Marvelous Marva

The impresario of one of design’s great showcases for young talent reflects on its tenth anniversary.

This April marks the tenth year of Salone Satellite, an event that occurs in conjunction with Salone Internazi­onale del Mobile in Milan. A brainchild of impresario Marva Griffin-Wilshire, the exhibition has become one of the most important platforms for young designers eager to showcase prototypes and connect with manufacturers. It developed out of a conversation in the mid-1990s between Griffin-Wilshire and the furniture fair’s managing director, Manlio Armellini. “Young designers kept saying that they wanted to be in the furniture fair, but there were strict rules about participating and no space at the time,” she says. “When the fair expanded and a pavilion opened up for cultural events, Armellini called me up again and said, ‘See what you can do with the young designers.’”

For the first Salone Satellite, Griffin-Wilshire organized a jury to select the designers and invited emerging collectives such as Droog and the now defunct Snowcrash. “The first year, I had fifty-five booths and there were something like 110 designers,” Griffin-Wilshire says. This year’s show will include 570 booths and projects from 24 design schools, displayed in a 16,000-square-foot space created by the architect Ricardo Bello Dias inside the new Rho-Pero exhibition center, designed by Massimiliano Fuksas, where the fair moved in 2005.

Prior to this year’s event, Metropolis asked Griffin-Wilshire to select some of her top picks from previous shows. After first insisting that “all the designers who have passed through Salone Satellite over the years are my favorites,” she chose 16 greatest hits and picked a promising crop of newcomers for 2007.

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