Daniel Libeskind is clearly enjoying la dolce vita in Milan.
The New York-based architect moved to the city on a part-time basis after winning a 2004 competition for the master plan and development CityLife, a new residential and commercial district just outside of Milan’s historic city center. And at the Salone del Mobile this month, Libeskind introduced seven new products, ranging from a labyrinthine steel clock for Alessi to a Swarovski chess set.
“Designing products is exactly the same as designing buildings, but without the headaches,” he says.
CityLife, located on the former grounds of Fiera Milano, was designed in conjunction with Zaha Hadid Architects (ZHA) and Arata Isozaki & Associates. Many of both Libeskind and ZHA’s apartments, conceived as a series of “archipelagos” over a 90-acre tract, have been completed, and residents are now beginning to move in. When finished, there will be 20 penthouses—dubbed “Sky Villas”—in the Libeskind buildings, and journalists were invited to tour one of the residences.
To say that the décor is over-the-top is an understatement; Milan-based designer Rossana Orlandi selected pieces like a mirrored baroque dining table, cascading crystal chandelier, and loads of one-off furniture and art. The apartment itself, a duplex, includes expansive terraces on both floors that provide breathtaking views of the city. The floor-through residence is completely open with a narrow wooden staircase leading to the bedroom and master bath upstairs. With just once bedroom, these dwellings are clearly for the childless one percent. Prices range from around €6,000 to €11,000 a square meter (about $7,000 to $12,500).
Libeskind’s design for CityLife led to yet another new product: a finely textured light grey tile for Casalgrande Padana, which is used to clad the complex’s five buildings.
While Libeskind practices architecture in the U.S., he will only do products with Italian companies. “With Italians, it’s never just about getting something to the market,” he says. "It’s the linking of knowledge and tradition. It’s about needing to get to know a person.”
Click through the slideshow for images of Libeskind’s CityLife apartments, and his new products.