n the centre of Milan, the Fragile gallery puts on display contemporary pieces and design icons in a triumph of colours and textures, which bring infectious cheer. Just one look is enough to depart from Milanese minimal chic and to be catapulted into a playful and ironic world. We’re greeted with a gigantic colourful geometric puzzle on the floor, walls in light-blue/mint-green, a finely detailed white balustrade and a lower ground floor in pink and yellow. Interior designer Alessandro Mendini is far from grey.
Fragile was set up in 2000 by Alessandro Padoan, and the San Damiano headquarters opened in 2013 with a wonderful collection of iconic pieces by top contemporary designers like Alessandro Mendini and Gaetano Pesce, to Gio Ponti, Angelo Mangiarotti, Franco Albini, BBPR, Gino Sarfatti, Carlo Scarpa, Osvaldo Borsani, Gae Aulenti...
If you come to Milan for its design, you’re bound to know this area extremely well, a stone’s throw away from Piazza San Babila. This neighborhood has showrooms by top Italian brands, and a vintage gallery completes this picture perfectly. Alessandro Padoan fell in love with twentieth century design, when he used to clear out cellars of old junk to pay for university. However, Alessandro was studying something else entirely. He was on his way to become a mental health rehabilitation technician, but a passion for the furniture he was finding rapidly grew on him. He also found he had a real knack for evaluating the age and indentifying the quality of the pieces which were being thrown out.
During the 90s, Alessandro used to sell on the furniture he saved from incinerators in England, and spent his days packing boxes and writing FRAGILE one them. “It’s the same in Italian and English, but still half of the items used to arrive in pieces” he tells us “To keep writing this and hoping these pieces would be rescued became an obsession of mine”: And so, when it came to naming his first company, calling it Fragile was almost a given.
The limited edition Deriva lamps designed by Alessandro Mendini for Fragile.
For years, Fragile has been a reference point for international collectors. The constant search for forgotten design brought Alessandro Padoan also to Paris, where in 2012 he opened a gallery opposite the entrance of the Saint Ouen flea market. However, when asked to name his favourite designer, Alessandro didn’t hesitate for a moment: Angelo Lelii. Rediscovered recently, Angelo Lelii is the genius lighting designer who in 1947 set up iconic brand Arredoluce in a tiny basement in Monza, just outside Milan.
Via San Damiano, 2
20122 Milan, Italy
Tel: 0039 02 36 56 11 61
Tue - Fri 10.00-13.00 / 14.00-19.00
Sat by appointment only
Closed on Sondays and Mondays
Courtesy Galleria Fragile