All the Fun of the Fair – Part One

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If you work in the design world April means one thing only – Salone Internazionale del Mobile di Milano – or Milan Design Week.  Started in 1961 by an Italian furniture trade association – it’s the event for every company that has any input in any interior space. Think Paris and London fashion shows meets the Basel Art Fair by way of the Venice Biennale. Simply put, if your company is not represented in some way or another in Milan in April, you may as well not exist.

Here are some of the standout products launched by Spanish design houses at Milan 2016.

Tres and Lattice by NaniMarquina

Master rug maker Nani Marquina continues with her love for traditional craftsmanship with Tres – a collection of ‘Dhurrie Rugs’ that pay tribute to the ancient craft of weaving. Three different fibers have been used – wool, felt and cotton – in combinations that work together to form a stylish, and extremely textural whole.

The list of artists and creatives that have collaborated with Marquina over the years is impressive, and one of the more successful partnerships has been with the French siblings Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec. Their Lattice rug is simply spectacular; a unique creation that brims in balance, proportion and controlled irregularity. As the Bouroullecs’ explain: “Rugs are commonly designed as a surface on which a pattern is distributed. However in the case of Lattice, the pattern is defined as a constructive system to generate the form of the rug itself."

Showtime and Gaulino Easy Chair by B.D Barcelona

The mythical firm B.D. Barcelona is synonymous with Spanish design culture. Not only do the company continue to produce iconic archival pieces by Gaudí and Dalí, but also the contemporary greats of the country’s design world.

At Milan 2016, the company presented the Gaulino Easy Chair by Oscar Tusquets, one of the founders of the company. The model is actually a reinterpretation of a chair Tusquets conceived back in 1987, with clear Gaudían influences. It has been tweaked for a modern market, with a lower seat and slightly more robust forms, taking its use away from the dining room to more multi-functional level.

The B.D. Showtime collection by Jaime Hayon is now ten years old. This hugely successful partnership helped break the designer on the international circuit, and consolidated his playful, irreverent language using the finest materials and craftsmanship. This anniversary collection launches new colors, finishes and materials. Hayon’s singular style is now entirely recognizable, but still looks as fresh as the day it was born.

Grappy and Mix & Match by Gan

Launched in 2008, Gan is sub division of Gandia Blasco, the Spanish outdoor furniture makers. It was conceived to promote smaller objects with more artisan and handmade qualities, and to celebrate the art of textiles.

Grappy is a fun, ergonomic easychair that is covered in either cotton canvas or velvet. Like classic ‘bean bags’ they are filled with polystyrene balls that adapt to body shape and position. Grappy was conceived by Kensaku Oshiro, a Milan-based designer with a background in architecture. “I was inspired by an image of a farmer seated on a jute sack,” he explains. “What sets it apart is its fluidity and semi-formed silhouette, as well as a flexibility that connect three separate volumes.”

Brazilian ceramic and textile designer Flavia del Pra is behind Mix & Match, a collection of nine serving trays made of ceramic with a copper-plated aluminum frame.  Their gorgeous patterns seem to have been inspired by 19th century floor tiles, and have multiple uses; “The trays, which can used together, can also be used as platters, as side tables for serving and presenting food, and as pedestals for drawing attention to an art work or exquisite plant,” explains the designer, whose love of fusing craft and technology is tangible in this fun collection.  

Suzanne Wales