It's almost a cliché now to say that the annual Milan Salone del Mobile has become a behemoth of a design fair, eclipsing every other major show in the design calendar. (Personally, we at Architonic feel that a number of the other large design events such as Stockholm and the imm cologne have a lot going for them when it comes to relevance and business.) Given Milan's elevated status, both in real terms and in those of the imagination, we asked eight leading design practitioners what comes to mind when they hear the name of that Italian city.
I really love it. I look forward to it every year. It's a great week. Exciting, but exhausting, too. I've been coming here for almost twenty years and I don't feel by any means tired of it. For me, it is still the capital of design, the place to be. The place to see what other people are doing, to meet colleagues, to discuss and to exchange information.
I think Milan is a very radical place, a very interesting city. But also a very controlled and conservative city. I like this combination. Lots of mistakes, but they get it right a lot also. People here really care about their lives. Food, fashion, everything. They share a design mind.
Humans are naturally social animals and the marketplace has an essential role to play throughout time, and I don't think that's going to change now. The internet has made the market dimension of the fair, the connecting with people, the exchange of ideas face to face the most important thing about it. It's no longer just about communicating information. That can be done online. So, for me, that inspirational, informative, educational side of Milan is the most exciting thing right now.
Isle Crawford; photo David Lunberg for Artek
Isle Crawford; photo David Lunberg for Artek×
I have to be thankful to Milan, which has given me to a great professional life. It's perfect for work, but it's also great to leave it. I spend a lot of my time in France. It's always hard to return to Milan. The problem is when Milan becomes all about your work and not about the other important things in life.
I live in Milan, so the furniture fair means that friends come over for the week, and I get to see them, which is great. It's so fantastic for the city, because it really brings the city to life. And as a Milanese, it's a really big deal. The only problem is that the hotel rooms go through the roof. Not that I need one...
Chaos. Really. After about five days, I always want to go back to Venice. (Laughs.) No, really, it can be too much. Everyone's stressed. Our work should be enjoyed. It's impossible to produce well if you are stressed or angry. I think it's difficult being in Milan. Professional jealousy is a problem, too, especially among Italian designers. Less so among designers from elsewhere. Yes, Milan is chaos.
Luca Nichetto; photo Markus Moström
Luca Nichetto; photo Markus Moström×
I dread it and I look forward to it at the same time. It's this very intense bunch of days. You don't sleep very much and you've prepared for for so long. Huge things happen – three or four of them a day – or sometimes nothing happens. It's strange to have such an intense time. And of course, good food. I love Italian food. And wine.
Ugh. It's quite a rollercoaster. It's a big drama that starts nine months before the actual event. Like having a baby. I think I'm less stressed by it than I used to be, though, because I'm more experienced and a bit wiser for it every year. I realised sometimes you've got to just sit back in the boat without the paddle and just go with the flow, knowing that historically you've come out the other side. You haven't hit the rocks yet. But it's somewhat of a risky attitude to have. You never know. It's part of the mystery of being in Italy!