• Design encounter en route to #salone2012: Marcel Wanders dinner service for KLM airlines. Who knew?

    Credit: Ian Volner

    Design encounter en route to #salone2012: Marcel Wanders dinner service for KLM airlines. Who knew?
  • Post-plane, made the rounds of pre-fair previews. Bump right into none other than Marcel Wanders. MW = ubiquitous at #salone2012.

    Credit: Ian Volner

    Post-plane, made the rounds of pre-fair previews. Bump right into none other than Marcel Wanders. MW = ubiquitous at #salone2012.

Salone 2012 got under way early for me this year, beginning in flight to Milan via Amsterdam within what can only be described as the Wanders Parallax.

We had been remarking to ourselves about the extremely fine dinner service aboard KLM Airlines—unique linen and flatware, including a gracefully torqued swizzle stick, all of it stamped with a lacing floral pattern. We found the answer to the service ware’s designer at the bottom of our plastic salad bowl (similarly embossed). Of course it was Marcel Wanders, the Dutch design dynamo, who had been conscripted by the national airline.

Things got weird, though, on the connecting flight. An airline rep leaned over and asked us if we would mind a film crew crouching beside us; they were, he said, making a documentary. About Marcel Wanders. Who was sitting just opposite us across the aisle.

We introduced ourselves and fell to talking. Wanders spent most of the flight doodling; at one point, we picked up his dropped pencil. 

Once arrived in Milan, we took a walk through the city’s Zona Tortona, the once (and still, to no small degree) industrial section that’s become home to many high-end design showrooms. The area is a vast, grayish tangle of railroads and canals, and we couldn’t help but feel acutely Futurist, with the shades of Sant’Elia and Marinetti peeping at us from every iron catwalk and passing streetcar. 

With jetlag beginning to cause some serious cognitive irregularities, we made a very quick tour of the showroom previews in the district; the Dedon storefront deserves special mention, equipped as it is with a backyard featuring a single oversized golf cart, upholstered in the company’s signature wicker. We made a final stop at Established & Sons, and nearly thought that exhaustion had got the better of us when we thought we saw, perched atop a creamy, elliptical bathtub, a familiar figure. No hallucination: It was our old friend Marcel. We got the picture to prove it.