Salone del Mobile 2018: Gabriel Scott x Bar Basso
Those who have passed through Milan for its visual culture – whether it be architecture, design or fine art – know that Bar Basso is more than an institution. In the bohemian quarter of Città Studi in Milan, not too far off from the Politecnico university campus, the bar has been frequented by a scene of eclectic personalities, as well as casual neighbours, since the 1960's. Each edition of Salone del Mobile, Milan's design week, sees the international design community flock to the bar for an aperitivo, in particular for the "negroni sbagliato" for which the venue is famed.
As the legend goes, in 1967 bartender Mirko Stocchetto mistakenly grabbed a bottle of sparkling wine instead of gin when making a negroni, creating the "sbagliato," a Bar Basso signature that is now universally recognized by its name. Italian for "wrong negroni" or "messed up negroni," the drink is made of equal parts gin, sparkling wine and vermouth, and is famously served in clunky glass goblets.
For Salone del Mobile 2018, Gabriel Scott collaborated with Bar Basso to showcase an artistic display of custom MYRIAD fixtures in Negroni-inspired glass in the windows to match the quintessential drink. The 50 foot WELLES Glass Long will stay at Bar Basso indefinitely, as the single update they've had to the space since current owner Maurizio Stocchetto's family took ownership 50 years ago. We spoke to Gabriel Kakon and Scott Richler of the design firm Gabriel Scott on what prompted the collaboration between libation and lighting.
Tell us about your first time at Bar Basso.
Gabriel Kakon: We had quite a special encounter with Bar Basso during our 2017 participation at Euroluce. This was our first time presenting at Salone, and Bar Basso was a "must-visit" according to many. It was special in the sense that we encountered many of our industry peers and influencers, some of whom are literally down the street from us in NYC, but only at Bar Basso did we have the opportunity to strike up a conversation and get personal.
Scott Richler: I didn't really know what to expect, as we headed there pretty late after one of last year's design week events. It was described as the place to go for the design community when in Milan. As a result, I was imagining an exclusive club with a tough door. Instead, I found an incredibly humble Milanese bar, whose clock seemed to have stopped ticking sometime in the late 1960s, literally overflowing with people.
How did the collaboration with Bar Basso come about?
GK: The memorable times we had at Basso the previous year was the first thing that came to mind when searching for an off-site presence at this year's Salone. As a matter of fact, we hadn't considered any other option. Bar Basso was a natural fit and the idea was very well received by Maurizio and the team. After a successful installation at this year's show, we all decided the modern fixture was a perfect addition to the untouched venue. Our 45 foot WELLES fixture will be permanently showcased at the bar for all to see in years to come.
How many negroni sbagliati did you have to taste before creating the lamps?
GK: None really – I don't drink.
SR: Pink drinks seem to flow so easily in Milan... it's impossible to count.
What do you think Bar Basso represents for the international design community?
GK: It is a unanimous meeting ground that sees a massive crowd every evening during Milan Design Week. An impressive gathering of people from all around the world, of all ages, and from various design-related domains. The immense crowd is a sharp contrast to the typically rather quiet gathering of neighbourhood regulars – or as Maurizio puts it, "it is like a resort after peak season, in that it becomes very quiet and still after the visiting crowd heads back home."
SR: I actually think it acts as a sort of refuge for the design community... a reprieve from the relentless design-week calendar.