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Today we’re delving deeper into the way Italian Interior Designers have changes not only design as many people used to know it but also the world. It’s no surprise that Italy (more specifically Milan) is still regarded as a pillar of reference when it comes to quality design and significant changes in several sectors of this area.
From the ultra famous Dimore Studio or Antonio Citterio to more local but incredible Interior and Product Designers, Italy and Italian Design have always presented us with several strong and powerful examples of luxury and quality design works, inspirations and projects that put our imagination and design taste in overdrive!
From amazing Home Interior Projects or stunning Contract Examples to incredible Showcases or Expositions in some of Italy’s top Galleries, in this top guide/ article, you’ll find the Best of the Best of Italian Design and Italian Creativity! We’ll go beyond the Luxury Brands and the Luxury Designers and we’ll show you the Backstage and the true Nature, Quality and Creativity of the grand world of Italian Design and Interior Design!
Alongside with Mendini, Gio Ponti was also part of the Modernity Movement of the Italian Design! This two Italian design icons helped elevate the Design Industry in this country and in Milano, and they both had a powerful contribution in the progressive transformation of this cultural hub into the top Design Capital of the country and into one of the Design Capitals of Europe!
On his own, Ponti is considered the father of modern Italian design, but to be fair he was only one part of a much larger movement: But no one doubts that Ponti was one of the ones that started the Design Movement in Italy and he developed a method of introducing his prolific work and method to the entire industry.
There was little that Ponti couldn’t do. He trained as an Architect and in this Job, he created some of Italy’s most stunning and modern structures, like the Pirelli Tower, a statement of Modern Italian Architecture and a Vehicle for the Modernity of Design! But he also made a name for himself designing ceramics, glassware, and furniture, in fact, his life work was at the basis of some of the great design brands of today!
We’ll start with the beginning and by this, we mean to say that we’ll star with the Legends and Icons that Inspired and Kickstarted the Growth of the Italian Design Industry. One of those legends recently left us in 2019, and his name is Alessandro Mendini! This top product designer was one of the Fathers of Modern Italian Design and during his long and prestigious career he helped shape the incredible industry of Italian Furniture and it’s amazing Craftsmanship Style!
Famed for designs that include the iconic Proust Armchair, Mendini was one of those Legends who were at the front row of the radical design of the Italian Modernity movement that started in the 1960’s. He produced some of the most stunning projects, but at the backstage, he also helped Italy’s Editorial/ Media business to grow to incredible new heights with his incredible inside knowledge of Design!
With their powerful and unique style, Ponti and Mendini will always be remembered as the Founding Fathers of Modern Italian Design, but they must share this status for all eternity with other great design icons, namely Achille Castiglioni, Gae Aulenti, Joe Colombo, Franco Albini, Mario Bellini, Luigi Caccia Dominioni, Enzo Mari, Carlo Mollino, Carlo Scarpa or Marco Zanuso! As you can see, Italy’s Design History is rich in Design Influences and Amazing Creators, and that’s why this is one of the Top Design Markets in the World.
Legends like Ponti or Bellini inspired all of the great Architects and Product or Interior Designers of today’s Italian Design Industry. We can’t find one Great Name of Today’s Design that isn’t inspired by at least one of the names mentioned before and that says a lot about the legacy that those legends left the Designers of Today. In fact, some of the Top Designers of today were Mentored by those Legends of the Past.
One of the top names of today’s Italian Design is Antonio Citterio. Like all the design legends that inspired his youth, Citterio started his career in Milano and like his hero, Gio Ponti, Citterio started his Academic and Professional life as an Architect. From 1987 to 1996, Citterio worked in association with Terry Dwan in several amazing buildings in Europe and Japan, but after many years spent designing buildings, Citterio also decided to follow the footsteps of Ponti and became a prominent Furniture and Industrial Designers!
