ELENA SALMISTRARO ― TRANSCRIPT
Think about the houses of our grandmothers where there were these symbolic objects to keep you company, and this is the part that I prefer about design that it makes people feel good. Looking at those objects at home you feel at ease, you feel like they were keeping you company really and it's the emotional part that I prefer.
I'm Elena Salmistraro and I'm a product designer from Milan. The place where I belong is very important, it is linked to the point of view of my way of designing, which is influenced by different disciplines like fashion, design, art which are also the symbols of my city.
This year I was nominated Brera Design District ambassador. It was an honour for me, it was very important because first of all during the Fuorisalone, Brera is the most lively and communicative part of the city. The Brera district is a historical district of Milan for me very representative of the city, because it represents the thousand faces of Milan,
Tall those alleys, it looks like a grey city, but actually still hides many colours and it’s very lively there is a lot of ferment in the city. It’s a city where you can live very well, in my opinion, and for us designers it is a very important place, it is a really important place.
Another project that I presented this year at the Salone del Mobile is named Most Illustrious. They are tributes to these designers who have given me so much even unknowingly. The first one was Alessandro Mendini I showed him the drawing and he enthusiastically joined the project. I was very happy about this, because Mendini is exactly as I imagined him, a very proactive and energetic person and he was the one giving me the initial push.
So we have Achille Castiglioni, Michele De Lucchi, Riccardo Dalisi, Alessandro Mendini who are the first pieces of this collection which we may expand one day. But they were the first because they feel closer to me, they taught me about irony and this approach to design that is a little more artistic. So I just wanted to start from these four characters who have been very important to me.
For the realization of these objects I tried to extrapolate the personalities of these design icons, and to represent them as these small totems created out of their objects.
For example for Alessandro Mendini I had fun stacking objects, creating his body formed by the pointillism effect of the Proust armchair, the posture of the Sandro Emme corkscrew for Alessi, and his ears with the earrings of the famous Venini vase.
Michele De Lucchi, who I think you can recognize by his beard, is made of the Pulcina coffee maker and his Bison stool but with textures that represent the Kristall End Table. I decorated it with the textures that he used for its objects, and also in his case his unmistakable glasses.
An important thing to say is that each statue has a different height, for example Michele De Lucchi is very tall and therefore is about 40 cm tall and everyone has their own height because I really want to represent them as they truly are.
In 2014 I took part in this project called Ambrosiana with two other women designers, Cristina Celestino and Serena Confalonieri. We decided not to work on this project together - instead each of us designed our pieces separately so that we were not affected by each other’s process.
The purpose was to provide our viewpoint of our city, the city of Milan. I'm truly Milanese and there are only a few of us, but my family has been here for generations. It was strange at the beginning because it wasn’t easy to find symbols of the city to draw.
The inspiration came at a later time walking through a park and observing these objects called "vedovelle" which are the typical cast iron public fountains you can find in city parks in Milan. It was strange because I have always had them in plain sight, maybe it was too easy, it was so simple that I couldn’t even see them. When I actually saw them I thought they could be a perfect symbol to represent my city, which was the purpose and the topic of this collective exhibition.
For the vedovelle I was inspired by the shape of the fountain, simplifying it while keeping the same function that is to distribute water. So the handle looks just like the water spout.
The vedovelle are named this way because as the water flows continuously, it looks like a widow's inconsolable crying, and this is the meaning of the fountain’s name. So I brought the fountains of Milan back into our houses, onto our tables, and this was the first project.
For me design is not just about technique and function, for me design is a dream. It’s enjoyable and gives me the freedom to express myself so I can’t give a true definition of design because for me design is just life, without it I would not even get up in the morning, I would not exist. I'm very intrigued by a specific side of it - you also have to make people happy, design for me is this.