Notes from Milan: Charles Wilson

May 31, 2013
  • Article by Online Editor
  • Designer

The shifting power dynamic

It was interesting this year to see something of a power shift, with designers such as Tom Dixon and Marcel Wanders – both of whom have been high profile for a long time – suddenly looking extremely influential. At Moooi, Marcel Wanders had the most extravagant and enormous display that I’ve ever seen in Milan, taking over the space on Via Savona that was previously the domain of the entire Poltrona Frau group.

‘Unexpected Welcome’ by Moooi. Moooi’s furniture collection was displayed alongside large-scale photography by Erwin Olaf. Photo by Valentina Zanobelli, courtesy Moooi


Tom Dixon, who has been a dynamic presence in Milan for a long time now, returned for the second year of MOST – which shows his own work, as well as that of other international designers and companies. This terrific show included work by New Zealand group, Resident, alongside other up-and-coming brands such as Stellarworks, a Danish brand that collaborates with Chinese manufacturers. MOST had something of a new-world presence, with Dixon also sourcing his manufacturing through Asia.

Furniture by Stellarworks, on show at this year’s MOST

Art direction is crucial

Every now and then, you come across established brands whose Milan shows have been really badly art directed – despite having so much classic furniture. As a designer, you want to find yourself in the right hands with a brand that can really elevate your concepts, not drag them down with last year’s fabrics.

Hip vs Cool

Ventura Lambrate was well worth a visit this year, with a few interesting stands scattered among a lot of overly earnest work. I was particularly interested in the Dutch design studio SMOOL, directed by Robert Bronwasser, who showed prototypes as well as some major editions from projects with different brands.

Homedia by SMOOL imagines the TV as a furniture piece


There were very different crowds congregating in the various districts. On Sunday at Superstudio, where I had a stand, there were plenty of families wandering around as well as the heads of design development at major companies, and it was hard to tell who was who. Ventura Lambrate, on the other hand, was hipsterville. For a designer looking to market their work, it was hard to call which of the two would prove the most rewarding.

Thinking outside the box

One of this year’s surprises was Fernando and Humberto Campana’s Fusion, a collaboration with French crystal company, Baccarat. I found several of the designs both beautiful and surprising, with one red lantern that was particularly covetable. In true Campana brothers’ style, they have woven wicker and bamboo into chandeliers with crystal and, my god, that could go really wrong, but the end result is pretty great.

Fusion, a lighting collection designed by Fernando and Humberto Campana for Baccarat

Hot tip

The PET bottle lamps by Alvaro Catalan de Ocon hanging in the Rossana Orlandi courtyard at the 2013 Fair. Photo by Franzi Kramer


When you travel to Milan, make sure you find the time to hang out at Spazio Rossana Orlandi. Hands down, it’s still the loveliest place in Milan during the Fair – it’s lively, but also relaxed. Line up for a locally made lunch and a glass of wine, enjoy the warmth of the glasshouse and admire all the weird and wonderful things around you.

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31 May 13 at 2:19 PM • Helen

Fantastic! thanks for sharing this and I love the PET bottle lamps. Have shared on my blog 🙂


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