Text: Viveka van de Vliet
Photography: Boudewijn Bollmann
Over the past ten years, the Milan’s charm has remained intact: you become enchanted by its crazy diversity of design. Impressive experiences with light projections that have been produced with a large budget are presented next to small design studios with hardly any budget showing a series of refined products. ‘They reinforce each other, surprise and inspire. It makes Milan one of the best fairs I know’, says Mireille Meijs, designer at tile manufacturer Mosa.
In the past, the emphasis had been more on the products themselves but, ten years ago, the experience became more important at the Salone del Mobile. That was when Mosa exhibited at Superstudio on Via Tortona, where they presented a spectacular installation of huge hanging tiles of about 60 X 120 centimetres that seemed to float in space.
‘Milan Design Week has grown, but it remains the most creative of all trade fairs’, says Mireille. Not only does she present here with Mosa, she also goes to be inspired as a designer. ‘It’s where you see all the new concepts and what lies ahead for furniture and products’, she says. ‘I’m not just talking about realised products or next year’s trend colour, but about new ways of thinking, such as the use of new raw materials for products, including algae and seaweed, and the increasing emphasis on the reuse of materials’.
Mosa is at the forefront: since 2008, it has been the world’s only cradle-to-cradle tile manufacturer and that is something it wants to show the audience in Milan. The company presents new collections with an increasing focus on experience, as can be seen in more presentations in the design city.
When Mosa presented in Zona Tortona ten years ago, it was an emerging area. In 2014, Mosa moved to Lambrate, because the tile producer felt that Zona Tortona was too big and too hectic. ‘It has become an area where more and more major companies with large budgets are trying to outdo each other’, she says.
Mosa is a small player in the market and feels at home in a diverse area where it can exhibit next to creative designers and design studios, and where you see presentations of both conceptual ideas and companies with concrete products. ‘We reinforce each other, which is more valuable than presenting between hundreds of other tile manufacturers at a tile fair’, she says.
Mosa did not present in Milan for four years, from 2015 till 2018, because the company changed its strategy. It was focussing on digital marketing, but soon Mosa reversed its position. ‘We now know that it‘s still the best to show in Milan. It’s good for publicity, attention, and it’s inspirational – that’s important for a designer’, she says. ‘Despite the fact that digital media have become more important in the past ten years, they don’t appear to be a replacement. Architects want to see, feel, and experience things. Mosa organises trips for international architects to the Milan Design Week, because of that live experience, but also because a large section of the world is unfamiliar with the tile manufacturer, despite the fact that many architects work with Mosa products.
This year, Mosa is presenting at Masterly, the Dutch pavilion, with an interactive installation created with contemporary ceramic floor tiles. ‘We want to emphasise our Dutch heritage and our Maastricht roots’, Mireille explains.
‘The extraordinary thing about Milan in the last decade is that you try to discover a connecting theme, but you can’t find it. Suddenly, there is a new area where many designers and brands present together and form a new creative hotspot. The next moment, you are amazed by a Memphis Revival, or by larger innovations in the field of, for example, social design and sustainability. It’s still a fair that continues to surprise me, every minute of the day’.