The past resounds like a siren in the design of today. Many companies try to attract customers with retro forms or re-editions. Ron Gilad has chosen another way to mark his debut as Danese’s new creative director. He has made a journey into the archives of the Milanese brand – a leading design protagonist in the 1950s, with pieces by Enzo Mari, Bruno Munari, and others. At the same time, Gilad has revisited his own very early products and prototypes – many of them created before he started to work with the industry in the noughties.

“What interests me is not to start from scratch but to find subjects that have been a little bit forgotten, like taking old toys and understanding how you can play with them as an adult”,says the designer. For the creative re-launch of Danese (purchased by Artemide in 1999), he spent nearly five consecutive months in Milano: “I wanted to revive the way the company used to work in the past, when there was an editor and very few designers and they were doing research rather than just making products”, explains Gilad.

Surface+Border
His first step as creative director was to severely reduce the number of products and designers. “I wanted to focus only on things to go on the table or on the wall”, he continues. In parallel, the designer developed a collection of new items for presentation in the Fragments of Life exhibition at the Danese headquarters. It is no coincidence that Gilad took Bruno Munari’s iconic Cubo Ashtray from 1957 and enlarged it to the size of a table, on top of which were placed the new pieces he designed himself: small objects such as trays or candleholders that oscillate between living, dining, and working situations. Centrepieces is the term Gilad uses to describe their diverse applicability at the border of functional objects and sculptures.

“There are many small and honest symbols in the exhibition reminding us of the past and sometimes even letting us laugh about it, humbly. For me, it is important to move on with the future in a lighter way”, emphasises Gilad. Before accepting this position he demanded enough freedom to be able to play and waste time on things that do not necessarily lead to final products. To mark the new direction, Gilad also added two dots to the Danese Milano logo: a hint to open the eyes – both to the past and to the future.

Oh Signore!
Life exhibition at the Danese headquarters
Life exhibition at the Danese headquarters