The Milan Furniture Fair resembles a vast design catalogue. Yet, unlike many other fairs, 'I Saloni' is always an inspiring showcase for business people and trend hunters in search of innovations and hypes.
Nevertheless, re-editions of old design icons are the prime earners for celebrated top brands like Cappellini, Vitra, Cassina, Moroso, Edra and Poltrona Frau. OBJEKT©International asked Giulio Cappellini, one of design's supreme deities, what it is like to design furniture for a world that actually lacks for nothing. We lounged with him on Alcantara-clad sofas in the Alcantara Design Museum, which he was curating. The museum was part of Superstudio Più: the Temporary Museum of Design. The photos illustrate the highlights of the event.
Usually when considering design, you immediately think of a finished product. However, behind the scenes, wars are waged over immaterial issues: creativity, information and identity. So, over brands and design icons, because these days a brand cannot do without an identity. It needs to develop a profile. Design presentation and clarity of concept contribute more than ever before to the acceptability of a product. They give the design a personality and an identity.
Superstudio Più, the Temporary Museum of Design and part of the I Saloni circus, is outstanding in that respect, organising product presentations that rival the most brilliant art installations. This is the arena in which Giulio Cappellini acts as curator for the Alcantara Design Museum. It is a great presentation featuring the works of equally great designers on the Alcantara theme.
“Freedom is the key to everything”, Giulio Cappellini declared. “The freedom to mix old with new, expensive with dirt-cheap, and intellectual with ordinary. After all, personality isn't something you buy, you make it yourself.” And that is precisely what the Flos presentation did in the adjoining space.
The cobalt-blue 'stained glass' lamp conjures up a spiritual ambience, while the workman's togs on the wall provoke a confrontation with reality. A personal mixture of posh and stylish, 'high' culture and 'low' culture. He's right. “The old-style house is in favour”, he added, “in a house with history, simple attractive items come into their own. The old idea of 'high design, high price' no longer applies.” “These days design does have a price - the right price. Design must be accessible and attainable for everyone.
Not everyone has a big house. Many people live in cities in relatively small spaces. In such cases, design adds value and beauty to the space, and reflects the occupant's personality.” That is the meaning of 'freedom' for Giulio Cappellini. The purchasers of design may be snobs, but the way they personally combine things is what he believes helps them to find freedom and, more especially, find themselves. And now to the key question: what is it like to design for a world that actually lacks for nothing? Why are major brands, like major cultures, scared to succumb? That scenario is always present and is something they fight tooth and nail.