’s profound impact on life on earth.
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To stay healthy, we know that our bodies need nourishment, hygiene, and exercise. According to those who study neuroaestEp. 34 of our At a Distance podcast) who runs the International Arts + Mind Lab (IAM Lab)—an initiative at John Hopkins University’s School of Medicine that connects brain scientists with artists to Arts + Health & Wellbeing, an immersive online tool kit that offers visitors an engaging dose of art, and consequent mental fitness, from anywherEp. 11 of our Time Sensitive podcast.)
“A question I get asked a lot is, ‘How do I get your job?’” says stylist Kate Young. “That answer is complex, because pe10th episode of Hello Fashion, created with The Slowdown.
Practically everything the artist, master potter, and writer Edmund de Waal touches turns to dust. Or at least toward the idea of dust. In each of his books—2010’s The Hare With Amber Eyes, 2015’s The White Road: Journey Into an Obsession, and the just-published Letters to Camondo (Farrar, Straus, and Giroux), out this week—dust serves as a profound metaphor. Throughout his work, whether in pottery or prose, de Waal explores various notions a
From a fashion perspective, the Golden Globes stands apart from other award shows for its timing: The event, during whicleft at that point,” says stylist Kate Young in the ninth episode of Hello Fashion (created with The Slowdown), noting that she usually starts working on Globes outfits around Halloween. For the episode
Julian Sancton knows a thing or two about bone-chilling temperatures. “For a while, I’ve been visiting a friend’s uncle’Departures magazine for nearly a decade. Despite the getaway’s frigid conditions, he continues, “It’s just so beautiful, and gave Belgica spent a sunless winter frozen in the Antarctic ice. Sancton traces the historic voyage, which wasn’t exactly smooth saiMadhouse at the End of the Earth: The Belgica’s Journey Into the Dark Antarctic Night (Penguin Random House), out this week. We recently spoke with Sancton about what he read during his research, and the ne Tell us about some of your favorite books on polar expeditions.
Arts education opportunities faded fast for kids in the learn-from-home fog of Covid-19. That’s where The Look Make Show, a new TV program by New York City’s Children’s Museum of the Arts, hopes to come in. The cartoon, of which the creatorKickstarter campaign through May 14, focuses on Rod and Coney, two rotund, charismatic artists who refuse to let the pandemic get in the way
Seasoned stylist Kate Young never arrives at any event unprepared. Whether it’s the red carpet, a shoot, or a press funcOn the seventh episode of Hello Fashion, created with The Slowdown, Young shares some of the essentials she places inside every travel bag, along with insider
Debates about whether encyclopedic museums—institutions that collect and contextualize cultural artifacts across time an—should act as more than mere repositories date back decades, but have taken on a new urgency as of late. Now, institutioEp. 12 of our At a Distance podcast), tackled these topics through interviews with nearly 30 leaders, and compiled the conversations in a new book, Under Discussion: The Encyclopedic Museum (Getty Publications). We recently spoke with Grau about the future of institutions and the layered, ever-evolving narra What central issues do encyclopedic museums face today, and what prompted you to explore them?
When attending runway shows, stylist Kate Young keeps her eyes peeled for premiere dresses—gowns to be worn by actressesOn the sixth episode of her YouTube show, Hello Fashion, created with The Slowdown, Young talks about her process for selecting and securing premiere dresses, and highlights f
New York–based stylist Kate Young devotes her YouTube show, Hello Fashion, created with The Slowdown, to explaining the ins and outs of celebrity styling. Her wide-ranging explorations about whOn the series’ fifth episode, Young answers various audience questions, submitted in the comments section of her YouTube channel and on her Instagram.
The Covid-19 pandemic, by its very nature, has led to a universal turning toward—or even retreating to—home. The very noTadao Ando: Living With Light (Rizzoli), out this week, that presents 11 extraordinary residential projects designed by the Japanese architect, who has created more than 100 ho
Frustrated by the high cost of wellness in America, Brooklyn-based journalist Annie Daly set out to find meaningful alteDestination Wellness: Global Secrets for Better Living Wherever You Are (Chronicle Prism), out May 11. What may sound like a travel writer’s cushy, decidedly pre-Covid boondoggle in fact offer
Italian jewelry designer Elsa Peretti, who passed away on March 18, is a constant inspiration to stylist Kate Young’s lifourth episode of her YouTube show, Hello Fashion, created with The Slowdown, surveying some of the brilliant things Peretti made in her lifetime. Young begins by discu
The British-born, Brooklyn-based philosopher Simon Critchley has no shortage of interests. He’s written, in his refreshiThe New York Times, where he moderates its contemporary thinkers opinion forum, The Stone. For his forthcoming book, Bald (Yale University Press), out April 27, Critchley—who teaches philosophy at The New School for Social Research, and was tEp. 42 of our Time Sensitive podcast and Ep. 3 of our At a Distance podcast—compiled 35 of his favorite Times essays, forming an engaging series of short reads that suggest new ways of understanding the world. We recently spoke w
Isolating at home during the pandemic, New York–based stylist Kate Young longed for the hallmarks of awards season: fancthird episode of her new YouTube show, Hello Fashion, created with The Slowdown, she details three of her favorite awards looks: a saffron-colored Vera Wang dress, which MiBrokeback Mountain; a red Prada dress, which Selena Gomez wore to the American Music Awards on Nov. 20, 2016, when she won the Favorite FeI, Tonya.
