Design Forever, a tribute to timeless design to celebrate the Salone’s 60th anniversary

reading time: 7 minutes

Salone del Mobile 2022: Marazzi interviews Paolo Brambilla - 1
Studio Calvi Brambilla

interview with Studio Calvi Brambilla

Calvi Brambilla co-founder Paolo Brambilla tells us about the exhibition at Palazzo Bovara and his original use of architectural materials, especially Marazzi surfaces.

Design Forever is a tribute to the Salone’s sixtieth anniversary: it was on 24 September 1961 that a group of furniture manufacturers launched what proved to be an amazingly successful idea, and established an event of primary importance for the entire interior design sector. The installation, commissioned from a well known Milan firm, proclaims the universal, timeless status of good design values.

The Elle Decor show at Palazzo Bovara is a regular event, but this year the occasion is a special one…
Livia Peraldo Matton, editor in chief of Elle Decor, called us in to create Design Forever, an exhibition that pays tribute to the history of the Salone. The pieces displayed were chosen with great care: we worked to construct an unconventional dialogue between past Masters and many talented young designers, both Italian and international, who are reinterpreting the values and language of Italian design.
The installation consists of a series of rooms, for which we selected the pieces and materials together with the featured companies; we made every effort to avoid a vintage or museumification effect. Good design is timeless: this is the message the show seeks to convey.

How did you approach working in the historic interiors of a late Eighteenth Century building?
By highlighting them yet at the same time reaffirming the absolute worth of contemporary design; here again, the dialogue is open, and the solutions suggested can be quite unexpected.
The exhibition opens with an installation which I designed together with Fabio Calvi, before moving on to an interactive installation conceived by digital art studio Kokoschka Revival.
This is followed by four rooms, each containing a provocative interior design idea: Pure, Mobile, Bold and Hybrid. Here, Marazzi ceramics help to recount the eternal liaison between past and future, giving it a personal interpretation. The first product we encounter is the Puro Marazzi Antibacterial The Top slab – in 12 mm thickness – which covers the reception counter, in the Travertino Classico material effect, enhanced by latest generation technologies which, in this case, guarantee the surface’s absolute resistance to bacteria.

It is an excellent preparation for the heart of the exhibition…
In the Bold room the design materials used have an organic, maternal, fluid and welcoming character, and are placed within a space of hard surfaces, where metal predominates. For the porcelain stoneware floor we chose Mystone Ceppo di Gré in two shades – Greige and Grey – which alternate in a pattern of equilateral triangles.
This interior recalls the metallic walls designed by Cini Boeri. We chose Ceppo di Gré because we were amongst the first to use it: the stone most closely associated with Lombardy and Milan, it confirms our bond with our city’s architectural and construction tradition.

The delightful, surprising Pure room contains design objects in primary forms and is completely white. The walls are covered in a furry material and the floor is just as white but glossy. Here the Grande Solid Color White collection was installed with the ceramic pieces custom-cut.
The reference for this interior is the monochrome homes created in the Seventies by Nanda Vigo. Specifically, it evokes the “Casa Bianca” (White House) which, in turn, built on the designer’s work in the interiors of the “Lo scarabeo sotto la foglia” (The beetle under the leaf) villa, the home of collector Giobatta Meneguzzo, designed by Gio Ponti.

The concept extends into a reflection on how domestic interiors have changed in recent years
In the Hybrid room, the last in the sequence, we presented a space where the various home living functions - work, rest, fun, entertainment - are not compartmentalised but rather interlinked. They simply merge into each other and the design pieces featured are also more experimental and cutting-edge: they evade traditional classifications and open out to new interpretations.
In this room, from a certain height on the walls upwards, visitors are able to appreciate the beauty of the Eighteenth Century architecture, with its pillars and period decorations. The walls surrounding the exhibit itself, on the other hand, are clad with a boiserie panel of small (15x5 cm) porcelain stoneware brick-size tiles in “Blu” shade, with a luminescent surface: they come from the Crogiolo Rice collection, with an uneven texture that evokes “hand-made” ceramics.
This use of small-size tiles strikes a provocative contrast with the allure of the Nineteenth Century ornamental plasterwork.

The aim was to work with the materials in an experimental way, conveying a message very different from that to be found in a trade fair or in a showroom.