Vegetable vs. Alphabet Soup
Copyright Vladimir Kagan, April 27, 2012
Have you ever enjoyed your Mother’s vegetable soup? A mélange of healthy ingredients the first day – on the second, the leftovers are tossed into a blender to make a fine puree – it’s delicious but you can’t figure out the ingredients...That’s what the Salone is all about. Good ingredients thrown together into a blend of sameness. After wandering from hall to hall, it is hard to remember what you have seen. Twenty variations of Arne Jacobsen’s iconic Egg Chair, hundreds of wanabees Minotti sofas, all covered in a uniform grey, black or white upholstery. All that differs is the showcase in which they were displayed.
And then there are the few stand-apart companies that thrive on novelty and being different… not necessarily better. Among these: Edra, Driade, Paola Castelli… just to mention a few.
Edra, the foremost of the "try-anything-different" companies came up with this Octopus Chair being tested by my handsome Italian assistant, Federica.
Two more Edra chef d'eufs - a slouchie leather chair and a gian blop of rope - neither very sittable
My report is sketchy, as I did not have time to navigate the 20 airplane-hanger sized halls that make up this Colossus of a fair. Add to this the myriad of outside venues that are the chef d'euf of Milan’s hectic Salone week: I managed to take in three: An over-the-top event: Versace… An understated one: Hermes… A totally delightful one: Ingo Maurer… These were only the tip of the iceberg… A week is just not enough time.
One of my all-time favorite manufacturers is DeSedes of Switzerland - conservative - creative - superb quality... This amoeba shaped sofa has an ingenious "traveling" back that can be roll into any position creating a front-to-back seating capability... I have seen it before but loved finding it again at this fair.
One of the understated outside venues was Hermes' minimalist exhibit. It featured a play on their world-famous logo - here used as a laser-cut steel wall with leather squares geometrically hung by a concealed clip system
Still to come: Versace's wild party and Ingo Maurer's magic with lighting
My exhibit fell under the “different” category: Colorful: where most were bland – Open: where others were concealed behind fortressed walls with nubile guards attired in black miniskirts. Entertaining: we amused the audience with the animated drawings that were so successful in Paris. THE VLADIMIR KAGAN NEW YORK COLLECTION is a collection of 65 years of my designs – A mini-retrospective: For the first time we reintroduced lamps and accessories from the 40s. Iconic standards: the freeform sofas and chairs from the 50s, juxtra-positioned were my minimalist architectural designed cabinets and seating from the 60s and 70s: The “Nantucket” sectional sofas are a new addition, designed especially for Paris and Milan in 2012. Collectively, this exhibit reflected the yin and yang of my designing career.
The Nantucket Sectional Sofas 2012- in the background - the Sloane Swivel Chair
c 1955 and a lamp and candelabra from 1947
My support Team: Federico Cabrini and my son Illya, who has been appointed sales manager of the Vladimir Kagan Design Group
Contrasting my organic shapes - a linear glass-top dining table and chairs with an illuminated cabinet in the background - all designed in the 1960s
My exhibit was well staffed with three professional sales people, who kept very busy for five days. My job was primarily to hold hands, be photographed with clients from around the world and expound on my sixty-five years of design with sage advice to the public and press.
Traffic at the fair was brisk, an alphabet soup of nationalities (though fewer Americans). The clever organizers of Salone timed the show to virtually coincide with High Point Market, (thus keeping the copycats at bay). In the past, Milan opened its fair a month before High Point, giving devious manufacturers enough time to skulk the isles with their cameras and designers in tow… and voila! New Italian designs at High Point just a month later! – (Leave it to Yankee ingenuity to make it happen in such a record time….)
The show was a cornucopia of designs to satisfy everyone’s taste; if you couldn’t find the design of your choice - you may have been blinded by too much good food and wine the night before… It all can happen in Milan.