To meet Rosita Missoni in Cairo due to fortuitous chance is a case of serendipity. To meet her a second time in Milan during the busiest time of year in her own showroom is both a treat and an eye-opener into the world of Missoni.
We met last June during the opening of the Art of Form flagship store at Designolopis. She urged me to visit Milan during the annual furniture fair to see how the city becomes wholly consumed by everything design oriented. She shared beautiful photos off a personal camera, and true to her word, I found the city to be an implosion of vibrant colors and design novelty.
And modestly enough, she failed to mention that the Missoni collections are most often the talk of town.
Catching up together in the new Missoni Home showroom we talk about Egyptian culture and jewelry — both of which she finds enthralling—, colors and personalizing one’s space.
“This is a very special country because you grow up thinking in the middle of beautiful spaces where art and craft is everywhere…it was a country where the people were art collectors, but [also] art producers, artists. And of course in the regions craftsmanship was everywhere, with weaving skills like Como, where we are from.”
Rosita Missoni’s family background was of artisans and producers of many things including fine silk fringes, whose legacy can be still seen in the Missoni Home lighting lines. Interestingly, her brother Alberto Jelmini had once mentioned that the biggest buyer of their earlier silk fringes was a man in Alexandria in the 1920s.
At their other showroom used for the Missoni fashion shows and cocktail parties and presentations in the trendy district of Brera, the new collections of Missoni Home chinaware were exhibited. A collaboration of design and production between Missoni Home and the established Florentine chinaware producer Richard Ginori, tables were whimsically set with the variously patterned ranges of china. Teacups and coffee pots were clustered and stacked high one on top of the other in the style of a mad hatter’s tea party.
The Aladdin range of a dark yellow, orange and blue floral print plays with rich tones against a background of white. The Tropical range uses unconventionally tropical colors such as grays and beiges against reds and greens whereas Patchwork Bianconero is a range of black and white stripes. Circular lighting units with long silk fringes were suspended above, and a heartening mood and spirit so typical of Missoni was set due to the visual whimsy and clash of uplifting colors and patterns.
But that is the essence of Missoni be it teacups, swimsuits, carpets or dresses: color and the juxtaposition of colors against prints, a Missonism if I may.
“To me,” says Missoni, “the Home range is not just a license but the Missoni style for the home, which has its roots in the Missoni tradition. I’m still exactly the same Rosita who has simply shifted her love of fashion to focus on design and wants to imbue the home with the same values.
Now, more than ever, I cherish the emotions that spring from unspoilt surroundings. Spontaneity and nature give me great inspiration and should be protected. The use of natural materials for even the most sophisticated weaves intrigues me. My ‘Home’ is dominated by the most basic fiber, cotton. Linen, too, is a constant presence.”
This year, her designs for the Missoni Home range include floral patterns and her blooms are luscious in bright magentas, purples and fuchsias. Interestingly, a pattern based on the pixel is paired with the florals rendering a most common and banal square a lively spirit.
“It’s tied to technology more than art and tradition. But you can read in pixels whatever pattern you want, and it’s an explosion of colors and things. And it all started a year ago when we did our Salone del Mobile in our showroom on Via Solferino.
“We covered the floor with a big patchwork of solid colored felt and all of us were so much in love with the result we started playing with it. Making it small, it became the pixels, big it was what was it was, and of course any kind of pattern you can read it through this kind of modern glitter; but with the color is very important.”
Her Scozzese range includes tartan prints with tweeds in more sober colors of autumnal oranges and woodland greens; and couches have been displayed with a collection of small pillows that include black patent leather ones. The pairing is interestingly alarming with a touch of humor.
“It’s the general situation that needs a dose of optimism, let’s see it in the future more than in the present because of course color is a way of bringing some joyful message to people.”
Her new ranges for bath and bedroom are divided into categories of color: blue, red and green. But the originality is in the atypical shades she chooses to work with: sea green blue, a matte red, and mint green. She has also relied more on iconic Missoni prints of chevrons, waves and stripes; yet, she weaves the new flower prints into the bath and bedroom range too, simply in smaller doses. Colors are softer to go with the mood of relaxation, and patterns not as visually intense.
She promises to visit Egypt again soon, pleased to hear that Missoni Home has found a strong following in Egypt. And as I step out of the showroom I notice a towering 8 foot urn covered in mosaic tile at the entrance and wonder, when she told me she had marveled last June at the size of urns in the Egyptian Museum, could it have perhaps inspired her to add a touch of Missoni to it?
This Boquet Missoni couch with flower side tables is a center piece in the showroom. (Photo courtesy of Missoni Home)
Richard Ginori for Missoni Home, Bianconero range. (Daily News Egypt Photo by Heba Elkayal)