Italian design: Mercantinfiera, the exhibition of historical design, art and rarities in Parma

May 22, 2021 129

Antique ivory and tortoiseshell coin cabinets, huge neoclassical mirrors and nineteenth-century vases from the Trapani tradition, Liberty pieces, trumeau, baccarat crystals, cavet de liqueur, English cabinets and jewels. Then he, the design. 

This is Mercanteinfiera à la carte, the appointment of Fiere di Parma first announced, then postponed, suspended and finally confirmed, which will start on Friday, June 18th until Sunday, June 20th, although with a "slim" edition: fewer exhibitors, less square meters but still a hunt for rarities. 

Mercanteinfiera is in fact a creative outpost in the heart of Italy where antiques, vintage collecting, designer (or historical) and unique pieces meet, attracting visitors from all over the world every year.

In the spaces of the exhibition center you can find iconic pieces of design that have made the history of Italian culture. Always numerous among the exhibitors, at each edition, the objects of Gio Ponti from lamps to the unobtainable cutlery passing perhaps for an unusual corner bar. Then, the experimental vases and colored mirrors Ultrafragola by Ettore Sottsass, who used color in its most pop declinations as his incontrovertible trademark. And then there are the chairs by Franco Albini, the pieces by Carlo Mollino, Iosa Ghini or Carla Tolomeo famous for her Sedie-Sculture (chair-sculptures), a cultured and refined amusement that has conquered the whole world (New York and Dallas included).

Unique pieces that span the history of design, often out of production, flanked by objects by anonymous designers, in their signature, but certainly not in shape or style. Like a lacquered cabinet by an anonymous designer of the mid-twentieth century.

A true miscellany of taste, in short, the one present at Mercanteinfiera, which mixes an unusual Brionvega radio-phonograph with Betty Boop, all perhaps not far from an eccentric and colorful Murano chandelier found only in the D&G boutique in Capri. It was made by Fabiano Zanchi, creator of one of the most expensive chandeliers in the world. To see it, however, it is necessary to take a trip to Dubai.

All in all, Parma was a varied parterre of exhibitors, where design winks at the unusual, such as Indian silver anklets from the end of the 1800s or antique fencing masks that become furnishing objects in colonial-style settings. Or to pop art, such as the amusing DNA model plexiglass console table.

At Mercanteinfiera the inspirations also touch contemporary themes such as the circular economy. And so here are the iron armchairs OIL by Roberto Mora, playful objects that interpret design as a reuse of industrial waste. Because Mercanteinfiera is not only a place where to design spaces but where to find new inspirations of taste. 

Mercanteinfiera will be back in Parma, Emilia Romagna next Autumn 2021 from October 2nd to 10th.

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