A Conversation with Design Master Giulio Cappellini

Giulio Cappellini at his Milan Showroom

Giulio Cappellini at his Milan Showroom

Even if you’ve never heard of Giulio Cappellini, or the eponymous design studio he’s run for three decades, chances are you’ve seen some of the furniture maker’s quizzically shaped, brightly hued tables, couches and cabinetry.

If not in top style mags like Elle Decor, Dwell and Architectural Digest, then on display at prestigious museums like the V&A in London, the Museum of Decorative Arts in Paris and New York’s MoMA.

Part of what has made the 59-year-old so successful is a singular ability for discovering, developing and collaborating with untapped talent: much lauded stars like Marcel Wanders, Jasper Morrison and Tom Dixon all got their first big breaks by working with the Milanese master.

When Cappellini was in Toronto recently to give a lecture at the Design Exchange, we caught up with him to talk about his sense of colour, humour and how he finds his bright young things.

You’ve got a knack for spotting fresh talent. How do you do it?

I travel a lot. I visit universities and schools. I meet a lot of people. Sometimes I just see a rough prototype or a sketch. Or sometimes I meet someone and I just think that this person can work well with Cappellini. The feeling I get for the person is very important, because sometimes it takes years between the first prototype and the final design. And I never just want to make one piece with a designer. So we need to build a strong relationship.

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New York To-Do List

Over the Victoria Day long weekend, my boyfriend and I are driving down to New York City. We’ve gone every year for the last four, and each time we visit we discover new reasons to love the city. In 2011, for example, we rented road bikes and toured around Manhattan, then crossed over the Brooklyn Bridge, checked out Prospect Park and went down to Coney Island. It took us a whole day and we were exhausted by the time we hit the Atlantic, but it was great. We were both impressed by the miles of dedicated bike lanes that made cycling feel so much safer than in our home town of Toronto.

We might bike around again, but I think this trip is going to be more arts and culture focused. Here’s what we’re thinking of seeing.

Milstein Hall at Cornell University

Milstein Hall by OMA

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Making Fantasies Come True on HBO’s Girls

Lena Dunham plays Hannah on HBO’s Girls

On the fifth episode of Lena Dunham’s Girls (Hard Being Easy) everyone got what they wanted (well, except for Shoshanna – she’s still a virgin). Here’s what I mean:

Hannah got some material for her memoir

True, her rumply, roly-poly boss shot her down, depriving her of a good workplace sexual harassment story. But at least Adam Sackler (who, by the way, almost looks not gross wearing safety glasses) sexploited her in a new and humiliating way — dumping her than asking her to watch him jerk off. In the memoir, I’m assuming this episode will come before the chapters where Hannah checks herself into cupcake rehab then becomes a lesbian.

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Hipster How-To: Getting the Look of HBO’s Girls

In the first episode of HBO’s much-hyped new dramedy, Girls, the central character, Hannah Horvath, quips “it costs a lot of money to look this cheap.” The line is borrowed from Dolly Parton, but instead of too much makeup and rhinestone-studded clothing, Horvath (played by the show’s creator Lena Dunham) and her friends wear disheveled vintage rags (from the best stores) and carefully blend a Hippie nomad/world-weary artist/spoiled preppy aesthetic (think drape-y blouses, fedoras and broad-shouldered overcoats). They live in bourgeois-bohemian squalor in the hipster-packed neighbourhood of Greenpoint, Brooklyn. Horvath shares an apartment with her roomate Marnie Michaels, and their place suits their clothes: slightly rusty chairs around a Saarinen tulip table; a bathroom decked in trendy white subway tiles with a gaudy floral shower curtain. Horvath’s boyfriend, Adam Sackler (whose last name, fittingly, is an obvious anagram for slacker), is a carpenter-actor-louse whose apartment is even more elegantly disheveled: a tarnished mirror, an typewriter, scraps of his carpenting wood, a plush but ratty settee.

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Toronto Real Estate, WTF?!

The Grange Park, photo by wyliepoon

Last Sunday night, before the sun went down, my boyfriend and I decided to stroll through my favourite Toronto neighbourhood and casually look for a new place to live. Right now, we rent a 1950s, 800-square-foot, ground-floor apartment near Sherbourne and Bloor. It’s a nice spot (we have our own garden and the building is quiet), in a nice area (we’re caught in a sweet spot between subway access and a lush, peaceful ravine). But I’ve always loved the neighbourhood around the Art Gallery of Ontario, at Beverley and Dundas West. The streets — leafy with lots of Victorian semis — are incredibly charming, and it’s near the Grange Park, OCAD, U of T, Kensington Market and Chinatown. Plus, my boyfriend and I are getting to that stage in life where renting is starting to feel too student-y (he just turned 30 and everyday I feel my 20s slipping away).

The first For Sale sign we noticed was for a tumble-down brick bungalow the size of Timbit. It looked a bit sad, with a yard of concrete pavers enclosed by a wobbly chain link fence. But before I could utter the phrase fixer upper, I was choked by the price. Over half a million dollars. The revelation made me feel both insulted and poor. I briefly tried to rationalize the price — good location, cute shape (with a little peaked roof) — then my brain started to hurt, so we moved on.

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