Milan is one of the most famous and visited cities in Italy, not only for its architecture, food, and culture but also because of its reputation as one of the…
In this 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!
From the ultra famous Dimore Studio or Antonio Citterio to more local but incredible Interior and Product Designers and Italian Interior Designers 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.
Legends of Italian Design
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 with a unique design 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 and contemporary design of the Italian Modernity movement that started in the 1960s. 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!
Alessandro Mendini 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 Milan, 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!
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!
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, some of the Best Interior Designers and Amazing Creators, and that’s why this is one of the Top Design Markets in the World.
Top Italian Interior Designers of Today
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 Milan 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!
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 Milan that’s quickly becoming an International Trend Setter. Head Italian Interior 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 interior design projects in Italy.
We couldn’t pass the opportunity of mentioning another great name of Italian Design, but as 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.
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 interior design 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.
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.
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!
Major Design Events That Are International Vehicles of Italian Design
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 Milan 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 Milan 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.
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!
Luxury Brands that Are Vehicles for the Italian Style and Italian Designers
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 Italian Furniture that are based on Elegance, Luxury, Craftsmanship, and Durability!
The Italian Influence in Europe
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!
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 Italian Influences. This proves the range and the power that the Italian Industry Design in the world!
Boca do Lobo at Salone del Mobile 2018
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 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? Take a look to these amazing furniture pieces and choose your favorite!