Portland design reporter Damon Johnstun will cover the 60th edition of Salone del Mobile, the prestigious furnishing and design show, June 7-12 at Fiera Milano Rho in Milan, Italy. The trends and products that debuted during Milan Design Week last year are showing up in showrooms. Here is a designer spotlight:
On the recommendation of a friend during Milan Design Week 2019, I attended an event by the Swiss manufacturer Geberit, which makes wall-hung bathroom fixtures. I was struck by the inventive display. Tubes created an enclosure that could easily have been a forgettable installation. Competing with the very best design in the world, this humble use of materials not only elevated the experience but was memorable years after seeing it.
The creators of the exhibition are the founders of the architecture, interior and product design firm Storage Milano. Since 2002, the firm has earned an impressive reputation by designing boutiques for major luxury fashion brands such as Bulgari, Dolce & Gabbana, Tod’s and Alberta Ferretti as well as corporate and residential spaces.
Storage Milano founders Barbara Ghidoni, Marco Donati and Michele Pasini use their knowledge and refinement to mix natural colors and materials in unexpected ways. They take inspiration from designers Gio Ponti, Jean Prouve and others, and present modernize, newsworthy spaces.
Sometimes they leave the surrounding environment almost raw, while creating jewel box-like structures within the space as seen in the Bally showroom in Milan and Antonioli hangar in Ibiza. Other times, every inch of a project is lavished with fine materials such as at the Spazio Pritelli boutique in Vicenza where hundreds of square feet of diamond-matched slabs of marble create a kaleidoscopic wonderland.
The sophisticated use of curves with angles is reminiscent of nautical themes at the entrance to Dsquared2 in Milan and the Giuseppe Zanotti shop in Hong Kong. Ghidoni, Donati and Pasini demonstrate mastery of almost brutal minimalism in shops for Neil Barrett, Aquasalata and Golran.
During Milan Design Week 2021, I stopped by the Storage Milano office near Piazza Venezia, where I entered from a quiet street and was buzzed into the building. I was met in the courtyard by Donati, one of the partners.
Donati described Storage Milano’s strategy to reinterpret the DNA of a brand. If the clients are asking for something moody based on the 1940s–1950s, they do it. “We do it in our way, but we respect the client,” said he. One project was inspired by the Novecento Italiano art movement of the 1920s.
On a new project, Donati sees his role in the theoretical and architectural arena as Ghidoni excels at details and decoration — she took the lead on the Dolce & Gabbana boutique — while Pasini bridges between both realms.
Donati considers shape, form and architecture to select materials for each project. “If I see something that is not a pleasing shape, no matter what the material, I won’t like it,” he said.
Although the firm is known for extensive use of brass, Donati personally leans toward natural wood and stone. He currently favors colors in a natural or neutral palette such as light brown as well as blacks and grays. He uses bright colors only as accents.
He estimates that 50 percent of the firm’s work is for retail, 30 percent is for offices and restaurants, and 20 percent is residential.
They are currently working on the design of several private houses, hotels, a restaurant in Mykonos and one in Milan, a flagship fashion store and energy-efficient offices for Bally in Switzerland. They are also near completion of the design for Italian eyewear conglomerate Luxottica’s headquarters in Milan’s Tortona district.
Acting as “architects loaned to interior design projects,” they will also renovate more than 20,000 square feet for online marketplace Archiproducts’ headquarters in Bari, Italy.
In addition to architecture and interior design, they have several Industrial design projects for tiles, lamps, armchairs, faucets and wallpaper.
“One of the key secrets of our success is we listen to the client. If we think something is wrong, we start a discussion and the discussion always makes the project better,” Donati said. Good design “is a balance between function and form.”
— Damon Johnstun
More Damon Johnstun design stories:
• Top brand furnishing trends: Luxurious textures, chunky shapes, ‘70s ruching soften hard edges
• Archiproducts is an online design wonderland
• Your home office deserves a standout modern chair designed by Eames, Saarinen, Citterio
• Formafantasma, Rethinking the Future
• Designer Antonio Citterio’s guide to contemporary Italian elegance
• Minimalist master Piero Lissoni is surprisingly funny: Milan Design Week
• Step into Dimore Studio’s evocative world: Milan Design Week (photos)
• Quietly elegant office chairs come home: An interview with Jeannette Altherr
• Hive Modern hosts Italian luxury furniture boss Patrizia Moroso
• Christian Lacroix’s Sacha Walckhoff creates carpets for Moooi
• Paris-based designer’s elegant work documented in new book ‘Joseph Dirand Interior’
• ‘Milan is the capital of design’ says Nina Yashar of Nilufar galleries
• Furniture impresario Giulio Cappellini in Milan (photos)
• Papilio chair inspired by swallowtail butterfly: Naoto Fukasawa in Milan
• Modern furniture inspired by the Mini Cooper: GamFratesi in Milan
• Gallery owner Rossana Orlandi: Starmaker of furniture designers
• Designer Bethan Laura Wood’s lighting inspired by lollipops
• Architect, furniture designer Vincent Van Duysen: ‘Timeless modernism’
• Lighting designer Michael Anastassiades: Simplicity from complexity
• A $100,000 pool table: ‘The price for the pursuit of perfection’
• Ferruccio Laviani: Design-obsessed people know his name, others will soon
• Bisazza interprets iconic Pucci prints in mosaic: Reflecting on Milan design shows
• A glimpse into Giancarlo Giammetti’s lavish book ‘Private’
• Barcelona’s early modernist masterpiece: Mies van der Rohe’s Pavilion
• Baccarat partygoers in Milan treated to iconic crystal luxury
• Self-taught multicultural designer Philippe Nacson invests in a new future: Design City
• Design Week Portland kickoff party: Nonstop visual wows
• Magritte-inspired boudoir and a nude pink room with a velvet loveseat: Snapshots of a furniture fair