Not just showrooms, art exhibitions Cutting the ribbon at Design Week
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Not just showrooms but full-fledged art exhibitions. Cutting the ribbon at Design Week

Supersalone 2021 is the ideal time to inaugurate these new hubs in the heart of Milan

Not just showrooms, art exhibitions Cutting the ribbon at Design Week
By Editorial Staff -

Designed with a close eye on harmony and respect for nature, retail showrooms are starting to double as art galleries, event venues, and meeting places for industry reviews. Design Week and Fuorisalone 2021 were the ideal opportunity to inaugurate some of these exciting new commercial spaces in downtown Milan. From the ground up, each one was designed to reflect the essence of the brands they represent.

 

MilanoDuomo Stoneroom by Antolini: a journey that unites nature with innovative designs

A tribute to the creativity of nature, human ingenuity, and the city of Milan, as well as a historical emblem of the use of marble and natural stone – designed in collaboration with interior designer Alessandro La Spada, Antolini’s new hub is much more than a showroom. It’s a full-fledged workshop that, designed around nature’s masterpieces, narrates the journey from raw materials to final design. It also captures the essence of the company itself. An ambassador for natural finishing materials since the beginning, Antolini is using its showroom as a kind of exhibition space, with large slabs of stone, accessories, and finishes on display to give visitors an immersive, sensorial experience.

Inaugurated as a part of Fuorisalone 2021, MilanoDuomo Stoneroom has 6460 square feet (600 m2) of display area that, through its eight large windows, looks onto the corner of Piazza Fontana and Via San Clemente in the heart of downtown Milan. Even from outside, therefore, you can catch a glimpse of the mix of Italian nature, tradition, and innovation in the dynamic use of natural stone that’s so typical of the Verona-based company, which, since it was first established, has set itself the challenge of highlighting the uniqueness of this living, malleable material, and its ability to absorb and reflect light, and create different colors. Taking centerstage are, in fact, infinite shades of green, yellow, brown, and blue, as well as every shade between white and black.

Reflecting the firm’s approach to processing materials and producing its product lines, several innovative, sustainable technologies went into the construction of the new showroom to create a space that’s both elegant and functional.Visitors can view over 1,300 different materials, stone varieties from eight collections (Exclusive Collection, Textures+Natura Collection, Precioustone, Gemstone, Shellstone, Perception, and Couture), and select from more than five thousand exclusive samples incorporated into the showroom itself using almost mimetic displays: illuminated shelves for crystals and quartzes, a library-like corner with smaller samples, and marble and precious stones transformed into chandeliers. The store also has full-size slabs from blocks of natural stone, both to respond to the needs of designers and architects, and to reveal some of the little known colors available, ranging from Agatona and Crystal Agate Gold from the Precioustone collection, to American Agate from the Gemstone series and many others.

The germ of the design was for the new showroom to offer an experience as similar as possible to that of a high fashion tailor – a place where you can appreciate the potential of the visual and tactile language of natural stone, and where you can get hands-on experience with the quality of the materials, just like fabrics.

 

Living Divani Gallery: a story of theater, art, and nature all in one place

Here’s the second installment of a story that came out just over a year ago entitled Living Divani Gallery. The first instalment was dominated by the more theatrical characters from the firm, which first opened its showroom in Corso Monforte in 2020. What was presented at Design Week 2021, therefore, is its continuation – an expansion of the original experiment, with six showcases poised between art and innovation, which aim to communicate to visitors a clear sense of the brand. The work of designer and main director, Piero Lissoni, the new addition is essentially a secret garden, with everything revolving around the desire to stay connected with nature as well as the company’s own language of purity and simplicity. This is a gravitational center that makes the complex harmonious.

“The idea was to think in architectural terms, linking each individual element to the theme of the garden,” says Lissoni. “But instead of building actual terraces, the spaces were conceived as such.” Beginning, therefore, from the metal envelope – which is visible from the windows and highlighted by neon lights, and which houses, among other things, the curvaceous modular Rod Bean sofa designed by Lissoni, the Era Table coffee tables and Sailor bookcase by David Lopez Quincoces, and the small Lemni armchair by Marco Lavit – visitors make their way through a kind of telescope, decorated with graphic, historical, and evocative representations of Milan’s urban landscape. From there, they come to the interior skylight space, which is dedicated to Living Divani’s outdoor furniture collections, all set among the huge leaves of plants and beneath glimpses of the sky. A few highlights include Flow, a rocking chair designed by Shibuleru with an ultralight frame and stretched fabric cover, and more pieces from the 2021 collection. Along with the sofa by David Lopez Quincoces, there are the new Kasbah Low Tables, with up to three geometric tops that make numerous original combinations of materials possible.

The floor below is more intimate, characterized by canaletto walnut paneling and backlit walls, the two creating a sense of relaxation. Here visitors will find Lissoni’s The Uncollected Collection, a limited edition line that celebrates both Living Divani’s fiftieth anniversary and its artistic director’s thirtieth year at the firm. An armchair and coffee table with full, sinuous lines dominate the space with their brilliant colors. Beyond them are two other living areas, a meeting area, a dining area, and a bedroom. This is where the iconic Moon coffee tables, designed by Mist-o, can be found. The tables are now available in three versions, Full Moon, Moon Eclipse, and Moon Satellite, all united by the same essential cylindrical shape, embellished with oak grain.

