The Design Companies Conquering New Ground

Three businesses — two established, one emerging — move in new directions.

Giulio Cappellini and Antonio Facco in the brand’s Milan showroom, which features an installation by the young designer.CreditBea De Giacomo


In 2013, Antonio Facco, a young graduate student studying design in Milan, had just presented his final project before a jury of professionals. One of them, the architect and furniture designer Giulio Cappellini, approached him. ‘‘We were waiting outside, and a door opened, and Giulio came out,’’ Facco recalled. ‘‘I saw that he was walking toward me, and in the moment I thought, ‘maybe he needs a lighter for a cigarette.’ ’’ Facco readied one. But Cappellini wasn’t looking for fire; he was looking for Facco, to whom he offered a job on the spot. And thus began a new collaboration, the latest in a long line for Cappellini, who has supported young talent since he joined his family’s forward-thinking Milan-based brand in 1979. Though Facco, who is now 25, started his own studio soon after graduating, he happily agreed to work with Cappellini, designing several of the brand’s most exciting pieces over the past few years, including a deceptively simple modular wooden coffee table, which cleverly contains four retractable cushioned seats.

From top: a wood table with retractable chairs, designed by Facco for Cappellini; their stained-glass Luce tables.CreditCourtesy of Cappellini

The culmination of their relationship, though, may have come this past spring, with their codesigned Luce tables: small cubes made from glass panels in a rainbow of hues, whose color changes depending on the angle at which they are viewed. Facco also conceptualized the installation showcasing Luce and other Cappellini creations at Milan’s Salone del Mobile last May: Influenced by the architecture and palette of Luis Barragán and the paintings of Giorgio de Chirico, Carlo Carrà and Henri Rousseau, it was a delightfully disorienting display. Pastel walls and murals populated with animals and Memphis-esque geometry set a striking backdrop for the company’s new objects and furniture. They were so popular, in fact, that Cappellini will release a line of wallpaper and textiles based on the installation. Cappellini himself was tickled by the response, but also unsurprised. ‘‘On the one hand you need to show new products,’’ he says. ‘‘On the other hand you need to make people dream.’’

Kenzo Takada in his Paris apartment.

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