In the capacity of Product Designer, Citterio helped shape the World and Style of some Top Italian Brands of Today, namely Vitra, Ansorg, Arclinea, Axor-Hansgrohe, B&B Italia, Flexform, Flos, Hermès, Iittala, Kartell, Maxalto, Sanitec (Geberit Group) or Technogym! All of them showcase in their most popular Collections of all time at least one piece designed by Citterio and those pieces bear his amazing trademark style that boosts Italian Modernity and a more Contemporary Vibe!
The versatility of Citterio also reaches the world of Interior Design Projects. To better pursue this career, Citterio founded, in 2000, with Patricia Viel, the Antonio Citterio Patricia Viel Studio, a cross-disciplinary practice for architecture and interior design that is always developing complex projects on all scales in collaboration with a qualified network of specialist consultants. one of this firm’s top project was the incredible BULGARI HOTEL in Shanghai in 2018, where Citterio and Biel used that Iconic Touch of the famous designer by promoting the use of modern Chairs and Tables!
Also related to the world of Luxury Interior Design we can find another major name of the current Design Industry in Italy. We are of course talking about the Dimore Studio, another heavy hitter studio based in Milano that’s quickly becoming an International Trend Setter. Head Designers Emiliano Salci and Britt Moran both invested in their individual experience and founded in 2003 this now prestigious studio on the hopes that this institution could become a beacon for Italian Design!
And that’s precisely what this studio has become. With a focus on Design Art and Fashion, the Dimore Studio have collaborated in the past few years of some of the great names of Italian craftsmanship like Ceramica Bardelli, but their list of clients/ partnerships also includes some top names of Italian Luxury, like Fendi. In fact, Dimore Studio was responsible for the redesign of some of the most iconic Fendi Shops in Italy and they work closely with this brand in their Design Projects in Italy.
Fendi knows that Dimore will always represent the Essence of Italian Design and, since Fendi it’s also a Top Italian Ambassador, they know that only a Great Name of Italian Design can perfectly recreate the image that they want to transmit! This love of the Dimore Studio for the World of Art and the Style of Italian Design led it’s Head Designers to create the Dimore Gallery, a top Design Gallery in the Heart of Milano where this studio pays a constant tribute to the past, present and future inspirations and products of Italy!
We couldn’t pass the opportunity of mentioning another great name of Italian Design, but like the other Two Giants mentioned earlier, this one is native of Italy but his influence is well present in the Italian Design Industry. That’s right, Karim Rashid design impresses because of the quantity (over 3000 pieces produced, 300 prizes and presence in 40 countries), diversity (furniture design, spaces, product, new technology, lighting, packaging, fashion, identity, surfaces and not only) and modernity and it’s this versatility that led him to focus in Italy, as well as France in Canada.
Rashied studied in Italy and that’s why is style is influenced by the Italian Style of Design. Even though we can trace his origins to French Design, it was in Italy that Rashid learns all of the skills and absorbed all the influences that allow him to become that top Interior and Product Designer that he is today.
That’s why Rashis is, like Dimore and Citterio, a top and recurrent presence in all the major Design Events in Italy and a Top Reference for all major luxury brands, publications, galleries and design museums of Italy. There are many other names of today’s Italian Design that are also shared with other Cultures and Countries. One of those top designers is Patricia Urquiola!
Top collaborator of Kartell and a regular presence at the prestigious Salone del Mobile event, Urquiola is one of today’s faces of French Design, but it’s also impossible to disassociate her name with the Italian Design Industry. In fact, Urquiola is one of the patrons of Italian Craftsmanship, in fact, in 2018 she was the Guest of Honor of Homo Faber, a top Craftsmanship Event in Venice where she presented a strong showcase of her Colorful Style mixed with the Craftsmanship Values of Italy, namely the love of this country for Hand Made and Elaborate products in Wood and Glass!
With stunning projects around the world, including Italy, Urquiola always manages to bring to her Italian Designs and Creations those inspirations that are at the core of her education and that helped her become one of the top designers in the world. From her award-winning project at Hotel Il Sereno in Lake Como to more residential Projects in Central Italy, Urquiola provides each Italian project the passion and the style that characterizes but always adapted to the Italian Culture.
