Salone del mobile and Fuorisalone 2019

Retro delights by Cristina Celestino

Interview with the designer who offers us a trip on a 1928 tram and a collection for Fornace Brioni that can evoke an unforgettable past.

Cristina Celestino, Tram Corallo, Brera Design District, Fuorisalone 2018, Milan

Decoration is the key ingredient of her narration along with refined forms and a delicate, retro taste. The signature style of the designer from Pordenone, Cristina Celestino, is unmistakable for its unparalleled, sophisticated aesthetic qualities. She didn’t get to Milan or product design right away. After a degree in architecture, she trained in various studios in Venice and Florence where she was initially involved in building and city planning and then customised interior furniture design. It was the time spent in Milan and a parallel interest in collecting rare design pieces that would lead her to this cosmos.
Art Director of Fornace Brioni, founder of the brand Attico and this year ambassador of the Brera Design District; she boasts collaborations with well known international brands like: Fendi, Nilufar, Sergio Rossi, Tonelli Design, Torremato, BottegaNove.

In a Design Week studded with products and events, hers surely stand out for their originality, good taste and references to the past. Especially the Tram Corallo, a project the designer really felt the need to stage as a tribute to the city of Milan. A cable car from 1928 that will transit among the roads in Brera decorated with upholstery and mosaic tiles, a traveling cinema that mustn’t be missed. She will also present three claddings for Fornace Brioni inspired by Renaissance formal gardens.

How did the Tram Corallo come about?
The Tram Corallo is exactly what I felt I needed to stage at this moment in my career. A totally-mine project, a sort of pause to reflect, a gift I gave myself. The spirit of travelling, strictly speaking, in the mind and in dreams. A total, emotional project that pays tribute to my city of adoption and could be experienced and shared by everyone. The screening of a hidden Milan, always composed but astounding, veiled by day-to-day life and unveiled before our eyes, enjoyed like a wonderful film. I started thinking about the project in June last year, and then began finalising it this past autumn. I want to design an experience where the new furniture collection and interior design could fully take in the location.  

Inside and out, private and public, the foyer as intimacy, the tram and the city as the outside world. A fluid dialogue.

Rocaille, Ninfeo and Delizie: what do these three tiles in the new collection for Fornace Brioni have in common?
All three are part of the collection Giardino delle Delizie. These tiles share the same in-depth research of Renaissance formal gardens, especially the one at Palazzo Te in Mantua, a place of delight and pleasure built to entertain guests. Fountains, grottoes and small inventions were intended to amaze, surprise and delight. I started with this in mind in designing these three-dimensional tiles, poised between decoration and architecture, with a powerful visual impact.
Rocaille is a tile with concave shells, as if what we’re seeing on the wall were lost moulds of shells; Ninfeo is a reinterpretation of ashlar bricks: softer and more feminine with a texture of regular piercings; finally, Delizie plays with the word Delizie (delight) as an allusion to the theme of pleasure (for the eyes and palate) and refers to the three-dimensional isolated tiles we often find in early twentieth-century architecture.

What values do you share with Fornace Brioni and what motivated you to become their creative director?
Being a creative director is a global, intense endeavour that includes an almost daily exchange between architect and company where mutual trust and empathy are fundamental. I’ve been working with them since September 2016 and right from our first meeting I appreciated the motivations that led them to contact me. Among these, there was the desire to give a new vision to wall and floor coverings, in full respect of terracotta, which has a millenary tradition. The real challenge was to take the classical and familiar perception of the material and turn it into something contemporary through new production techniques.

Many of your designs evoke the charm of the past. Which periods or movements do you feel closest to?
I don’t prefer any period in particular, just architects and designers whose work I admire. In this sense, I think the Deco period in Italy is rich with beautiful things, just consider the furniture of Paolo Buffa or Borsani for the atelier in Varedo or even glass furnishings by Fontana Arte.

Tram Corallo
Cristina Celestino
District :
Brera Design District
piazza Castello 2 | via Cusani 4 | Cairoli M1
Opening dates:
17-18 April h. 3:00am - 7:00pm | 19-20 April h. 3:30pm - 6:30pm | 21-22 April h. 4:00pm - 8:00pm
Giardino delle Delizie
Cristina Celestino
Fornace Brioni

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