Hi everyone, it’s me Holly and I’m back from an exciting visit to Milan, Portofino and Genoa – and it was GREAT. I spent a week in Milan on assignment for Kvadrat to attend the wonderful Salone del Mobile. The Salone also invited me as 1 of 100 journalists globally to attend as a special guest, too. If that weren’t enough, I was also invited by Milan’s DDN Magazine to join a tour that they’d organized in collaboration with some major Italian design brands that I’ll list below.
The lovely Francesca Russo of DDN and a group of European design bloggers spent a day at the Salone del Mobile to visit the 11 brands on our list – you can watch a video of it here (you can see + hear me speaking at (9:10). I’ve also rounded up my favorite pieces from some of the brands that we visited so you can get a glimpse of some of the great pieces that I was able to experience up close and personal. These can be seen throughout this post.
Isola Shelving System from Gallotti&Radice which just won the Wallpaper design award
Okay so, because this is a blog and it’s my space to say what I want I’ve got to be honest with you guys…. Before this tour I wasn’t that excited to visit Italian home brands because it never really appealed to me – too over-the-top and ornate for my taste. I was reluctant to go on this tour, but my friend Desiree sort of convinced me and because she has great taste and I trust her I figured WHY NOT? Plus, I wanted to hang out with her and also my other good friends Agata and Anastasia and going on this tour was a great excuse because they’d all be there!
Ligomancer Chair from JCP
Cookie table from Gallotti&Radice
As I approached the fairgrounds, I thought that I really need to open myself up and stop being so stuck on Scandinavian design. That this tour isn’t ONLY about being with Agata, Anastasia and Desiree, it was also about broadening my views in design again.
I spent my teens and all of my twenties being positively addicted to French design and fashion and all of the interiors coming out of London. I nearly moved to Paris twice and London three times when I was single! I’ve only been big on Nordic design for a decade now, mostly since relocating to northern Germany where Nordic design was considered boring when I landed here but has sense grown to become the leading design style in the northern part of the country.
I love Scandi style, but I feel like I need to branch out and get back to my roots of mixing and matching themes again to make my home feel more personal but also warmer and more sophisticated. In other words, I can rock Scandi while bringing in things from all over the world, including the beautiful pieces from Italian designers shown throughout this post.
Sign Filo chairs in gold and copper from MDF
If there is one thing we ALL need to do more of, it’s to pull out of our comfort zone and step wayyyy back and see everything we think we know, again. The last time I really LOOKED at Italian design or their magazines was, well, too long to admit. I’d never even BEEN to Italy before last week. I obviously love Italian life and culture, half of my family in the states married into Italian families, my uncle is Italian and my mother remarried one…. Plus, some of my closest and dearest friends are Italian. What was my problem then with Italian design exactly? Why did I only regard it as dated, stuffy and well, completely distasteful? I was wrong and I’m glad my week in Milan gave me a brand new viewpoint because it was needed.
Oglof from JCP
Thankfully, I went on the DDN Tour to these 11 Italian brands and though some definitely did not resonate with me, though they were nice, I was completely transformed not only by the Italian brands on the tour but also the many design studios I’d visited throughout the city, the lighting brands, the Italian bathrooms and kitchens (insert a big OMG here, because I am a changed woman, Salvatori bathrooms left me speechless in Brera, and ask my friend Toni who assisted me on this trip, I am RARELY speechless.
Cloud pouf from Gallotti&Radice
Cozy sofa from MDF in pink (love!)
Papillon wall lights from Arflex
Chair and pouf from Roberto Cavalli Home
Corolle chairs from Arflex
Kartell by Laufen mirrors and shelves
Flow Color chairs from MDF
I’m happy to report that DDN and this tour in general totally cured me of my Italian design phobia. I’m now very interested in what’s happening in the world of Italian design, especially with the lighting companies, kitchen and bath firms and the small creative design agencies.
I’m still not completely sold on the over-the-top luxury brands that just drip with luxury and look better suited to a hotel or casino than my humble home, but just as German design has evolved over the years, and American styles too, Italian interiors are experiencing a metamorphosis as well. I could feel a rumble beneath the surface while in Milan that the smaller design communities there are making – the shift – and I feel Milan is only going to get better and better in the years to come – stronger and stronger. I’m curious to see where the years ahead will take the fair and Design Week in general and I’m definitely going back to Milan next year because that was truly the best interior design fair and citywide design event I’d ever visited – five stars!