Milan 2020

Memories of Milan: Marco de Vincenzo


21 April 2020

This week should have marked the beginning of the 2020 Salone del Mobile in Milan. Instead, the spread of coronavirus has seen the event cancelled until 2021.

The Salone is the heart of the annual design calendar and its cancellation represents a heavy blow to the industry. While the event’s organisers were left with little choice but to act – as it stands, Italy has close to 180,000 confirmed cases of coronavirus and has suffered near to 24,000 deaths – the Salone’s cancellation is nevertheless a poignant reminder of the devastating effect of Covid-19 on design and all industries.

In 2016, Disegno created a special publication titled The Spectre of Milan: a large-format newspaper that shared a series of anecdotes from designers and curators about the history of Salone and Milan, and their place in design’s firmament.

At the time, the project was presented as a provocation. The Salone launched in 1961 and assumed a dominant position amongst design trade fairs from the beginning – attracting around 300,000 visitors every year from more than 160 countries. Yet as design had diversified in recent years, questions about the ongoing relevance of the furniture fair had arisen. The Spectre of Milan was an attempt to tease out the event’s significance to many in the industry.

In light of the pandemic, however, the stories shared as part of The Spectre of Milan have taken on a fresh significance. In the wake of Covid-19, they have become touching love letters to an event and city that are currently in a state of crisis.

As such, throughout this week Disegno will be republishing a selection of the Spectre of Milan stories in support of Salone and in acknowledgment of the event’s legacy. At a time when many in the design industry are struggling to recalibrate, the stories serve as a fond reminder of past years, as well as a promise of better times to return again.

Today's first story comes from fashion designer Marco de Vincenzo.

Marco de Vincenzo

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.