Italy is back with full force at Design Miami/ 2012. As a country with one of the longest and most storied design histories the world over, there is a reason that the phrase “Made in Italy” carries such weight. With three galleries and a number of pivotal Italian designers present at this year’s fair, Design Miami/ 2012 offers a view of both the celebrated past and promising future that Italy confers upon design creation and tastemaking.
Out of Milan, Galleria Rossella Colombari – who has dealt with pieces by some of the most important Italian designers of the 20th century – is showing works by Giò Ponti, Carlo Mollino, and Andrea Branzi, among several others. The hallmark of the room is undoubtedly the tremendous dining table by Ico Parisi, placed in the center of the space. Early works by Giò Ponti are also present, including a pair of darkly colored nightstands from 1929 and a signature tonged coffee table with a glass top from 1939. Hand-made Futurist curtains by Gino Levi Montalcini adorn the walls and are accompanied by an original document by the artist. There is a beautiful collection of mixed materials and forms, ranging from stark and streamlined to ephemeral and dream-like.
Nilufar, a gallery nestled in the prestigious via della Spiga in Milan, was founded by Nina Yashar in 1979 and has been one of Italy’s most active and eclectic galleries since. For Design Miami/ 2012, Nilufar is showing Michael Anastassiades‘ Lit Lines lamps, a series of sleek, tripod lights that illuminate the space, and a series of blue and green chairs – forty-five in total – which all together make up a map of the Caribbean sea by painter and theorist Michelangelo Pistoletto.
Venice Projects‘ mission is to promote internationally recognized artists who work in the medium of glass. Through site-specific projects and cultural programming, they seek to open up a dialogue on the usages and experimentations with glass, bringing designers to work in their Murano furnaces. This year Venice Projects brings an exciting series called Metamorphosis by Pieke Bergmans that consists of streetlamp-style lights that bend in surreal and nearly unbelievable ways.
Design Miami/’s On/Site Galleries – which showcase small-scale but highly ambitious works – are also fit with a strong Italian presence. The Erastudio Apartment-Gallery is located in both an apartment and former horse-stable in Milan, and conducts site-specific exhibitions that underline the architecture of the building. This year, they’ve brought the work of internationally reputed Italian architect and designer Gaetano Pesce. Pesce has his America Table on display, a unique epoxy resin table cut like a map of the US, as well as his Jefferson Chair. Both serve as an ode to the United States and the writing of the Declaration of Independence by Thomas Jefferson in 1776.
Also participating in the On/Site program this year is Antonella Villanova, a contemporary jewelry and decorative object gallery, is showing rarely seen works by Delfina Delettrez. The collection includes bejeweled insects, finger-forms as earrings, and pairs of eyes on necklaces – outstanding pieces that command attention for their glamourous peculiarity. Villanova presents the curiously splendid works in a conceptual installation that allows the viewer to see the works on rotating iron plates through a mounted magnifying glass.
The Italian galleries and designers in attendance at this year’s Design Miami/ prove the strength of Italian design traditions and a pure commitment to eclecticism.