When Goodnight Moon was first published, in 1947, the chief children’s librarian at the New York Public Library didn’t like that its story—Goodnight Moon’s honest presentation of sleep and solicitude still resonated with readers, who’ve since purchased more than 48 million
According to celebrity stylist Kate Young, anyone can figure out the look that works best for them by creating a mood bosecond episode of her new YouTube show, Hello Fashion, created with The Slowdown. While her mood boards take various forms, including Pinterest boards and entire books of ph
Kate Young, the stylist for red carpet luminaries such as Sienna Miller, Margot Robbie, and Michelle Williams, grew up iVogue, and later, after several years in the Vogue fashion department, as fashion editor-at-large of Interview magazine. On her new YouTube show, Hello Fashion, created with The Slowdown, Young provides an inside peek, through her own distinct, high-low perspective, into the world. In the weekly series, which premiered on Tuesday, Young highlights the quality, craftsmanship, and enduring value of cthe debut episode, Young talks about how she and actor-singer Selena Gomez, a client of hers since 2014, created their latest project togRevelación. In addition to detailing the various looks—including a Valentino haute couture dress—Young FaceTimes with fashion iconHello Fashion as a whole. How did Hello Fashion come about? Why YouTube?
How Spanish Culture and Color Informed the Styling and Art Direction of Selena Gomez’s New “Revelación” Album
New York–based stylist Kate Young, one of Hollywood’s most highly sought-after, is known for putting the women she dressVogue. This week, Young debuted her new YouTube show, Hello Fashion, created with The Slowdown, where she dives deep into the ins and outs of her trade, and the superior craftsmanship of first episode of the weekly series focuses on how she created a series of photographic art for musician Selena Gomez’s new album, “Re
Earlier this month, Francesca Johanson, editor of the Architectural League’s online publication Urban Omnibus, launched Memory Loss,” a new series with Guernica magazine. These essays seek out sites of remembrance in New York City, addressing a “continuum between private and publ
In the era of Covid-19, you might think that Julia Cooke’s book Come Fly the World: The Jet-Age Story of the Women of Pan Am (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt), out this week, was inspired by a longing for air travel, but you’d be wrong. “What I reall
How Snøhetta Translated the Ethos of Bronx-Based Chef Collective Ghetto Gastro Into an Experimental Kitchen
Three years ago, on New Year’s Eve in Havana, artist José Parlá introduced Craig Dykers, a founding partner of the archiSnøhetta, to Jon Gray, one-third of the Bronx-based chef troupe Ghetto Gastro. The two began what would become an ongoing converBurnside, an intimate, flexible café and culinary event space for the Tokyo creative agency En One. (Health restrictions have pr
Blackness as a color and, in some ways, as a culture often finds itself in close proximity to death. Despite the vivid b
In 2019, Madrid-based designer Jorge Penadés founded Extraperlo, a nonprofit exhibition platform for unorthodox work andCurating Curators,” on view Feb. 18–20 at Penadés’s warehouse-like studio as part of this month’s Madrid Design Festival, upends the conv
Hanna Nova Beatrice is the founder and editor-in-chief of The New Era, a recently launched independent Scandinavian design publication. “It grew out of a strong belief in the [power of] priResidence magazine, prefers to consume media the old-fashioned way, with an eye toward periodicals that innovate on physical page How do you start your mornings?
As the world adapts to pandemic life, we’ve seen creativity heroically emerge, in nearly every sector, amid limitations.Kei Truck Garden Contest in Osaka, which brings nature closer to city-dwellers in the form of compact, foliage-filled creations. (The date for t
For most of us, the urge to bring smartphones into our bedrooms is too strong to resist—even when science, and firsthandattest to the habit’s harmful effects. One way to curb the temptation: Loftie, an alarm clock designed to transform sleep spaces into phone-free sanctuaries. Calibrated for the digital age, the dev
Those visiting Japan’s beloved gardens during the winter might be struck by the sight of trees confined within mysteriouyukitsuri—the term for these intriguing rope webs—is a traditional Japanese gardening technique intended to protect trees’ long b
Design can be a powerful tool in times of crisis, when creativity is a crucial element for survival. At the start of theDesigners Against Coronavirus, and in the fall, took the project a step further by documenting 272 of the works in a book of the same name. Nearly all the resources to publish it, from the paper to securing the copyright for each image, were donated, and the
Formgivning, the Danish word for “design,” serves as both a thesis and a call to action in a new book, Formgiving: An Architectural Future History (Taschen), by the Copenhagen-born architectural practice Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG). This is no project-by-project compe