When it comes to design, Italy is a rich seam of inspiration. Milan International Furniture Fair – Salone del Mobile – is the most important furniture fair annually, where the global industry gathers to see the latest directions and pieces from the world’s most important design houses.
Usually held in April, it has been suspended since 2019 thanks to pandemic, with the next edition scheduled to take place in September 2021. Unfortunately – thanks to travel restrictions – it will be almost impossible for Australian design aficionados to make it this year!
Instead, our local industry will be gathering at the 18th edition of the Australian International Furniture Fair (AIFF) & Decor + Design, with the co-located shows returning to the Melbourne Exhibition Centre from the 15th – 18th July.
For now, we must use our armchairs to travel to Italy for design inspiration, with an incredible list of inspiring Italian designers as our itinerary. Herewith a few of our favourite things (and people) made in Italy…
The Incredible Sozzani Sisters
Carla and Franca Sozzani are storied names in Italian design.
Franca Sozzani (on the right) was the innovative editor of Vogue Italia for almost 30 years, publishing ground-breaking photographs which influenced the design industry around the globe. The July 2008 ‘Black Issue’ exclusively featured Black models, and was far ahead of its time. It has since become a valuable collector’s item.
Franca sadly passed away in 2016. Beforehand, she collaborated with her son, director Francesco Carozzini, on the thoughtful and inspiring documentary Franca: Chaos and Creation. (Stream it on Netflix ASAP).
Her sister Carla Sozzani (on the left) is a gallerist and the founder of the famous concept store 10 Corso Como in Milan.
Stepping into 10 Corso Como is like entering another world. A mecca for lovers of culture and design, it is a mixture of art, fashion, interior design, books and cuisine.
Piero Fornasetti (1913 – 1988) was a prolific Milanese painter, sculptor, interior designer and book engraver, who created over 11,000 original designs throughout his life. Although incredibly he moved across multiple artistic disciplines, he was perhaps best known for his product design and contribution to the Italian decorative arts.
Fornasetti’s designs are often witty and surprising, with an unmistakable aesthetic of ‘practical madness’. The kaleidoscope of Fornasetti’s imagination runs wild across kitchen products, storage jars, sculptures, ceramics and more. His famous plates and trays are iconic and launched a worldwide trend.
The designer’s works are still in production by the company that bears his name. Renowned exhibitors at Milan Design Week, notable international designers often collaborate on new pieces for the Fornasetti collection.
The magical Fornasetti flagship atelier in Milan has also become a mecca for design pilgrims.
Founded in 1921, Alessi is still a family-run business, with Alberto Alessi at the helm today.
Originally intended as a ‘workshop for the processing of brass and nickel silver sheet metal’, the high quality of its products set them apart from the beginning. It has evolved to become a globally-recognised ‘Factory of Italian Design’. Alessi produces a diverse range of products, melding contemporary design with their traditional Italian roots and craftsmanship.
Alessi’s mission is to balance creativity with the needs and desires of a mass audience, making great design accessible on a daily level. Famous for their sleek kitchen products, Alessi works with high-profile designers from around the world to produce items that people cherish for life. Our favourite is the iconic Philippe Starck-designed juicer, the Salif. Designed over 25 years’ ago, it has become a classic piece of design that is as fun as it is functional.
Milan-based Dimore Studio has built an ardent following with its decadent mix of beautiful textiles, artwork. vintage furniture and rich, jeweled tones.
Run by Emiliano Salci and Britt Moran, the due create a ‘timeless visual and emotional pathway’ with the objects from historical design masters living together with reclaimed materials and other one-off pieces.
Founded in 2003, the Milan studio continues to grow in power, fusing the boundaries between art, fashion and design.
We look forward to the time when we can travel with more ease to Italy to gather design inspiration from its extraordinary history and talented designers.
In the meantime, the 18th edition of the Australian International Furniture Fair and Decor + Design will be taking place at the Melbourne Exhibition Centre from 15 – 18 July 2021.
It will feature leading Australian exhibitors from across indoor and outdoor furniture, lighting, soft furnishings, textiles and art. The International Seminar Series will host a line-up of inspirational workshops and masterclasses across disciplines, while VIVID Design Awards will give a platform to Australia’s most exciting new design talent.
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