Probing, smelling, tasting and drinking before the Salone erupts!
ONE WEEK ABOUT Dutch Designers in Milan by Connecting the Dots
One of the most friendly restaurants that we visit every year is the Sardinian trattoria Da Armando e Christian, close to Porta Genova train station. ‘We’ are the exhibitors of Design Language curated by David Heldt, Cara Judd and Davide Gramatica, his Milanese partners. ‘We’ are also DJ Luc Deleau and Marije and the undersigned with girlfriend Lydia, who will take care of the bar at the Opening Party of Mixing the Dots.
The packed restaurant groans and moans under the load of all the local Milanesi and hip design people who have trooped in on this Saturday evening. The kitchen creaks, hisses and steams. Pans roast and trays bake. The kitchen tiles know and especially fear the group of about 30 men and women from the Netherlands, Japan, Sweden, USA and Italy. Insanely, everyone at the table can order à la carte. The sweating owner personally takes the orders, wearing black plastic gloves and bright orange sneakers. Risotto a la Milanese, Spada del Griglia and Naturalmente Tiramisu.
I am surrounded by Japanese whose names I don’t know or can’t remember. Fortunately I already know Maarten Olden and Geke Lensink.
The Italians eat civilized and properly in courses. The Dutch are more coarse and greedy. The Japanese immediately throw themselves onto the large bowls without scooping up and have already ingested several limoncellos before any food has been served; the risotto is shoved in as if it were sushi rice, but their delight is infectuous!
The restaurant is a metaphor for cosmopolitan hurried and crazy Milan, especially during this week. In Milan, designers think – and should think! – that they are the shining center of attention. But at the table, we also discuss strategy, complain and brag about our Airbnb, look forward to the coming week. In spite of the Babylonian confusion of languages: Italians who do not speak English, Japanese who are especially expert in Japanese and Dutch who think they are polyglots but in reality only understand 20% of what is being said. Visiting cards are exchanged self-consciously and masses of selfies are taken. A Japanese from Kyoto turns out to know a namesake of mine in Uitgeest…
At the end of this week, Design Language will have become a group. Seated at the large U-shaped table at Armando and Christian’s the first step was taken. Food and drink fraternize. We strike up the drinking song ‘Bibiamo’ from La Traviato by Giuseppe Verde…
Let the games begin!
Text: Martin Mansoor
Milan, Sunday, April 7, 2019