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Revolutionising a classic - Dior and Starck update an iconic chair at Milan Design Week

Chairs from the Dior by Starck collection on display at Milan Design Week
Chairs from the Dior by Starck collection on display at Milan Design Week Copyright Copyright AFP
Copyright Copyright AFP
By Saskia O'Donoghue
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French designer Phillipe Starck and Dior Maison launch new pieces from their continued collaboration at Milan Design Week

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The Salone del Mobile in Milan, otherwise known as Milan Design Week, is always filled to the brim with heavy hitters from the design world. 2023 is no exception, boasting none other than the launch of a continued collaboration between Dior Maison and Philippe Starck.

After starting their relationship last year, the two world renowned French designers have been working on reinventing Dior's iconic Medallion chair, said to be a tribute to the fashion house's late founder, Christian Dior.

Among numerous designs, including a boucle fabric and various pieces in Dior’s signature toile de Jouy, is the standout piece - the Monsieur Dior armchair, based on the elegant, oval-backed Medallion chair, a piece associated with the fashion house since 1947.

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Chairs on display as part of a video instillation for the Dior by Starck collectionCopyright AFP

Starck, who has designed a vast catalogue of pieces throughout his career, from buildings and interiors and household objects to boats and watches, explains that the creation of the Monsieur Dior armchair was the logical step in the partnership.

“After [the chair] Miss Dior it was natural to expand the family”, he told press at Milan Design Week, “The duo of creations, the Miss Dior Sweet chair and the Monsieur Dior armchair, are perfectly balanced through these essential, existential notions of gravity and lightness, of yin and yang. Miss Dior and Monsieur Dior, Catherine and Christian Dior, the sister and the brother, the chair and the armchair, is the story of a sublime complementary duality".

The Starck-designed chairs are accompanied at the impressive display at the 18th Century Palazzo Citterio in the centre of Milan - as part of Fuorisalone, the satellite show of the main Salone fair based across the city - with matching and complementary tables and stools.

The designer has used aluminium throughout his designs and the manufacturing process, speaking of his fondness for its simplicity and durability, explaining, “aluminium is the point zero from which everything is built, the idea of intelligence and purity of technology. The object as it is in its origin, its essence, without any dross”.

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Designer Phillipe Starck poses at the launch of his new collection with Dior at Milan Design WeekCopyright AFP via Getty Images

While aluminium might be simplicity to its core, the display at Palazzo Citterio is anything but. Guests are made to wait in the building’s stunning courtyard before being ushered - literally, there are men wearing branded Dior t-shirts acting as cinema-style ushers shining torches at the floor - into an auditorium. There, visitors are shown a video and musical installation in the round, with toile de Jouy and apparent liquid aluminium on display, surrounded by plain versions of the Medallion chair which move up and down on strings. 

The experience, created by Soundwalk Collective, is a fairly trippy one although brief and is followed by a quick visit to see Starck’s collection in person before Dior personnel rush you out into the daylight to sit at tables flanked by toile de Jouy printed umbrellas.

Copyright Emanuele Cremaschi / Getty Images
Chairs on display at the Dior by Starck exhibit at Palazzo Citterio in MilanCopyright Emanuele Cremaschi / Getty Images

If you’re keen to get your hands on pieces from the collection, it will be rather a long wait - it isn’t available until next year, when it will go on sale at a selection of Dior boutiques.

In Euronews Culture's experience, this is an extremely popular event at Milan Design week so booking ahead is advised to avoid long queues. The Dior by Starck exhibit will be on show until April 23 in Palazzo Citterio at Via Brera 12 in Milan.

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