Ludovica and Roberto Palomba are also Top Names of today’s Italian Design! They are the two founders of the Palomba Serafini Associati, a powerful design studio based in Milan, Italy, that was created in 1994. For the past years, they have been collaborating with the most prestigious design brands from all over the world, namely Poltrona Frau, and the majority of their products designed since 1994 is still in production, making them some of the most long-standing design studios in production in Italy!
And like Ludovica and Palomba or all the other names on this List, the very own Italian Style that characterizes many products from the Top Italian Brands can also be found in the heart of the architectural projects of one of Italian architecture biggest names: the award-winning Piero Lissoni, the internationally known architect and designer with a vision for spaces, ambiances and time. Through his works we will see the developing world of architecture in Italy and in the world reflected in his hospitality projects, furniture designs and futuristic ideas.
It’s not only within the Interior Design Industry or the Architectural Business that the powerful Italian Style is evoked. Also linked to that two powerful industries we have another major vehicle of the Italian Design: The Art World. Well, the relation of Italy with Art is legendary. Most of the major Artists of the World, from the Ancient Art to the Contemporary Age, are Italian or build their careers in Italy, but even though masters like Leonardo DaVinci, Rafael, Donatello or Michelangelo are still strong sources of inspiration for today’s Italian Art Scene, today we are focusing on the Design Art!
It’s within the specific category of the Art World where we can find even more stunning examples of the characteristic Italian Style and Way of Life! There are many big names of the Italian Design Art Scene that mixe their love for both Art and Design and it’s time for us to highlight those names.
One of the more irreverent names of both the Art & the Design scene is Rossana Orlandi. This Lady of Italian Design is amazing and the perfect example of how the worlds of Interior Design, Art and Craftsmanship can come together under one single roof. That’s precisely what Orlandi tried to do when she opened the Gallery Rossana Orlandi in 2002 in a former tie Factory in the Magenta neighbor.
Galleria Rossana Orlandi has been forecasting along the years new and upcoming designers and establishing the premise as one of the most revered platforms for avant-garde Design and Lifestyle. Started her activity focusing on the rising Dutch design wave with designers such Piet Hein Eek, Maarten Baas and Nacho Carbonell the research has moved widely around the world creating a catalog which reflects the most innovative scenes from Europe to Asia to America, but always with a strong focus on the Italian Inspirations!
Gaetano Pesce and Piero Fornasetti are other of the two biggest names linked to Craftsmanship, Art and Design. With a passion for Murano Glass and other Italian Classic Design Techniques, such as Wood Craving and Porcelain Work, these two top designers and top instigators of the value of Craftsmanship in the Italian Design Industry are two of the top flagship names of Italian Value in the World of Art and Design! Piero Fornasetti was one of the top Artists of Italy and, when he died in 1988, his legacy was kept alive by his studio that, till today, is kept in business by a dedicated team of professionals that bring to life in new design projects and pieces the life and work of this Italian master.
No wonder their respective work, along with other projects of a few other Italian Art Designers, are constantly on display at some of the Top Italian Design Galleries, like de iconic and worldwide famous Nilufar and Italian. The Art Council of these two and other major Art Galleries in Italy are increasingly responsible for the elevation of Italian Design worldwide and whether it is in Milan, Roma, Florence or Naples, every single major Art Gallery in Italy has one specific mission: Elevate Italian Design & Craftsmanship!
Needless to say that one of the biggest supporters and partners of the Italian Design Industry is also one of the major design events in the world: The Salone Internazionale del Mobile. This top event was founded in 1961 as a vehicle for promoting Italian furniture and furnishings exports and soon became the most keenly awaited event in the world of furniture.
With spin-off events in Asia and Eastern Europe, the Salone del Mobile is, without a doubt, the most important event of the Design Scene in Italy and one of the most important ones in Europe. It’s at this prestigious event held in Milano that all major Luxury Brands, Designers e Art Promoters come together to celebrate the best that Italy has to offer within the Design Industry.
