The Spectre of Milan: Marco de Vincenzo


3 May 2016

For the 2016 iteration of Milan’s Salone del Mobile, Disegno created a large format newspaper that shares oral histories about Milan’s place in design lore. The Spectre of Milan was freely distributed across Milan throughout the Salone and features stories from industry figures such as Paola Antonelli, Sebastian Wrong, Jaime Hayon, Hella Jongerius, Jasper Morrison, Nathalie Du Pasquier, Oki Sato and Patricia Urquiola.

Ever since the Salone was launched in 1961, Milan has been a natural hub for design on an international scale. It is comfortably the world’s biggest furniture trade fair with around 300,000 visitors attending each year from more than 160 countries. And yet, over recent years, the supremacy of Milan’s Salone has been questioned. What place will the furniture fair forge for itself in an ever diversifying design industry?

Marco de Vincenzo grew up in Messina, Sicily, where he became interested in fashion design from an early age. At 18, he left Sicily for Rome’s Istituto Europeo di Design. After graduation, he began to work at Fendi where he developed a close relationship with Silvia Venturini Fendi, eventually becoming head designer of leather goods. In 2009, de Vincenzo presented a haute couture collection that caught the eye of Italian Vogue editor Franca Sozzani, who awarded him first place in the magazine’s competition for new designers. Since then, he has shown a series of ready-to-wear collections in Milan.

Most recently, de Vincenzo was invited to be the guest womenswear designer at Pitti Uomo in January. Rather than presenting a traditional collection, the designer used the funds to transform the Teatro Niccolini, a vaulted auditorium adjacent to Florence’s Duomo, and presented five cut-leather looks onstage and six laser-cut organza looks in the theatre’s stalls.

For a long time, I thought Milan was too cold. Having lived in Sicily and then Rome, Milan feels like a place you have to discover. It’s beautiful in a different way than those other places; it's more secret.

I'm like a stranger here. Before I moved here, I never listened to what people said about Milan, good or bad, because I didn’t want to have too many preconceptions. I was waiting for the moment when the city would feel like mine, but then I always wait for the right moment to do everything. I'm never under pressure to make something if I think the moment hasn't come. With Milan it was the same.

I’ve now found a space for my office in the city. I saw many places before choosing the current location in Luigi Moretti’s Corso Italia Complex from 1956. Many of those places were beautiful, but they somehow felt common, whereas the Corso Italia is like working in a glass room: it's all open. A few walls are just made of glass and the whole city is in front of you. You can really feel the city, which is a good way to get familiar with it. In Rome it's obvious that you should live in a place with a view, but I didn't associate Milan with a great skyline.

Light is the most exciting thing in the new office. There is light everywhere, which gives you the impression of the day as it passes. It’s given me a feeling of freedom: the feeling that I could live somewhere else after a long time of thinking Rome was perfect. When I used to be in Milan, my first thoughts were, “I want to go back to Rome to work or to find something inspiring.” But today I was working on some drawings in the new office for the first time, and I thought “Wow, it's the same as in Rome.” I believe in the power of the place around you and this morning I felt like I was in the right place. I felt happy.