Looking back at Milan Design Week 2021
It may not have been the usual Milan Design Week, but it was a very special event and a resounding success
An extraordinary Milan Design Week
Milan Design Week 2021 came to an end on Friday and we can categorically say that it was a resounding success. After a long and challenging period for everyone that included the cancellation of the 2020 edition, a shift from its usual April timing to September and a leadup filled with uncertainty, we expected it to be a more low-key event than usual.
How wrong we were. Despite the fact that many of our friends from outside Europe were unable to make it due to Covid-related travel restrictions, we certainly did not lack visitors to our showroom and we thank all those who made the effort.
Throughout the difficult months of 2020 and early 2021, as a company we felt it was important to maintain the impetus, so we continued to invest and our staff worked harder than ever, especially in the lead-up to Milan Design Week which we saw as an opportunity to stop and celebrate. It was the chance to pay tribute not only to our people and the designers and suppliers who have worked so tirelessly and passionately but also our clients who supported and stimulated us throughout. We are proud of what we achieved, especially when we think about the demanding conditions we worked under in order to respect the stringent anti-Covid regulations in place for so long. At the end of the day, the health and wellbeing of our employees and clients is what matters.
The days leading up to MDW 2021
Our Milan Design Week activities started with a live-streamed presentation by CEO Gabriele Salvatori on 1 September, which was repeated in English the following day. The idea was to ensure those who were unable to make it to Milan could still be a part of things, no matter where in the world they are.
In both sessions, which were streamed on YouTube and our Instagram channel, he took viewers on a guided tour of the showroom and shared insights into our new products and displays. For those who missed the live presentation, you can catch up here.
1 September also marked another milestone in our history with the opening of the Salvatori Boutique, our first ever retail store. Showcasing designer furniture and accessories for the home, it is destined to become a must-visit destination for design aficionados who want to be able to immediately take home a gorgeous object that has caught their eye.
Situated at street level in the exclusive Brera district of Milan, it is located just around the corner from our flagship showroom making it the perfect antipasto before enjoying the full Salvatori experience.
The main event we had all been looking forward to for so long was, of course, Milan Design Week itself, and this began on 5 September, the first of five intense, emotionally-charged days as we finally met up with old and new friends and immediately understood that everyone’s passion for design burned brighter than ever.
A quick summary of our new products
We presented a host of new products, including a project that Gabriele, who is also our Creative Director, holds particularly dear to his heart. That is The Village, which was inspired by the long months of lockdown.
All around the world we found ourselves constrained by the four walls of our homes, living in them 24 hours a day with an unprecedented intensity. “I realised how suffering unites us” he explains and it was this understanding that gave him the idea to invite designers and architects from around the world to interpret their own very personal idea of the concept of home.
We introduced two new textures, Spaghetti and Lost Stones. The first, designed by Elisa Ossino, is the result of a long and thorough period of research culminating in adopting precision engineering that is more often associated with high-end watchmaking, and is also iterated in a tapware line. The second texture is an evolution of a project we embarked upon with Piero Lissoni two years ago, which sprang from his desire to find a way to recycle broken or abandon slabs of stone, an approach which resonates with our commitment to sustainability.
Working with Piero, we also added new items to his stunning Pietra L range of home accessories and developed the Edo collection of bathroom pieces that evoke the simplicity of Japanese design.
We also collaborated with two new artists, Stephen Burks and Patricia Urquiola, resulting in a series of mirrors and a collection of coffee and dining tables.
With his Friends and Neighbors mirrors, acclaimed American designer Stephen Burks brings diverse faces of the world together through the synergy of multi-coloured stones. The pieces represent our family, our friends, our neighbours who may be far away physically due to the lockdown, but who we remain close to through technology. This exploration of a partial means of contact is reflected to perfection in these mirrors that seem almost a patchwork of colours and stones, yet have a wonderfully unique and complete wholeness.
The Taula table collection by Patricia Urquiola takes it name and inspiration from the extraordinary megaliths of the islands of Menorca and Majorca. Fusing painstaking craftsmanship and precision technology, she plays with the tactility of stone, transforming it from a heavy material into something that appears weightless, through an optical illusion whereby the top appears to float above its legs.
Last but not least we presented the Gravity Zodiac collection, which proved to be a great hit with visitors. An evolution of our original Gravity paperweights, it features twelve spheres, each in a different stone aligned with the signs of the zodiac and their associated planets.
A special thank you to the designers
We would like to give a special thank you to all the designers who worked with such passion and commitment to help bring their wonderful products to fruition.
Integral to the design process is being able to interact face to face and show designers the stone so that they can see and touch it. This is where a kind of alchemy comes into play as we exchange ideas and opinions but of course, in these particular times, such contact was usually impossible, so we relied on technology and numerous video calls. It wasn’t always easy, but everyone involved approached the situation with enthusiasm and a determination to make it work.
Our partnerships with designers are based on mutual trust and respect and this was more important than ever working under such conditions. We therefore want to give our heartfelt thanks to Piero Lissoni and Elisa Ossino with whom we have worked for many years and to Stephen Burks and Patricia Urquiola with whom we collaborated for the first time.
We also want to acknowledge the designers who accepted our invitation to contribute to The Village, understanding the spirit that was at the heart of it. So, “grazie” to Yabu Pushelberg, Rodolfo Dordoni, John Pawson, Vincent Van Duysen and Kengo Kuma.
The “reunion Design Week” as Gabriele Salvatori described it was definitely a little different compared to previous editions, but was successful beyond our expectations. We are delighted to have been part of this very special edition and hope that those who visited our showroom and new boutique enjoyed the experience and felt the passion behind everything we shared.
It is now time to draw breath and then prepare for April 2022 when, we hope, normal service resumes and Milan will welcome designer lovers once again from all parts of the globe. We look forward to seeing you then.