It’s no coincidence that this event is held in the same week that the prestigious Milan Design Week, a full Design Celebration that transforms Milano in the Design Capital of the World! This is the most important Design Weeks in the World and it’s, without the doubt, one of the biggest showcases of Italian Power in this industry. The entire city lights up with incredible Design Celebrations that mix National and Foreign Designers and Brands that are joined together in Milano to get inspired by the Italian Design Style!
No wonder the Italian Style is considered one of the Fathers of the Design World. The Milano Design Week gives a perfect extension to this title, because at any amazing Design District of the city, like Brera or Tortona, you can witness the perfect balance, innovation, creativity and strength of the Italian Design Culture! All the top designers that we’ve mentioned before, as well as design students, the major design brands in the world, the top foreign designers and many other creative minds from other art related industries all flock to Milano every year to be a part of this celebration and get inspiration from the values of Italian Design.
For a more Crafstmanship Approach then we highly recommend you also pay a visit to Homo Faber, a top Craftsmanship Event that’s held in Venice and that provides enlightenment of all the top Design Techniques and Styles use by the most amazing Italian Artisans in Italy! It’s a celebration of Knowledge, Art, Craftsmanship and Creative Values that you simply cannot miss if you’re mission is to get close to the Italian values!
Italy is home to some of the biggest Luxury Design Groups in the World and some of the most expensive and popular design brands on the planet! These brands are the direct result of everything that we’ve talked above. They are the end refined result of years of Italian Design Style and Progressive Refinement that was provoked by some of the biggest and most talented designers and creative minds of Italy!
The luxury basis of top brands like Fendi Casa, Roberto Cavalli Home, Missoni, Seletti, Kartell, Baxter, Bugatti Home, Armani Casa, Versace Home, Porada, Poltrona Frau, Cassina, Flexform, B&B Italia or Molteni can all be traced to the same origin: Italian Craftsmanship and Italian Classic Furniture Style.
Every single one of the brands mentioned above, as well as many others that focus on Italian Design, get their inspiration from the biggest Italian Craftsmanship Ideas, Art and Inspirations! They embody the Italian Design Style and the values of Italien Furniture that are based on Elegance, Luxury, Craftsmanship and Durability!
That’s why all the major Interior Designers of Itlay have collaborated, at one time or another, with these Top and Luxury Brands and that’s why the value of these two pillars of Italian Interior Design are linked and they will always be linked. We risk saying that if Gio Ponti and other Masters of Design didn’t inspire or collaborated with these brands, there wouldn’t be a Fendi Casa or a Poltrona Frau as we know them today!
If you’re paying attention, then you know that Italian Design is one of the main sources of inspiration for the world’s industry of Interior Design. It’s almost impossible to find a Top Brand or Designer that never showcased a project with Italien Influences. This proves the range and the power that the Italian Industry Design in the world!
Portugal isn’t an exception. Even though Portugal and Italy share many Craftsmanship Values, like the love for Woodworking or the passion for ancient techniques involving Glass or Jewellery, we can say for sure that many of today’s Portuguese top brands and designers get some inspiration form the Italian Designer, in fact many of the designers of the top Portuguese brands studied in Italy!
A stunning luxury brand that perfectly balances the Portuguese Design Values with the Italian Design Inspirations is Boca do Lobo. This stunning brand with a high focus on craftsmanship provides glorious pieces that combine craftsmanship techniques, values and inspirations with some luxury and opulent style. Their pieces are a full example of how Art, Design and Craftsmanship can work together to create stunning pieces. Do you want the perfect piece of Boca do Lobo that combines the best of Portugal and Italy? Then we highly recommend you take a look at the stunning Fortuna Dining Tale!
Other brands from other parts of the world also mimic the style of the Italians. Take for instance the incredible and late Zaha Hadid that clearly got some inspiration from the modern architectural lines created by Gio Ponti in Italy! Her design brand mimics the same style and we can perfectly envision any Zaha Hadid piece in a modern Italian villa!