 

RBM MORE: a new space for contemplating the invisible and designing with air

To create a constant interplay between the visible and invisible in a quasi–art gallery that exhibits while also concealing its wellbeing masterpieces – this was the seed that grew into the new RBM MORE showroom in Via Solferino, Milan. The space was opened as a part of Fuorisalone 2021 at an event curated by Marco Carini. “The inspiration was the performances of Dan Flavin, the New York minimalist artist who, in the seventies, began incorporating direct sensations into his works. Another inspiration was the site-specific installation by Olafur Eliasson for the Tate Modern in London in 2003, which had visitors physically experience the changing of the seasons. The new showroom is an invitation to think about and design living spaces with respect for every individual need, offering perfectly measured solutions and a healthy, comfortable living environment through creating synergies between different systems. Hot like the sun that warms the earth, light like the wind that brings freshness, fluid like water, spontaneous and silent like life.”

Inside a 19th-century building with brick vaults and exposed stone walls, visitors are invited to interact and engage with RBM technologies for controlling climate (and sound), with some products on display as if they were exhibits in a gallery and others integrated into the architecture. This is a unique way to communicate the function of these highly innovative, energy efficient, and environmentally friendly systems, which have been discreetly incorporated into a heritage-quality setting. After all, it’s important to understand the characteristics of each room so that you can also plan the voids – that is, the invisible spaces occupied by the air. According to the Brescia-based HVAC company, to do this you start by observing nature and then imitate it.

Inside the new showroom, therefore, visitors can compare products from RBM’s six different ranges, from floor units with parquet finishes, to units designed for plasterboard walls, and systems installed behind skirting boards or suspended ceilings. The heart of the showroom is the glazed experience room at basement level, where visitors can feel with their own senses the variations in heat, cold, fragrance, and silence delivered by operational, on-site systems. Nearby is a thermal inertia room for hands-on interaction with the technologies. The showroom has six different radiant heating systems installed in different spaces – from bathrooms to living rooms, bedrooms, and up to large exhibition spaces. They include ceiling systems as well as floor models (such as the FTA Series radiant air conditioning system) along with units for installation behind skirting boards and suspended ceilings (such as the BLT Series perimeter radiant heating and cooling system). Other systems are available for inspection. The displays of these units include blue and orange lighting to convey the idea of either heating or cooling. They’re also suitable for ceramics, parquet, concrete, clay, and even cork. For bathrooms, the products include electric radiant systems for installation behind mirrors as well as systems that recover heat from aspirated air.

During Milano Design Week, RBM also collaborated with Massimiliano Mandarini to design Super Studio Healthy, a sustainable design–based response to climate change and to the new normal created by the pandemic. These healthy, plastic-free, modular, and flexible spaces in which to work and live in harmony with nature renovate, upgrade, and integrate with existing spaces, as well as new builds, using dry building systems for fast, flexible construction, combined with exceptional energy performance.

 

Antrax Milano: a B&W showroom that doubles as an event venue

This space closely reflects both Antrax IT’s new corporate image and the firm’s 2020 collection, with its contrasting black and white reflecting the identity of a firm that’s always distinguished itself by its search for flexibility and the chromatic virtuosity of its radiators. All this is captured in the new single-brand showroom in Via San Damiano, right in the heart of Milan’s Durini-Monforte district. Unveiled during Design Week, and to coincide with the company’s twenty-fifth year in the world of design, the interior is the work of Victor Vasilev, who was commissioned by CEO Alberico Crosetta after the architect’s previous collaboration with the firm to create the Flaps radiator.

The two non-colors – black and opaque white – therefore take centerstage in both the furnishings and spaces, which, besides resembling galleries for displaying the firm’s numerous collections, will also be used to host events. The premises have over 1900 square feet (180 m2) of floorspace on two levels. The walls are wood paneled, while the rooms are furnished by De Padova with Flos lighting.

The possibility of adapting the spaces for different purposes is the result of the showroom’s museum-like design, with products – including ones designed by the likes of Piero Lissoni, Matteo Thun & Antonio Rodriguez, Daniel Libeskind, Dante O. Benini, as well as Vasilev – all displayed around the perimeter of the rooms. The only exception is the freestanding T-Tower model.

Although only the two opposite ends of the color spectrum are on display in the decor, a materials library has been set up in the basement, where over 200 shades for the radiators can be viewed. Some of the firm’s bestsellers include Serie T, Waffle, Android, Byobu, Flaps, Tubone, and Teso to name just a few. Made of 100% recyclable aluminum or carbon steel, Antrax radiators are available in a wide range of shapes and styles. A range of optional accessories is also available. But what makes these units so adaptable to different situations is the many sizes available, with the Serie T collection fully customizable, right down to the centimeter.

Both the products and the showroom also reflect the firm’s commitment to sustainability: “The wall panels, which are fully recyclable, are made from wood processing waste. They therefore have a low environmental impact since they don’t contribute to deforestation,” explains Vasilev. “The flooring is also made from recycled materials and doesn’t contain any heavy metals or phthalates. The metal hardware, on the other hand, is all recyclable, while an automation system lets us keep energy consumption down.”

From October to February 2022, the new showroom will be hosting the 25+25x25 exhibition, created by Marisa Corso in collaboration with the company. The goal of the event is to have leading Italian and international designers interpret the theme of the radiator, leaving it up to them to imagine new radiators in new spaces.

Photos are courtesy of Antolini, Living Divani, RBM e Antrax IT

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