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.

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