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IMG_1890Gio Ponti’s Pirelli Tower

IMG_1897‘Skid’ side table and bench by Sebastian Herkner at Wallpaper magazine’s Handmade exhibition

IMG_1908The Leclettico gallery, venue for Wallpaper magazine’s Handmade exhibition

IMG_1914‘Passage of Wood’ by architects In Praise of Shadows, at Wallpaper magazine’s Handmade exhibition

IMG_1927Furniture by artist Sarah Lucas

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‘Endless Stair’ by dRMM Architects

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‘Nutrire la Terra’ by Archea

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‘Roly Poly’ daybed and ‘Play’ tapestry, both by Faye Toogood

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‘Marmoreal’ engineered marble by Dzek and Max Lamb

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Rear elevation of Chiesa di San Francesco, designed by Gio Ponti

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Front elevation of Chiesa di San Francesco, designed by Gio Ponti

As the design industry descended on Milan last week for the annual furniture fair, The Modern House went along for a look, armed with an iPhone and an open mind.

Our first sight on leaving Central Station was the wonderfully slimline Pirelli Tower (1956), designed by Gio Ponti and Pier Luigi Nervi, glinting like a razorblade in the April sunshine. Later in the week, we tracked down a very different Gio Ponti building, the Chiesa di San Francesco (1964). The front elevation is a wonderful fortress-like structure with geometric perforations, draped across the building like a mask and vastly exaggerating its scale.

Architecture of a more contemporary kind was on show at the University of Milan. ‘Endless Stair’ by dRMM Architects is a timber folly with interlocking staircases that might have been conceived by M. C. Escher. On the same site, Archea devised a forest of stylised conical trees, and Atelier Bow-Wow produced a tunnel of fragmented mirrors.

The most inspiring venues we visited were the Leclettico gallery, which was home to Wallpaper magazine’s Handmade exhibition, and the irrepressible Rossana Orlandi’s gallery, with its romantic vine-covered courtyard. Hermès made a modern insertion into a grand old palazzo, with an exhibition of campaign furniture, wallpapers and furnishing fabrics.

The serene Project B Gallery was home to an installation by Max Lamb and Dzek, who were showcasing their new nougat-like engineered marble. In the adjacent room, Faye Toogood launched her latest furniture range, ‘Roly Poly’, with chairs, a dining table and a daybed in beautiful raw fibreglass.

Elsewhere, the artist Sarah Lucas made her first foray into furniture, presenting rigorous pieces made from breeze blocks and MDF.

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