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Design Week Feature: Say Hello to Superstudio

Seventeen years ago design curator and fashion editor Gisella Borioli transformed the face of Milan’s design scene. By opening up the doors to her sprawling, Tortona-based warehouse complex to the city’s young, ambitious and endlessly creative designers, she started what we now know as the Fuorisalone. Almost two decades later, she’s still at it, curating Superstudio’s hotly anticipated Superdesign Show. We sat down with the prolific curator to reminisce on 17 years of groundbreaking design, and to find out what she has in store for this season.

by LUXOS Editorial 17 April 2018

This year you’ve chosen the theme ‘Only the Best’. What qualifies as The Best?

A lot of it is instinct and intuition. We want the whole package: high-quality projects that are different from everything else in the city.

What are the different curated sections you’ll have this year?

This year, we still have Selected Objects, which means small companies and designers show and propose innovative projects. We also have a few precise themes; one is Linear Light, which explores new trends for illumination. With new kinds of LED lights, it’s very easy to design more graphic lights with strong effects, which is very interesting. There is also Superloft, which is curated by Giulio Cappellini. He’ll show his ideas for an international contemporary house, where a real family could live. It will contain ideal versions of every room in the house: a kitchen, a living room, an exercise room, a bathroom, the laundry room and also the kids’ room and terrace. Each night of the fair we’ll host dinners in the house, where an exhibitor can invite 20 friends to a dinner party that’s been cooked right there in the kitchen. I’m also inviting three companies who do outdoor design to a project called ‘Under the Sky’ on our roof terrace.

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Are there any new trends you’re noticing this year?

Last year, after many seasons of metal, white, black and grey, we decided to go deep into colour and chose ‘Time to Colour’ as the theme. After that, we started to see colour everywhere. It wasn’t due to my deciding that theme — it just naturally came back. This year, we’re still working with a lot of colour, but designers are moving into more sophisticated tones: softer and slightly darker. There are more simple objects now — more simple furniture. We’ve had many seasons of very strong shapes and pieces that might not be comfortable. For a while, it was more important to be noticed, because if you were shocking, you were sure to be published. Now, I think that’s changing. It’s coming back to more simple, comfortable things. A kind of new classic that’s handmade, with more curation and more attention.

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Related: A Guide to Milan's Fuori Salone

In 2000, Superstudio was the first location to stand exhibiting works in the FuoriSalone. With so many projects across the city now having followed suit, how do you maintain your identity?

Unlike most places, we own our space. All the other big properties are rented out either by the community or companies. We made this project with the intention of making a commercial cultural space, where culture and business can exist together and give something to the city all year long. So that means we are able to control the quality of what happens here. We work all year long on these ideas, which allows us to stay at a top level of innovation and events. We have full control over every aspect.

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What has been the most memorable exhibition over the past 17 years?

There have been so many, it’s like asking which one of your children you love the most! But if I had to choose, it would be the first Cappellini show. I called Giulio Cappellini, who was already a very well known architect at the time, to show him this huge complicated space we had bought. He saw Superstudio one month before the Design fair and immediately cancelled his space at the Fiera. In one month he organised, with all of his brand and designer friends, a massive exhibition at our new space. It was a huge surprise for everyone in the city to see this big exhibit with different brands and young designers all together. It was shocking for the city, it was a new and different way of showing design. It was the first moment that people could see design in this new context.

For more on Superstudio, you can visit their website here.

Salone del Mobile runs from 17 to 22 April 2018 and Rho Fieramilano showground. Trade Visitors Only: 17-20 April, General Public: 21-22 April.

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