06 June 2019

Happy anniversary, Italian design!

2019 is a year ripe with celebration for Italian design. A number of companies have blown out their candles and celebrated with special editions, spectacular displays and immersive exhibitions.

Kartell, 70 Years

70 years of evolution and change were narrated by an event featuring some of the company’s iconic ‘products’, along with photographs, theatrical and art works that have inspired its designers. Kartell’s anniversary event The Art Side of Kartell, devised by Ferruccio Laviani with Rita Selvaggio brought together the languages of design, photography, art and film to illustrate the company’s ‘plastic world’. The exhibition, held at Palazzo Reale in April, was a brilliant illustration of the ongoing and fruitful dialogue between art and design that the brand has fed into over the last 70 years, filling eleven different rooms, each with their own strong character. Immersive and vibrant, it showcased objects, installations, archive material, images, documents, prototypes, new commissions and products that earned the company its place in the collective imagination, harnessing visual and semantic associations. The Art Side of Kartell told the story of the company not necessarily from a historical perspective, rather from an artistic point of view, underscoring the ways and forms in which design and art have become interwoven.


minotticucine, 70 Years

Minotticucine has also notched up this major anniversary, which it celebrated with a tribute evening to master of design AG Fronzoni in its showroom in Milan. Fronzoni designed the current company logo in 2001. His philosophy dovetailed perfectly with that of the brand: the famous principle less is more, coined by Mies van der Rohe, was the starting point for all the company’s products, giving shape to Alberto Minotti’s credo of ‘visual silence’. During the festivities, Myrna Cohen, Massimo Curzi, Ester Manitto, Clara Pozzetti and Claudio Silvestrin each took to the microphone to describe their own, personal approach to their mentor’s teachings. Meanwhile, an enormous LED screen overlooking Via Larga told Fronzoni’s story through his own quotes and the reminiscences of people who knew him directly, alternating with images relating to the history of the company. Perhaps the finest way of setting the seal on a career made up of sacrifices, passion, peaks and troughs was the inauguration of two showrooms in India, in Mumbai and New Delhi.


Natuzzi, 60 Years

Inspiration, devotion and gratitude are the three cornerstones of the project celebrating Natuzzi’s 60th anniversary. In particular, the collection presented at the Salone del Mobile.Milano focused on Mother Earth, the spirit and uniqueness of Apulia, where Pasquale Natuzzi began his lengthy career in the furnishing world in 1959. Now, those places, from which everything originated, inspire products designed to be not just beautiful but also and especially ‘well made’. Pasquale Natuzzi Junior says that sustainability formed the theme of this anniversary, with the company looking to the supply chain for the greenest possible partners and solutions, along with Ross Lovegrove, who designs archetypical and primeval shapes in which ethics and aesthetics coincide.


IPE, 60 Years. Visionnaire, 15 Years

IPE has celebrated not one but two anniversaries with a book, an exhibition and lots of new things. The company has notched up 60 years and its exclusive brand Visionnaire is about to celebrate 15. The celebrations kicked off at the 58th edition of the Salone del Mobile.Milano with a number of events at the fairgrounds and in the city. Setting the seal on this great milestone, IPE decided to celebrate the event with a limited edition book. This publication/poster book presents the founding values of the company, discusses the historic roots of the brand and its current identity and traces its trajectories for the future. Decalogo is a group effort – edited by Barbara Brondi & Marco Rainò, its varied content includes photographic work by Delfino Sisto Legnani and critiques by Felix Burrichter, Leon Sun and Natalia Timascheva. Legnani’s images, inspired by the values underpinning the Ten Commandments (Decalogue) and organised into a series of lyrical diptychs, featured in a one-man show in the Wunderkammer space at the Visionnaire flagship store in Milan. The final tribute to this dual anniversary consisted of the new Visionnaire Anniversary collection, with more than eighty products designed for residential In & Out projects and Contract furnishing.


Living Divani, 50 Years

The 50 year history of Living Divani also encapsulates the life of a family, that of Luigi and Renata Bestetti, who married and set up the business in the early Seventies, and Carola, their daughter, now at the helm along with her parents. The company’s mantras are perseverance, commitment, a pinch of good luck, and a total fixation with good quality contemporary design. Right from the start, what has set it apart are the sharp silhouettes, well-chosen colour palette, feeling of energy and freedom injected into the brand by art director Piero Lissoni, for whom this year marks a 30-year partnership. To celebrate this dual anniversary, Lissoni has set up a labyrinth of mirrors in Milan’s historic Palazzo Crivelli, to showcase The Uncollected Collection, a limited edition collection put together specially for the occasion. Spectacular reflections, ingenious plays of light and shadow created an atmosphere that ranged from the dreamlike to the technological/futuristic, framing the pieces on exhibit – part art, part design – from ever-different perspectives. The show was designed to narrate the craftsmanship of the brand and its gift for translating complex design into contemporary silhouettes.


UniFor, 50 Years

A book edited by Fulvio Irace, and a multimedia installation designed by Ron Gilad were chosen to celebrate half a century of business and family history. UniFor chose these special gifts to mark its 50-year history. Part of the Molteni&C Dada group, the company is run by the third generation of the family, which likes to describe it as a highly specialised smart factory, undaunted by design challenges or working with the great international architectural practices. To be fair, UniFor has a great deal to be proud of. Aside from its 4 Compasso d’Oro awards and the multitude of masters and Pritzker prize-winners with whom it has collaborated (Foster + Partners, Jean Nouvel, Aldo Rossi and Álvaro Siza). In Una Vocazione per l’Architettura (A Vocation for Architecture), published by Skira, the historian Fulvio Irace traces the brand’s road to success, collecting original accounts, projects and documents, such as the design for Aldo Rossi’s Parigi armchair, one of the company’s iconic products. Meanwhile, at the Pinacoteca di Brera and the Accademia di Belle Arti, Ron Gilad has underscored the connection between UniFor’s industrial culture and the educational values of the Accademia – a well-nigh visionary dialogue between the historic heritage of the brand and the museum that symbolises culture.


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