The Kabiljo Affair at the Fair

The vibe is bacchanalia but the scale is Hydra-like. It's called the "biggest, brashest, most hysterical event in the international design year." (Well, of course, if you put a bunch of designers in a room...) For those spying trends, Milan's Salone Del Mobile — or The Milan Furniture Fair in the English speaking world — is furniture's Area 51 (the secrets are in there). As to what those upcoming trends are, the mediaratti suggest we be on the look out for more "natural materials, especially marble," a pervasive "raw, rationalist style," and utilitarianism leaning toward minimalism. Also, it may be the year of the pouf. Now you know.


Also pretty much sums up Sean's work for the last 10 years. Below, Milan under the big top. 


Always up for a bacchanal, Sean and Team Knibb's design crew headed to Milan in May to join in the hysteria. When it was over, there were many memories and several highlights. Two of the most memorable: The Rossana Orlandi—AKA Italy's fairy godmother of designsoirée at the Museo BagattiValsecchi, and a visit and spontaneous collaboration with Croatian-born, Vienna-based designerDejana Kabiljo.


Although Dejana Kabiljo's work may qualify as functional design, it comes as loaded with pretext, subtext, and context as you'd expect from the best of high art. Her education was classical—architecture and post-graduate design—yet her approach is congenially iconoclastic. With an objective of doing "something not covered by industry," her work stands in defiance of mass production. This may explain the intimacy and intensity of her handcrafted and meticulously processed pieces. To Kabiljo, the problem with industrialization is that it doesn't properly serve the individual's "little fetishes, bad habits, and compulsive actions": In other words, she wants to create "simple things" to serve the complexness of our humanity. Something, she believes, that can only be achieved with hand craft.

To wit: The Fe/Au (above left in gold), and Occupy chairs (with red seat cushion at above right). The Fe/Au Chair (gold/iron) features 24K gold plating on "upcycled" Yugoslavian army spring mattresses. The chair's ingenious construction includes separate sections knitted together with coiled wire. The plating process used on the chair is so specialized that only one craftsmen and one shop in all of Europe can do it. (She found him in Belgrade.) The aspect of golden soldiers' mattresses reconfigured as a Chesterfield style armchair, like so many chairs set before televisions in living rooms the world over, is conceptually rich enough, but the gold itself tells yet another story. Kabiljo is fascinated with the story of how gold comes to be: As all matter in the universe begins in the crucible bellies of stars (with the exception of H and He), the creation of gold requires even more exceptional circumstances. Not only does it take a supernova—the explosive death of a massive star—to exist, but gold demands a star of particularly immense magnitude and density. The drama behind gold's glitter is one of birth and death repeated over untold eonic generations.

During his visit, Sean made arrangements with Kabiljo to import her Fe/Au chairs stateside. Therefore, we are pleased to announce that our Venice showroom at 1522 Abbot Kinney will soon be the exclusive dealer of the Fe/Au Chair in the New World. (And as for the Old World, they can only be found in London.)

As a designer, Kabiljo has built an international reputation with personal exhibitions all over the world. (Google her and find discussions of her work in abundance.) Her furniture pieces marry extraordinary materials and traditional forms into exotic new imaginings . It's work that radiates an intense and intimate emotional power while balancing it with an approachable whimsy. Another example of how these forces come together can be seen in her hair-covered chairs and stool/pouf below.