"Exploring reality beyond fashion that allow us to express our personality and creativity."
Special projects for the Fuorisalone have given rise to much talking, for their ability to unite charity events with the colours and the richness of nature. Who does not remember the Flower Market and the exotic fruits of the Mercado De Paloquemao? The latter has also earned a Milan Design Award.
Carolina Castiglioni is "Special Projects Creative Director" and is in charge of the management of special projects for Marni. She has always developed and coordinated the relations linked to charity initiatives, but was also in charge of the many digital initiatives that the company carried out.
We asked Carolina to answer a few questions, to understand better the relationship Marni has with Milan and to make her reveal to us some details of the project for Fuorisalone 2016.
What does Fuorisalone mean to you?
One of my favourite things about living in Milan is its “international moments”, when the city finds a balance between its typically Italian spirit and the spirit of a modern metropolis open to dialogue with other nations. Fuorisalone is one of those moments. The entire city is involved in stimulating the creativity of exhibitors and visitors, offering them the chance to learn about and discover new trends in Italian and international design.
And what does it mean to Marni?
It means a lot to Marni, in many different ways. There are many sides to Marni’s DNA, and the projects linked to Fuorisalone are one of the methods that Marni uses to open up dialogue with other worlds, not just the fashion world. This allows us to explore new languages and promote Marni’s values, aesthetic and identity on a number of different levels. Our special projects are not only an opportunity to collaborate with artists, artisans and different cultures, they also allow us to support the activities of the charities with which we have strong links. This results in a continual cultural exchange which constantly enhances our content and opportunities.
Marni launched a project dedicated to the world of design at Fuorisalone for the first time in 2011; how did that come about?
Our original idea was not to approach design in a classic way but from a desire to open up to a new way of expressing ourselves. Our first collection of chairs dates back to 2012. We came up with the idea because some parts of the Marni Jewellery collections came from Colombia, which meant that we were in contact with local artisans from there. We were interested in their work and their traditional products, which gave rise to the first limited edition of chairs inspired by Colombian tradition, made from metal, wood and hand-woven, coloured PVC cord. There was more of an active exchange in subsequent projects. We started to design different chair models and match them with other types of furnishings, but in strict collaboration with the local artisans who not only created the items for us but also shared their ideas and suggestions. This brought continuity to the project, which did not stop at the creation of different collections every year but evolved into a creative model. This collaboration also allowed these artisans to gain independence and emancipation, as was the case with the group of women that worked with us this year.
How do you design an event for Fuorisalone compared to an event for Fashion Week?
The concept is basically the same, i.e. exploring reality beyond fashion, which allows us to express our personality and creativity. With all our special projects, we try to build a dialogue with different, cross-cutting elements.
How important is the user experience when creating an event at Fuorisalone?
For us, involving the public is fundamental. We have realised that successfully building an experience in which visitors can actively participate creates a unique atmosphere and leaves a special mark. That’s why we always design workshops for adults and children, so that anyone who visits us is not just a spectator but an integral part of the project that we are offering.
What are the main ingredients of your design collections?
They are more about creating a moment than a design item. Each year, the collections reinterpret Colombian artisanal traditions in a different way, in line with the look that characterises the Marni identity. We always like to add new elements that give the collection a different feel. That’s why the staging plays a fundamental role in putting our ideas into practice.
You chose to work with artisans, making the most of simple, humble materials and putting the spotlight on the concept and shape of the product. What brought this about and how does it link with research for the development of your fashion collections?
Researching materials and techniques to use is fundamental when designing fashion collections.The main aim when creating an outfit is to convey a precise look that captures our idea of style and personality. Our design collections follow the same process. The items reflect our feeling for colour and our taste for unexpected combinations and overlaps. Year after year, the limited editions we offer for Fuorisalone integrate with each other, driving a dialogue built on traditions, culture, art and colour.
What’s new for the next edition?
We recently launched our Eyewear collection with Looking For Marni, a thoroughly theatrical event in which visitors were surrounded by performers and discovered each scene and character as they moved around the space. Contact with the performing arts has been hugely inspiring for us and made us realise what we would have liked to add to the experiences that we previously created for Fuorisalone in terms of complete involvement: movement, music and dance. Therefore, we reflected on the relationship between our design objects and the traditions of the country they come from, Colombia, and we transformed our space on Viale Umbria into a ballroom, the Marni Ballhaus. Visitors will be able to discover and learn how to dance the Cumbia, an ancient Colombian dance for couples involving full, long skirts that the dancers swirl around creating beautiful moves, which we designed for the occasion using prints from the Marni archives. Visitors will be able to attend and take part in demonstrations by professional dancers who will dance to the rhythm of live music performances with singing and percussion. We have dedicated Friday 15 April to children in years four and five of primary school who can take part in various workshops and learn about a different culture to theirs.The setting for all this action will be enhanced by the new home furnishings collection which, this year, includes chairs, chaise longues and rocking chairs as well as tables, lamps and vases in a limited edition of around 130 items made from metal, wood and hand-woven PVC cord.
Must-see at Design Week 2016
Try not to miss anything! I love riding round the city on a moped with a small group of close friends on the hunt for new projects and designers.
On the occasion of Milan Design Week 2012, Marni presents a collection of one hundred chairs crafted in Colombia by a group of ex-prisoners, with the aim to facilitate their return to the workforce. The project is linked to the work of photographer and videomaker Francesco Jodice, in a photographic exhibition which captures the world of Marni. The chairs become a stage on which Marni employees pose: a homage dedicated to them that is destined to stand the test of time; a video tells their story.
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