Milano my Love

Milano. It’s the holy grail of all design aficionados worldwide. When spring arrives, so do the new designs. My first visit to Milan was with the team of TuttoBeNe, who were also responsible for the magazine Connecting the Dots. In its pop-up showroom, TuttoBeNe offered an overview of young Dutch and Belgian designers and tried to connect them with producers and press. The magazine offered a – much needed – overview of all of the Dutch activities. The Italian friend at who’s place I was staying said, sniggering, that the Dutch took over his city during the Salone. And to be frank, the amount of Dutchies in Milan was and is both impressive and slightly scary.

The name Salone officially refers to the fair: Fuori Salone or the Salone del Mobile. A huge event that takes place at the Rho Fiera, a venue as large as an airport packed with basically every industrial design possible. Kitchens, bathrooms, tiles, floors, cushions, fabrics, chairs and so forth and so on. And yes, all the large brands can be found there, but . . . the best place to go, or should I say: places to go, are around town. At i Salone. The side-programme where wonderful things might be found.

When I started going to the Salone del Mobile, Lambrate wasn’t even on the maps. Everybody gathered together in the Zona Tortona. Former garages, warehouses and empty buildings were turned into pop-up stores/showrooms holding the classics of the future. I remember spotting Sjoerd Vroonland’s Ladder Chair for the first time, Pieke Bergmans’s dripping Light Bulbs, Maarten Baas’s Smoke Chair – just to name a few. But I also remember Lensvelt and Atelier Van Lieshout’s insane WW II presentation, when it was freezing and they were serving hot food to keep spirits up and visitors warm. Or the wonderful collaboration between Heineken and EnD with the touchscreen bar.


Freedom Lamp by Van Lieshout
Bar Basso
Salone del Mobile, Milan
Atelier van Lieshout Lensvelt AVL Glyder Furnication WWIII Milan Salone 2012 2
Atelier van Lieshout Lensvelt AVL Glyder Furnication

As soon as February starts my heart starts to glow and I try to book myself a room in eager anticipation of a week filled with beauty, discoveries, good food (hey, you’re in Italy) and parties. First of all, the Salone is filled with parties. Whether a gallery opening, a product presentation or the regular aperitivo, the Milanese will find a reason to celebrate. But secondly, for the last ten years, my birthday was during this week, and when that happens year after year, people start to celebrate with you. I’m not sure whether the best party was on the rooftop of a penthouse in the middle of Milano with the Alessi and Moooi team, or when the Lensvelt team surprised me with champagne at midnight. 

My birthday aside, at Atelier Van Lieshout the heat is on right now. Several products are being finalized and it’s not certain that they’ll be ready in time for the Salone. Yes, the Statistocrat lamp will be shown at Moooi, but will the Lazy Modernist at Lensvelt be ready on time and will it fit in the concept of this year’s presentation? The Golden Ratio, which defines whether or not a product or a work of art is up to Joep’s standard, is sometimes hard to define. Just last week, Joep was literally taping the sides of the prototype of his new design. Height, length, width, colour. Everything matters.

Luckily for you, WOTH readers, I have a sneak preview of a work that will definitely be shown. In Milan, you’ll have the chance to see Joep’s latest collaboration: the Freedom Lamp. A work of art that doubles as a lamp, with the proceeds from its sale going to an organization called Young in Prison. It’s a limited edition, and first-come, first-served. 


by Eva Olde Monnikhof
Director AVL-Mundo Atelier Van Lieshout



This production was published in WOTH No4. This issue is still available in english via Bruil & van der StaaijOr get a subscription here!

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