May 23, 2024

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In Milan, a Party With T-Shaped Ice Cubes, Balloons and Pasta

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On Monday evening, T Magazine held its annual party to help kick off the Salone del Mobile design fair in Milan. For the sixth year, guests flocked to Villa Necchi Campiglio, the 1935 Rationalist-style home designed by the Italian architect Piero Portaluppi. But this year, the cause for celebration was twofold: The event also marked the magazine’s 20th anniversary, and to honor the occasion, T’s editor in chief, Hanya Yanagihara, commissioned the Parisian multidisciplinary artist Ramdane Touhami to oversee the party’s design.

“There are Ts everywhere,” said Touhami of his concept, which involved transforming the magazine’s beveled capital-letter logo into everything from ice cubes to several installations on the villa’s grounds. At the entrance to the property, guests posed for photos in front of a petrol blue backdrop formed from three silvery letter Ts. And later, after they’d wandered down the gravel path to the house — perhaps taking a champagne flute from one of several servers stationed along the way — they encountered reflective letters set into the home’s stone pergola and spelling out “T Magazine at 20.”

Touhami, 49, was born in the South of France and is the founder of the Paris-based creative agency Art Recherche Industrie. His three-decade-long career has ranged from retail projects — he transformed the 19th-century French fragrance company Officine Universelle Buly into a contemporary beauty brand before selling it to the luxury conglomerate LVMH in 2021 — to designing types and fonts via his Swiss printing press and typography studio, the Société Helvétique d’Impression Typographique. More recently, he has set his sights on hospitality: For the party, Touhami flew in bartenders from the Drei Berge Hotel, a chalet-like lodge that he opened in Mürren, Switzerland, in 2022. The bar was even designed to look like its forest green facade.

Throughout the night, guests mingled in the garden over cocktails — rose-and-grapefruit Negronis, Aperol or limoncello spritzes with basil, and Pimm’s punch — and ate dishes prepared by the Parisian chef Rose Chalalai Singh, who devised a menu of inventive Thai-Italian snacks. There was curry-topped pizza, paper takeout cartons filled with tangy tagliatelle pad Thai, puffed rice crackers smeared with Bolognese ragù and cheese-filled arancini made with sticky rice rather than the traditional carnaroli or arborio varieties.

If they weren’t outside by the pool, attendees — including the British designer Bethan Laura Wood, the Milanese architect Massimiliano Locatelli, the MoMA architecture and design curator Paola Antonelli, the New York-based designer Stephen Burks and the fashion designers Maximilian Davis, of Ferragamo, and Sabato de Sarno, of Gucci — wandered through Villa Necchi’s private rooms, where docents were on hand to point out Giorgio de Chirico paintings and Picasso sketches. Many also peeked into an adjoining showroom, where the kitchen brand Gaggenau holds its yearly presentation. (The company provided Chalalai Singh’s team of chefs with its grill station, which Touhami arranged to form a giant T.)

Though the party started promptly at seven, it really picked up as the sun went down. Pink and blue spotlights illuminated Touhami’s mirrored letters, including T-shaped Mylar balloons that floated in the pool, creating a disco ball effect in the flower-filled garden. As darkness fell, the volume went up and a makeshift dance floor formed around the D.J. Nari Fshr, who played hits like Crystal Waters’s “Gypsy Woman” and “Upside Down” by Diana Ross. The savory snacks were replaced with desserts: fluffy, multicolor madeleines molded into Ts and white chocolate lollipops by the Milanese pastry shop and restaurant Sant Ambroeus. As guests filtered out of the villa’s wrought-iron gates around 11 p.m., each was handed a tote bag containing a notebook bound with Dedar fabric, T’s most recent design issue — and a bag of pasta shaped, of course, like the letter of the evening. “The T pasta is very funny,” Touhami said of the souvenir. “No one had done it before.”

Laura May Todd

2024-04-16 20:45:27

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