The Salone del Mobile.Milano Shanghai provided an opportunity to take stock of the sector and its progress and generate opportunities for cultural debate, inspiration and training. The Master Classes, with their successful programme of meetings, discussion and reflection were led by three internationally acclaimed Italian architects – Rodolfo Dordoni, Patricia Urquiola, Ferruccio Laviani – in conversation with an equal number of gifted Chinese architects: Li Hu, Zhao Yang, Chen Fei Bo. The contemporary story of excellent Italian savoir faire was interwoven with the experience of the Chinese designers, who are making great strides in innovation and quality in order to come up with original products and new housing models for China over the coming years.
Wednesday, November 20
10.30am - 12.30pm
Opening this series of encounters, Rodolfo Dordoni belongs to that Milanese tradition that has spawned leading designers such as Castiglioni, Zanuso, Magistretti and De Lucchi. He has been responsible over the years for the art direction at leading furnishing and lighting sector companies, designs products for Made in Italy and foreign brands. His style is sophisticatedly minimalistic, joyous, a far cry from over-decorative yet never stark. His professional career has remained faithful to unique design built on comfort, good looks, proportions and elegance. His great strength is his attention to detail and his
extensive understanding of materials. In his intervention, The Relationship between Designer and Companies, Rodolfo Dordoni reflected on the complex yet synergic relationship between designers and companies as a crucial ingredient for the good outcome of a project. He discussed his 40-year career through a selection of his most significant projects, and explain the contribution designers make to companies, the importance of dialogue and how this gives shape and meaning to products.
He talked to Li Hu, founding partner of OPEN Architecture, Assistant Professor at Tsinghua University School of Architecture, former partner at Steven Holl Architects and director of Studio-X Beijing at Columbia University GSAPP in New York, one of the leading and most prestigious schools of architecture in the world. Li Hu curated the first China Design Exhibition, was a member of the jury for the designation of the Chinese pavilion at the Venice Biennale and sat on the jury of the International Velux Awards. He believes that every single project should be driven by a clear and powerful idea, and should transfer value, not just good looks. Innovation and technology are important, but it is the human touch and an almost spiritual input that derives from attention to detail, to texture and to materials, that forge his extremely personal signature.
Thursday, November 21
10.30am - 12.30pm
The second Master Class featured Patricia Urquiola. After graduating, she worked as an assistant to Castiglioni and to Eugenio Bettinelli at the Polytechnic and at the ENSCI in Paris, she enjoyed a lengthy collaboration with De Padova alongside Vico Magistretti, and co-ordinated the design group at Piero Lissoni’s studio, eventually setting up her own studio in 2001, where she works on product design, interior design and architecture. She has designed products for prominent Italian and international companies. She has won sought-after commissions and international awards, proving that talent and determination, exuberance and emotional connection can take you a very long way. Her work is a blend of tradition and contemporary, with an unerring eye to the future. She sees colour, materials and light as three interacting elements: what she considers in every single design is what will happen when they come together. Her intervention was entitled Empathic Travels, channelling the fact that empathy is the
compass that guides her professional career. Patricia Urquiola discussed projects and collaborations that defined her career, and the challenges she had to tackle. She told a series of professional and personal anecdotes about her creative approach to research, to materials, to innovation and to technology, and her many long-standing relationships with designers and brands.
She talked to Zhao Yang, founding architect of Zhaoyang Architects in 2007, who uses experimental projects to try and explore architectural solutions to emerging Chinese urban and rural demands. Zhao Yang’s work is rooted in a rich social, cultural and natural background, a tradition neglected by contemporary design and Chinese architecture for quite some time. Despite this, Zhao Yang’s work appears modern and abstract, reflecting a vision of today rather than being an imitation of past forms. It is informed by a concept owed to the past, genius loci, which brings shape, movement and rhythm to his architectural work. Yang Zhao endeavours to discover the raison d’etre of a place and to express it in a new form reflecting the times we live in. His is a courageous and visionary approach, because it responds both delicately and carefully to the particular situation architecture is experiencing, in a country undergoing rapid change.
Friday, November 22
10.30am - 12.30pm
The third Master Class was led by Ferruccio Laviani. An architect and designer, he worked at the De Lucchi Studio, becoming a partner, until 1991, the year in which he decided to open his own studio in Milan. He has been Art Director at Kartell for many years, as well as with other companies. He designs commercial spaces and installations as well as offices and residential accommodation, for private clients and furnishing and fashion brands. His career path has been marked by literary and musical culture and many brilliant professional cross-contaminations. He is a non-conformist designer, alert to passions and always generous with his designs. His style has continued to evolve, from 90s minimalism to the glamour of Tom Ford’s Gucci, Dolce e Gabbana’s Neo-Baroque and the return to Memphis and colour. His intervention was entitled Step by Step, and traced the high points of his 30-year career in the interior design, product design and installation sectors: his early entry onto the Milanese scene, then dominated by the Memphis Group, his years in Michele De Lucchi’s studio, the beginning of his collaboration with Kartell and Foscarini, meeting the great Achille Castiglioni and his experiences with many of the leading manufacturers on the Italian design scene and in France.
He talked to Chen Fei Bo, who set up the BOBCHEN design studio in 2004 and the Touch Feeling brand in 2010. He took part in the 2012 and 2015 Milan China Contemporary Design Exhibitions. In 2015, he was also listed by Forbes China as one of the 30 most promising designers. In 2016, he was shortlisted for the third place for China Design Person of the Year and the National New Trend of Chinese Interior Design. Chen was mentioned four times between 2013 and 2019 in AD magazine’s classification of the 100 most influential designers and architects. His work ranges from visual communication to products for designing spaces. His career has focused on consumer experience and he works largely in the residential and hospitality sector. After years of exploring design and art, he developed a new model for integrating traditional Chinese aesthetics and contemporary design language.
Date and hour
10:30 AM - 12:30 PM