Milan is celebrating its annual Design Week through this weekend, which combines the Salone del Mobile international furniture fair in the sprawling Rho Fiera pavilions and the Fuorisalone, a series of design-related events held throughout the city during the same week in April. This is one of the most important events worldwide for design professionals and enthusiasts, and attracts throngs of visitors to Milan for the fair and related shows.
Though thousands of designers and studios across the globe participate in Design Week, it is no coincidence that the event takes place in Italy, which has been a leader in home, industrial, automobile, and textile design for the past century. From head-turning cars to iconic moka pots, Italian designers have known how to elevate the mundane and make even the most humble household object a thing of beauty since the early 1900’s.
Even if you can’t make Design Week, it’s easy to add a touch of Italian flair to your home. Here are a few of the most recognized names in Italian design:
From salt and pepper shakers to corkscrews, this home design firm makes the most utilitarian kitchen utensils quirky and playful. Founded in 1921, Alessi is famous for combining staid functionality with cheerful looks created by some of the world’s most famous designers, and there are very few kitchens in Italy which don’t include at least one light-hearted piece of Alessi on their shelves. The most beloved Alessi objects include their Tea Rex kettle, the Anna G. corkscrew, and the paper doll-decorated line from King Kong.
This furniture and home decor company founded in 1949 made a huge splash at the Salone this year with its new line of children’s furniture, most notably the minimalist rocking chair Nendo and swing by Philippe Starck. The look is in keeping with the company’s long tradition of contemporary molded plastic furniture and decor, usually in bold colors, which reached its peak in the 1960’s and 70’s. You’ll probably recognize their Starck-designed Ghost and Masters chairs and popular Bourgie table lamps, which recreate a sumptuous baroque aesthetic in futuristic plastic.
Saba is a new name in contemporary Italian furniture design. Founded in 1988, it quickly became one of the leading design companies in Italy. The Italian designer Giuseppe Viganò has been collaborating with Saba since 2007, and has created a number of their most popular pieces, including the curved Primo Quarto bookshelves, the retro Manta armchair, and the steel Più table.
(Photo ©Giuseppe Vigano, saba Italia)
Italy has a long and proud tradition of luxury textiles, and perhaps the most prestigious name in Italy is Rubelli, which has been producing the world’s most sumptuous fabrics since 1858. This Venetian company began with handmade silks and brocades 150 years ago, and today is known for both understated and elegant historic fabrics and contemporary textile designs which play with elaborate textures and weaves to create modern patterns with the same impeccable quality.