Women in Design
ROSSANA ORLANDI Founder of Rossana Orlandi Gallery (pictured: Celestial Flame chandelier by Moritz Waldemeyer)
With backgrounds as varied as their work and their recent involvement in this year’s Milan Design Week, these are four female names in international design you need to know
Why did you decide to become a gallerist? I spent years working in fashion before getting into design – my family owned a spinning company which, at the time, was run by my two older brothers. It wasn’t easy being part of the family business and after many long years, when my enthusiasm for fashion had seriously started to wane, I stumbled across a former tie factory in the historic centre of Milan. It was oozing charm and I just knew that its old walls had many a story to tell. The initial idea was to turn it into our family home, but after realising that my children were starting to make their own way in the world, I decided to throw all my energy into my passion for design. I spent two years browsing around and started filling the space with objects I loved, positioning them in relation to one another and creating a dialogue between them, always allowing myself the freedom of choice. That was how I first got into design: starting with a space whose history really excited me, and then falling in love with each of the objects that gradually filled the space.
What did you present at this year’s Milan Design Week? We were involved in numerous collaborations, but one project I’m really proud of is the in-gallery restaurant we opened, Aimo e Nadia BistRo. With chefs Fabio Pisani and Alessandro Negrini at the helm, there’s a synergy that gives me a real buzz. Along with Jacopo Etro and Valeria Lepore of Etro Home, who were in charge of designing the interiors, we managed to create an extremely warm and welcoming feel.
What do you think makes Milan Design Week so special? Firstly, it has an outstanding history of design projects and secondly, it’s now the place where companies choose to present their latest designs. On top of that, the city’s currently being thrust back onto the international stage. It’s now the second-most popular tourist destination in Italy, simply because it has so much to offer. I don’t leave my gallery while the show’s on. I have the other 11 months of the year to discover new talents, and I love spending that week simply soaking up the amazing vibe.
What’s the role of women in design today? I work with female designers from all over the world – the Emirates, Lebanon, America, Europe, Japan and even Korea. There are huge numbers of female designers today, just as there’ve always been, and some of them work for companies that generate massive turnovers. I believe female designers shouldn’t hold back – they should throw themselves into their work with tremendous determination. If women think that they’re impeded by their gender, that’s their problem. Today’s women must show determination, courage, self-assurance and self-esteem, just as I did.