15 January 2019


by Marco Romanelli.

Umberto Eco argues that the mirror is a “threshold phenomenon” that marks the boundary between the imaginary and the symbolic. Leaving Eco aside, however, it only takes Alice in Wonderland or Snow White’s wicked stepmother to show that designing a mirror is not exactly the same as designing an armchair! As we well know, mirrors reflect. They reflect the world around them, but first and foremost they reflect the designer who is creating them and return his or her image. Thus, when given due consideration, as design work always should be, mirrors pose problems and await responses. They are the most psychoanalytical objects in our homes and, equally, the most “absent”. They are, in fact, nothing more than sheets of treated glass or polished steel – it’s their frame that will shape the space and demand our creative skills. It’s the frame that holds the mirror “captive” from a design perspective.

If one had to produce a statistical breakdown of design typologies in 2018, the mirror would rate one of the most popular. As if everybody had suddenly realised they had no mirrors in the house and, vice versa, were overcome by a tremendous urge to look at themselves, question themselves and perhaps embark on a new discourse with themselves. This is why we decided to make a selection of what we considered to be the most interesting mirrors of the multitude showcased at the Salone del Mobile in Milan, and provide a short description of them.

Marcantonio Raimondi Malerba "Luminaire", Seletti
Raimondi Malerba says: “The idea for the Luminaires was sparked by a trip to Salento during which I fell in love with the illuminated decorations used by the Salentini in their local festivals…” Local festivals, but also a Felliniesque circus aesthetic, reminiscent of theatre dressing rooms of yore: the circlet of small lightbulbs turns the poetry of the mirror into a performance. The shapes eschew definition to take on joyfully childish profiles.

Mirror with integrated lighting. Available in three different versions: Big (h.150 x l.72 cm, with 25 small filament bulbs); Regular (h.55 x l.67 cm with 18 bulbs) and Small (h.32 x l.30 cm with 10 bulbs).

Marco Brunori "Marcel", Adele-C

Marco Brunori, a disciple of Dino Gavina, has always focused on mirrors. He has come with an entire collection, entitled "Riflessioni" (playing on the double meaning of the Italian word for reflections). The collection includes "Marcel", which qualifies as wall art, rather than simply a mirror, a kinetic work of art in particular: “as you go near it, the mirror shows you going backwards … when in fact you are going forwards.”

Wall mirror made up of alternating extra clear bevelled surfaces. Folded, soldered and painted sheet metal support. Can be hung vertically or horizontally, or mixed and matched as part of a composition. Dimensions: h.70 x l.128 x d.18 cm.

Giorgio Bonaguro "Soleil", Tacchini
Can a furnishing piece be inspired by the world of jewels? One would be tempted to answer in the affirmative in the case of Bonaguro’s Soleil mirror. Undoubtedly the design for the “cord”- a sophisticated high-end leather strap - “came before” the design for the looking glass. The result is an object that makes explicit reference to the lifestyle enjoyed by the bourgeoisie during the early Fifties, especially in France.

Gold metal structure, leather strap, wood-backed mirror. Dimensions: diam. 50 cm; total h. 90 cm.

Costance Guisset "Panache", Petite Friture

Clearly redolent with irony, the Panache mirror is adorned with interchangeable coloured tassels, contributing to its panache, as the French name of the range suggests. The image of the person reflected in them is therefore “embellished” – a citationist work or a mischievous take on a certain style of French décor? Costance Guisset can certainly get away with it, being one of the most promising designers north of the Alps.

Oval mirrors available in three different sizes (h.37 x l.42 cm; h.58 x l.50 cm; h.112 x l.37 cm) complete with tassels; each package contains three interchangeable sets of black, blue and gold tassels.

Daniel Rybakken "124 degrees", Artek

The absolute minimalism of this object is married with expanded functionality: the two mirrors face each other at a 124° angle, as the name suggests, making for unexpected perspectival views both of the person involved and of the surrounding area. As Rybakken says: “I’ve had a prototype of the mirror hanging above the sink in my studio for nearly a year and I’m still a bit surprised not to see myself when I look into it.”

Wall mirror available in three different sizes: (h.58 x l.42 x d.12; h.35 x l.42 x d.18; h.28 x l.34 x d.10) with an optional integrated wooden shelf. Structure in extruded aluminium, stainless steel mirror. It can also be used as a storage space.

Barber Osgerby "Ecco", Glas Italia

The English duo has tackled the specific typology of the “floor” mirror with an assemblage of components that on one hand references “spontaneous” design, particularly given the emphasis laid on the cable, which has been left visible and coloured and, on the other, is a homage to late Seventies design (note the colours). In actual fact, every single detail has been carefully studied and determined.

Freestanding floor mirror in 12mm extra clear glass inserted into cylindrical rubber rails. It features an opal Murano glass light. The special spiral cable is coated in fabric of various colours, coordinating with the bars. Dimensions (h.205 x l.66 cm).

Lanzavecchia Wai "Pinch", Fiam

What’s the relationship between mirror and frame? I think this is the question that Pinch asks. Apparently indissolubly “bound together” because they have coexisted for centuries, mirror and frame are actually capable of living their own independent lives. Lanzavecchia Wai make this abundantly clear by removing parts of the mirrored surface to reveal the wall behind.

Wall or floor mirrors, with a burnished brass finish metal frame. Dimensions: h.180 x l.45 cm; h.160 x l.50 cm; h.90 x l. 90 cm; diam.70 cm.

Inga Sempé "Vitrail", Magis

Inga maintains that a mirror is a picture. To be fair, that tends to be almost always the case these days: the “control” functions of one’s image are delegated to specific parts of the home (bathroom, walk-in wardrobe, possibly the bedroom), whereas “elsewhere”, and especially in entrances, mirrors are practically works of art. By replacing lead with rubber and incorporating coloured strips, Vitrail revisits the image of the ancient ecclesiastical stained windows.

Wall mirrors with rubber frames and glass back coated with coloured strips (green, grey). Dimensions: h.50 x l.50-70 cm; h.60 x l.50 cm; diam.50 cm.

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