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Marni Chairs and L'arte del Ritratto

Colombian wicker furniture and staff portraits

by Paolo Ferrarini in Design on 19 April 2012

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Unveiled in a flurry of buzz at the 2012 Salone del Mobile, Marni has created a collection of 100 colorful wicker chairs made by ex-convicts in Colombia re-assimilating into social and professional life. The chairs are constructed from metal frames with multi-colored PVC threads woven around the seat backs and armrests. The style of seat is traditionally Colombian, updated with Marni's reinterpretation of the woven pattern to create totally new color variations in line with the Milanese fashion house. They've also added small tables to go alongside the chairs either indoors or out.

Along with the new line of furniture, Marni presents "L’arte del ritratto" (The Art of Portraiture), a project by photographer and filmmaker Francesco Jodice featuring portraits of the chairs with Marni employees, technicians, craftsmen and collaborators. During Salone we caught up with Carolina Castiglioni, daughter of Marni founder and designer Consuelo Castiglioni, and the house's director of special projects, to learn more about the project.

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How long has Marni been involved with other forms of design?

This is the third year we are presenting at Salone del Mobile, but each time we have come with a totally different project. For 2012, since we are a small family company, we loved the idea of portraying people as a family in one big picture in a charity context. The day of the shooting felt like a day off: we had fun. After each shot, Francesco Jodice asked us to freeze for one minute, during which he was filming, creating a living picture, which now is projected on the façade of the store.

Are you working on design projects for the future?

Not for now, but we have recently opened a store in the Meatpacking District in New York for the Marni Edition, a slightly less expensive line. This is a new design concept for us, since everything inside of the space is mobile and transformable, and it showcases work of artists we love.

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In the coming months, the exhibition of photographs and objects will be hosted in Marni boutiques worldwide, together with new portraits of members of the Marni team from around the world. The revenues from the sale of chairs will be donated to the ICAM Institute of Milan, a project whose aim is to help children of imprisoned women to grow up in a family environment.

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