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Marsotto, a centennial company expert in the processing of marble and natural stone, called the Japanese studio Nendo to design the new showroom in Brera, in the center of Milan.

The marble in the Nendo project is transformed into lace with perforated geometries and overlaps. The gentle and elegant touch of Oki Sato transforms marble into a soft material and invents a seat on the facade, a gift for the city of Milan.

If you followed me in the mini-Milan Design Week tour in September, you have surely noticed my enthusiasm for the new showroom of the Marsotto marble company in Largo Treves 2, Brera, designed by the Japanese studio Nendo. You can find the stories on Instagram.

Nendo is the Japanese studio directed and founded by Oki Sato, the rock star of design, my favorite contemporary designer. Here you can find the interview we did some Fuorisalone ago: “Nendo: an interview with Oki Sato”.

From Tokyo to Milan to create a place open to architects, designers but also to private design enthusiasts to discover the variety of materials and their possibilities. Nendo not only managed to create a universe but a true emotional journey in a game of black and white contrasts.

When we met Oki Sato for the project briefing, we asked to represent our corporate heritage in an emotional environment, emphasizing its “artindustriality” as the ability to combine the gestures of master craftsmen with high technology through intense research processes” Costanza Olfi, marketing manager at Marsotto

Nendo is certainly not the first encounter for Marsotto with contemporary design, in fact in 2010 they founded Marsotto Edizioni, a brand dedicated to furniture and accessories made entirely of marble and designed by international designers (Nendo too).

The sculptural entrance is a triumph of marble and technical skill. From the monumental facade that takes up the decoration of the Milanese palace, a light marble portal introduces a world suspended between absolute whites and blacks.

8 mm thick perforated marble panels lead the underground floor, through a very dark passage, to a space that looks like a museum, an art gallery dedicated to marble.

Marsotto, a centenary brand, among the excellence of Made in Italy, dedicated to the processing of marble and natural stones, has called my favorite contemporary design star. I certainly couldn’t resist wanting to know more, and so I asked Marsotto a few questions, here’s our interview:

Q. How did you choose Nendo studio to design your showroom in the heart of Brera?

A. We had previously collaborated with studio nendo for the development of some product lines for the Marsotto Edizioni collection and some installations. After choosing the location in the historic and renowned Design district in Brera, we knew that Oki Sato, thanks to his particular sensitivity and empathy accompanied by his undisputed artistic talent, would be the perfect designer for our space where we wanted to tell through the architectural project the tradition and evolution of the company in over one hundred years of activity.

Q. What was it like working with Oki Sato and his studio? Was the project approved from the first sketches?

A. It is always an honor and privilege to be able to work with Oki and his staff; the realization of the detailed and futuristic projects designed by studio nendo requires a great deal of research which represents for us a stimulus to enrich our knowledge.
After having entrusted Oki Sato with the task of designing the showroom, at the first meeting he arrived with a scale model of the project with attention to the smallest details, already a masterpiece in itself. His initial proposal included the façade with the hollow shape, aimed at representing from the entrance and in a contemporary key, the company’s tradition in sculptural art and the skill in working with marble. The ironic sign of the chair, which is capturing the attention of many visitors and passers-by, was an element that thrilled us and its approval was practically immediate. With the lockdown period, we had more time available to further detail the space, implementing it with details not initially foreseen; the dialogue and exchange of ideas and proposals with the nendo studio have created a fruitful synergy that has led us to the realization of the current showroom project.

Q. Have you noticed a Japanese approach to the marble/stone material different from the Italian one?

A. The Japanese approach is distinguished by the spirituality and emotion that it knows how to impress on the material. Oki Sato has designed the entire space with its characteristic elegant and light feature, making the environment bright in an ethereal and embracing atmosphere.
The refinement and stylistic cleanliness of the project accompanied by a poetic and ironic language, typical of Japan, perfectly met our idea of the new showroom.

Q. How have you been received by the district?

A. Initially we were a bit worried about the reactions that a new and so particular element might bring within an important historical area. The neighborhood, on the other hand, welcomed us with enthusiasm, many people came to the showroom with the desire to get to know us directly. We can only be happy with the compliments received and above all with this positive welcome in such a complicated moment.

Photo Marsotto – Hiroki Tagma