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April 21, 2014

In Residence: Italo Rota

The Uncompromising Milanese Architect Discusses His Designs For Living

“As an Italian, I have always found the Renaissance period an unbearable bottleneck,” says Milanese designer Italo Rota. “I think what blocked the modernity of the 20th century has been this kind of thinking." Renowned for his use of light and strong gestures—from the restoration of Milan’s Piazza del Duomo to Roberto Cavalli’s phosphorescent Florence residence—Rota is an advocate for the evolution of contemporary architecture over heritage conservation. “The danger that Italian design was in has been elegantly overcome with great intelligence, allowing people all over the planet to play the game,” he says. “Today, most Italian design is designed by non-Italians. It is an inclusive system.” His progressive attitude extends to the development of the next generation of designers in his role as the unconventional Scientific Director of NABA and the Domus Academy. “My advice to a young architect is that all buildings are just one of the many clothes worn by that particularly capricious emperor we love to call architecture,” says Rota. “The gap between the ages of teachers, students and mentors should be reduced. I think the future is all about finding an equilibrium.”

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Spotlight

Philippe Malouin: Crystal Clear

The Young Designer's Must-See Picks at the London Design Festival

Photographer Ben Stockley documents rising talent Philippe Malouin's curated recommendations from the 10th London Design Festival. Launching in 2003, the festival promotes the forefront of contemporary design with exhibits across the capital. This year sees an immersive sound installation by Arup taking over Trafalgar Square and 100 design brands showcased at the old Post Office sorting house on New Oxford Street. Having graduated from the Design Academy, Eindhoven, and the École National Supérieure de Création Industrielle, Paris, Malouin was recently named Winner of the 2012 W Hotels Designer of the Future Award and received a Wallpaper* Design Award for best use of material. His newest work 'blur', seen at the London Design Museum, is a spellbinding Catherine wheel of multifaceted Swarovski crystal beads that rotate within the confines of digitally motorized pictures. These temporal LED ‘light paintings’ exploring memory and motion appear alongside works by Ron Arad, Yves Behar and Maarten Baas in the exhibition Digital Crystal. Here, Malouin gives props to his festival favorites.

Prosthesis and Innesti at Gallery Fumi
Construction workers on architect Marcio Kogan’s building sites anonymously created found-object structures, which were then curated and modified by his illustrious Brazilian architecture studio MK27: “The synopsis for the show sounds amazing. Spanning 4 years, debris and construction waste products were collected, catalogued and used to create new design pieces. A bit of a flashback to the Arte Povera movement with design in mind.”
16 Hoxton Square, London, N1 6NT, until 23 September.

The Wrong Shop Editions with prints by Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec and Pierre Charpin
The dynamic Bouroullec brothers and the enigmatic Pierre Charpin expose their design processes through limited-edition, signed prints: “I have been a fan of the Bouroullec's work since before I started studying design. These prints by the masters of form are hand-drawn and impossibly beautiful.”
twentytwentyone showroom,18c River Street, London, EC1R 1XN, until 23 September.

Hot Tools by ECAL at Libby Sellers
A new selection of work by Product Design Master students at the prestigious ECAL challenge the conventions of glassmaking: “I saw this show displayed in Milan this year and fell in love with the ingenuity these glassworks showed. Several students adopted creative manufacturing techniques and the results are beautiful.”
41-42 Berners Street, London W1T 3NB, until 22 September.

Bone China: New Works by Max Lamb, Suzanne Trocmé and Emily Johnson
“Bone China, produced by 1882 Ltd, is a contemporary bone china collection that is growing and proving to be exactly what England needed in terms of goods manufacturing. Bone china is reinterpreted by true design talents Max Lamb and Emily Johnson, and the result is very impressive.”
Bamford, 169 Draycott Avenue, London, SW3 3AG, until 22 September.

‘Blur’ by Philippe Malouin is in Digital Crystal: Swarovski at Design Museum until 13th January 2013.

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Spotlight

Richard Meier x Massimo Vignelli

On the Edge of Modernism With the Master Architect and the Genius Designer

Illustrious modernist Richard Meier and multi-disciplinary creator Massimo Vignelli reflect on their respective crafts, city life, and enduring friendship in this mesmeric film by Johnnie Shand Kydd. Shot at the minimalist offices of Richard Meier & Partners on 10th Avenue and West 36th Street, the two powerhouses discuss their collaboration on the firm’s forthcoming monograph, Richard Meier, Architect Volume 6, chronicling the stark, white, rationalist buildings that define the firm’s aesthetic. The Pritzker Prize laureate's most notable projects include the Getty Center in L.A., the Barcelona Museum of Contemporary Art, and more recently, the two glass-and-steel towers on Perry Street in New York’s West Village that Martha Stewart, Ian Schrager, Calvin Klein, and Nicole Kidman have all called home. Vignelli, too, has left a significant mark on Manhattan, having famously designed the New York subway map and signage, in addition to working on everything from packaging and furniture design to corporate identities for clients like BMW, Barney’s, Xerox and American Airlines. “Architects need to have a certain arrogance, a sense of self-belief,” posits Shand Kydd. “A designer, however, has to be more collaborative. Consequently, Meier and Vignelli have very different natures, but like all very talented people, they both look forward and not back.” Here Meier nonetheless looks to his present city, and beyond, to reveal his select few architectural necessities.

RICHARD MEIER’S TOP FIVES

Favorite buildings around the world:
Notre Dame du Haut in Ronchamp
Le Thoronet Abbey in Provence
Ryōan-ji in Kyoto
Fatehpur Sikri in Agra
The Guggenheim Museum in New York City

Favorite spaces in New York:
The plaza at the Seagram Building
The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Central Park
The Guggenheim Museum
My apartment

Things every architect should own:
A good supply of General’s Draughting Pencils
A Keuffel & Esser ruler
A 9 - 8 1/2 ft long work table
A white shirt and a black suit
A black Porsche 911

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