One of the most exciting things about Milan Design Week are the locations of all of the wonderful exhibits. Crumbling old Palazzos, abandoned cellars and in this case the offices of Vogue Italia. I am by no means a fashionista, however, I knew this was going to be good when I discovered that eight designers, such as Patricia Urquiola and Faye Toogood, had been asked to redesign the fashion headquarters. The idea was to bring the qualities of interior design into the workplace and utilising them to create spaces that encouraged creativity and productivity by promoting relaxation, connecting with nature or surrounding oneself with classic, inspirational design.
Upon arrival at the Vogue floor of the Conde Nast building the first installation was in your face. It actually looked like the builders were in and we were going to be asked to don hardhats and flouro jackets as Mario Bellini’s upended scaffold planks lined the walls of the main corridor. Personally, I would have preferred to have had an unobstructed view of the early shots of Kate and Naomi and the rest of the original supermodel crew that created a perfect gallery wall. However, the planks were part of the architect’s attempt to introduce nature into the building, constructing a spine of bare boards, injecting the hallway with the texture and resinous scent of wood.
Faye Toogood transformed editor-in-chief Emanuele Farneti’s room into a welcoming, warm and soft space – in opposition to the traditionally intimidating reputation of the boss’s office she decided to celebrate openess and inclusivity based on her own previous experience of working at a magazine.
She covered the walls in hand-painted canvas created from portraits of previous Vogue covers, added textural throws and rugs, provided rounded furniture from her Roly Poly range and made the centrepiece being a ceramic work entitled ‘Family Bust No.3’ to complete the rounded, curved design.
Michael Bargo designed the Beauty Editor’s office decorating it with 60’s and 70’s classic perfumes and cosmetics, pieced with retro furniture and using a palette of monochrome and red, the futuristic colours of the time. There are geometric prints and historical ad campaigns adorning the walls giving a classic, vintage feel.
Antonio Citterio and Patricia Viel had the job of revamping the Art Department room where they installed a long, large table encouraging the idea of working together whilst also creating quiet, comfortable corners for reflection or the chance to switch off, separated from the main room by the use of plants and screens. Their intention was to develop the concept of creativity growing from real experiences and therefore encouraging positive feelings from interaction with others and shared ideas.
Giovanni Bianco, Vogue’s creative director, had his room reimagined by designer Sabine Marcelis. The room was split into two with the first part of the room a vibrant yellow with touches of nature and a beautiful piece designed by Marcelis on the wall this was divided by a curtain that had been printed with archived Vogue covers and campaigns to illustrate how ideas are informed by the past but need to be translated into something new and fresh. The other part of the room had a perspex desk and the reverse side of the curtain was white presenting a blank canvas where new ideas can be formed.
I’m always intrigued to discover what Patricia Urquiola has been up to and her design of the Newsroom, made up of two rooms, did not disappoint. Inspired by a poem by Keats, the two rooms sit juxtaposed, one in the past, housing the library, a space for contemplation and full of memories and the other looking to the future. The former draped in botanics and the latter a stimulating riot of colour and textures. An electric blue curtain wraps around the room, the colour continued on the carpet, Urquiola’s own rug for CC-Tapis features, as do a raw-wood desk and marble table covered in plastic toys, books and a robot dog.
The Belgian duo Muller Van Severen restyled the Talent Room. They dismantled the space but retained all of the personal items, trinkets, cards, pictures and magazines on the shelves to retain the soul of the space. They then installed two of their own sculptural multifunctional pieces of furniture for seating and relaxing, one made from wired steel and the other primary-coloured lacquered wood – they connected the space with a simple red painted line outlining the walls and door.
Last, but not least, was my absolute favourite room, the meeting room by Quincoces-Dragò & Partners. It was stunning! A two-toned room, with the lower half painted a beautiful deep blue furnished in a mixture of materials, warm wood, metal shelving and a composite table, they designed a space that had a feeling of individuality and eclectism, drawing on different cultures and histories to tell a story in order to promote new stories. A tribute to classic and contemporary design, there was lighting from Apparatus, the centerpiece of the room being the ‘Alamo’ table designed by David Lopez Quincoces for Lema Mobili beneath which lay a vintage Saharan mat provided by Altai Gallery, with iconic pieces from Nilufar Gallery and Six Gallery.