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On The Ground In Milan: Architect Rob Mills

Rob Mills Salone del Mobile

For Rob Mills, coming to the Milan Fair is a sourcing exercise, a form of education, and an inimitable place of inspiration. And the invitation extends to much of his team.

Have you been to Milan before?

Yes, I usually come to Milan twice every year. We source a lot of raw materials from Northern Italy such as stone, lighting, unique materials and ideas. Here you see the very best and latest from around the world,  So we regularly travel to Italy to discover a much broader range of colours and textures. We are also drawn to Italy for is architecture, culture, cuisine and most importantly for the people.

And the Salone del Mobile?

Always a highlight. We come here to refresh our palette and be inspired. We never really know what we are going to find; it’s simply about the journey. Some years are better than others and what’s on show tends to reflect the economy at the time. I thought 2019 was a very good year. 

What does this global fair mean for designers, architects and design enthusiasts in Australia?

I can’t speak for other designers, but the source of our inspiration is definitely Europe. For an Australian designer, it’s an essential part of your ongoing education to travel here if you want to design in that style – which we do. 

I am Anglo-Saxon; my family came from Europe and I’ve grown up in environment influenced by Europe.  My mother studied fine art and from a young age we were emersed in the history and culture of Europe.  By the age of 16 I had experienced every major art gallery and public building in many parts of Europe.  I respect and appreciate their way of life. So Europe calls to me. I always want to understand it more. And of course some of the best designers in the world have traditionally lived and worked in Europe, so the design culture interests me too. 

What was your favourite stand at the fair? 

There were definitely some standouts: Flexform, Baxter and B&B. All three created a landscape within their display so it was an absolute pleasure to walk among their furniture. Wherever you looked, there was a green backdrop, which was both refreshing and intelligent. 

There were many impressive smaller brands too, such as Articolo. I thought what Nicky Green had achieved was outstanding with a product that easily stands up against the world’s best. That was a proud moment for Australia.

What were some of the stand out installations this year?

Boffi is always good. Agape, Viabizzuno and Baxter – we went to their jazz bar, which was exciting. 

What was your rose for the week?

For me this year it wasn’t so much the place as it was the people. My highlight was travelling with my colleagues from RMA: Kendra Pinkus, Mellisa dal Pozzo and Clement Chen. It was so much fun. Melissa is head of marketing. Clement is a lead architect. Kendra is a head of interiors, and quite celebrated in her own right.  

Our work environment is pretty intense and disciplined, and we share in this responsibility. In Milan we shared these inspiring experiences which encouraged a common ground and foundation to draw from. Most importantly we lived together enjoying the fruits of Milan

And your thorn?

I was really overwhelmed by the premiere of our new film. That was a big deal for us.   The process of making the film was fun but there was so much at stake, and it was quite demanding. About a month or two out, we realised to tell our story we needed more than just the original film so we made two more films leading up to Milan and that was a stretch. It involved travelling around Australia with a drone photographer capturing the land we are working on across the country. 

By the time We arrived in Milan, having just finished with the film two days before Friday, we were finished! 

It must have felt nice to present it, despite the nervous anticipation.

It was. I had spent a great deal of time writing a speech, and I was very proud of it, however the moment I really enjoyed was when I ad-libbed. There was such a positive energy in the room that evening which I won’t forget. 

Will you come back next year for Salone? 

Absolutely. I see it as a great education for our team. There is always something more to discover.

Rob Mills Architecture & Interiors
robmills.com.au

*Robs Mills debuts his film, The Search, at Salone del Mobile.Milano 2019.

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