Missoni Flagship store in Milan by Patricia Urquiola
Ever since Spanish designer Patricia Urquiola arrived in Milan 23 years ago to study with the legendary Achille Castiglioni, she has shown a strong predilection for collaboration. The Interior Design Hall of Fame memberâ€™s nascent career took off thanks to her early partnership with Vico Magistretti at De Padova, and later with Piero Lissoniâ€”another Interior Design Hall of Famerâ€”at Lissoni Associati, where she led the design studio.
Since founding her namesake studio in 2001, Urquiola has achieved design preeminence through her singular furniture pieces for B&B Italia, Kartell, Flos, Driade, and Moroso, while also producing striking interiors, installations, and stage designs. But throughout her career, she has never lost her collaborative bent, teaming up from time to time with such design luminaries as Sung Sook Kim and Eliana Gerotto to create products. So itâ€™s natural that when Urquiola recently undertook the renovation of the 3,100-square-foot Missoni flagship store in Milan, she joined forces with Angela Missoni, the creative director of the luxury-knitwear company and daughter of its founders, to develop a bold and innovative interior concept.
There was good reason to think the two women would have excellent creative synergy. Urquiola was more than familiar with the brandâ€™s trademark multicolor knits. She made memorable use of the signature patterned fabrics in â€œBig Bags,â€ an inventive installation for Milanâ€™s Salone Internazionale del Mobile in 2012. And not only does Urquiolaâ€™s wardrobe include the labelâ€™s unmistakable clothingâ€”her first purchase, a purple Lurex scarf with long suede fringes, came from Angela Missoniâ€™s first collection in the 1990â€™sâ€”but the fashion designer owns two of Urquiolaâ€™s Tropicalia couches made of thermoplastic polymer threads in playful combinations of red, turquoise, and fuchsia.
Given the colorful menâ€™s, womenâ€™s, and childrenâ€™s clothing and accessories the boutique would display, Urquiola and Angela Missoni could well have decided to make the interior a cool, neutral backdrop against which the hot, vivid merchandise would pop. â€œThat would have been the easy way,â€ Urquiola says. â€œBut it would have been the wrong way.â€ The right way, the two concurred, was to create a space that replicates classic Missoni zigzag, striped, and patchwork patterns on its walls, floors, ceilings, and fittings. â€œThe Missoni â€˜languageâ€™ is eclectic and versatile enough to be translated in this manner,â€ Missoni says. â€œItâ€™s a matter of giving form to one of its many possibilities.â€
Urquiola seized on the chance to exploit â€œour capacity to produce textures and weavings in stained wood, pink perforated anodized aluminum, and other overlapping and enlaced materials,â€ she continues. The result is a sophisticated collage of colors, textures, materials, and volumes that achieves the desired effect, which the duo dubbed â€œzigzagging.â€ It begins at the windows, where vertically folding perforated aluminum panels not only conjure the zigzag pattern in three dimensions but also become as diaphanous as fine knitwear when backlit by daylight. Beige wool rugs may be monotone, but they feature a raised-pile pattern that echoes the oak parquet underneath and appears on walls as either sheets of cell-cast acrylic, oak paneling, or oak latticework.
Other vertical surfaces provide expanses of color. Entry to the store is through a box of yellow glass, and columns and partitions are faced in brilliant red, pale blue, or soft gray back-painted glass. For accessories, lacquered-wood displaysâ€”glass-topped tables, stacked cubes, illuminated cases clustered on columnsâ€”offer additional color bursts. Clothing hangs on simple rods of copper-tinted steel; the same metal is used for a large dome pendant and myriad spotlights.
In spite of all the pattern, texture, and color, the ensemble coheres, providing a lively environment in which the merchandise remains the main event. Urquiola is particularly masterful in her handling of the contrast between glossy and matte surfaces, using it to draw the customerâ€™s eye to the clothing and accessories without any exaggerated emphasis. The designer credits Missoni with identifying this quality as an essential part of the brandâ€™s DNAâ€”instantly recognizable fashion that manages to be attention-getting while remaining completely integrated into a world of luxury style and taste. Itâ€™s a tension that the new store embodies.
â€œThe moment you find your comfort zone, that area of stability, then you must go beyond it,â€ Urquiola says. â€œWhat were once your boundaries become the new terrain for you to work with. Thatâ€™s where you begin to explore.â€ Itâ€™s no surprise then that the zigzagging concept will soon appear in Missoni boutiques as far afield as New Delhi; Riyadh, Saudi Arabia; and Doha, Qatar.
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