April 2019

Family is in the DNA of Molteni&C. The 80-year legacy of the Molteni Group is a story of a family with passion for fine craft, effortless embodiment of elegance and sleek Italian style. Since its humble beginnings with Angelo Molteni in 1934, Molteni&C has grown from a group of visionary entrepreneurs into an internationally renowned name with 12 commercial subsidiaries. So what can we expect from the company at this year’s Milan Design Week?

Angelo Molteni was one of 13 visionary Italian businessmen who promoted the first Salone del Mobile di Milano in 1961. Now, creative director Vincent van Duysen and his team are gearing up for the fair’s 58th edition. For the 50th anniversary of UniFor, a Molteni Group company since 1969, the company invited iconic designer Ron Gilad to curate and design a multimedia installation at the Palazzo Brera. UniFor was created with the objective to create ‘interior office landscapes that interpret and translate into reality the indications of its clients.’ Perhaps the brief sounds abstract to you and I, but the results of it have design and industry – hand in hand – creating spaces and atmospheres that sound like ice-cubes clinking against crystal. Gilad is partly based in Milan, giving him the insider insight to select the Palazzo Brera as an excellent venue for the duration of Salone, as it’s a focal point for Milan’s cultural and social life, housing its important museum and academy.

Arc table by Foster + Partners, 2010

Increasingly, as the age of the starchitect and superstar designer ebbs, there is a flow of cross-pollination among disciplines. Interweaving design, craft and technology is at the core of Molteni&C, and Gilad’s own work also converges on the lines between abstract artfulness and commercial industrial mechanisms. Given this underlying appreciation of the value of a rich discipline tapestry, Gilad’s multimedia installation focuses on three crucial columns of the future of design: education (Brera Academy), art (Pinacoteca di Brera) and industry (UniFor).

Another undeniable standout among the offerings from the Molteni&C empire during Milan Design Week is the Italian-Style Homes collection, fresh out of the new catalogue entitled –aptly –The Art of Living. The collection is a tenderly spoken dialogue between art and design, in which iconic Molteni&C pieces are paired with art pieces stylishly chosen by curator and writer Caroline Corbetta. It is in line with a concept that the brand calls Collector's House – and in the words of Van Duysen this juxtaposition ‘takes you a bit out of your comfort zone.’ In the years since Gio Ponti wrote in Domus that ‘art has fallen in love with industry’, it’s clear that industry has, in turn, fallen in love with art. A romance worth encouraging, as relationships between artists, architects and designers create an energising, dynamic energy.

Paul seating system, Jan coffee tables by Vincent Van Duysen 2016, D.156.3 armchair Gio Ponti 1956+2017, Vicino coffee table by Foster + Partners 2015

To stunning results, and very much representing its namesake, the Italian-Style Homes collection is photographed in beautiful settings. Among them, a natural favourite, is the Venetian palazzo that was restored by Carlo Scarpa. The palazzo, which was also a home, toes the line between land and water, allowing for the waters of the Venetian lagoon to caress its borders. Seemingly timeless – at once ancient and modern – the architectural marvel is an exquisite context in which Italian heritage, its legacy and future can be celebrated.

D.859.1 Table by Gio Ponti, 1959+2018, Woody chair by Francesco Meda, 2018
D.153.1 Armchair by Gio Ponti, 1953+2012
Albert seating system, Elain armchair by Vincent Van Duysen, 2018, Attico coffee tables and Atalante carpet by Nicola Gallizia, 2018
505 modular system by Nicola Gallizia 2016, MHC.3 Miss chair by Tobia Scarpa 1986+2016
This article appeared in DAM72. Order your personal copy.