Walking towards the Salone Satellite 2019: my talk with Marva Griffin


Marva Griffin is the queen of the Salone Satellite. Let me tell you about my meeting in her studio, very close to the Castello Sforzesco, in Milan.

With Marva Griffin, creator of the Salone Satellite, in her studio

This year the Salone Satellite is preparing for its 22nd edition, with the usual aim of bringing young designers closer to the world of entrepreneurship. Over 550 talented young designers will try their hand at expressing the theme chosen for 2019: “Food as a Design Object”.


She immediately reminds me she is a busy lady and has little time, but then our chat lasts over 40 minutes. So during our time, amongst other things, the topics we covered ranged from Italian design to her reluctance to use social networks, to the events which are happening for the 500th anniversary of Leonardo da Vinci’s  death right up to the sad events happening in Venezuela, her homeland.


I begin our chat with a provocation, asking her if she has a favorite designer among the 12.000 under 35’s who have passed through the Salone Satellite over the years.

“Marva Griffin never tells about her favorite designer“, she immediately clarifies, “…….even if I have.”


She then adds:

“I believe it’s not right to name names. Salone Satellite always guarantees quality talent, and the event is growing and improving year on year. Design is the oldest industry in the world. Everything we use and touch was once designed. You were conceived in a bed that was once designed, you had your first dreams in a cradle that was once designed.”


What is design right now?

Right now, design is in fashion. Many years ago youngsters wanted to study fashion, today they want to study design. There is a greater focus on certain themes, though. We must always guarantee quality and the possibility of translating projects into working products for companies.


I’m a designer but also a blogger. I’m very active especially on Instagram. What is your relationship with social networks?

“I don’t like social media because there is no privacy. Every day after 7pm, I have a private life that I don’t want to put on social media. The Internet, the technological vanguard and the social media are very useful tools, especially for networking and keeping in touch. But there is a price to pay, our privacy and in my opinion is too high. My computer is often off, I prefer to read and find out things from reading the paper. Having said that, I do read my emails and reply on the iPad. For all the rest, I prefer to talk to people, travel a lot, see and capture the trends. I’d rather be there, to see things live. I do use Whatsapp but not very often. Then there’s another big problem which gives me concern, some information is only fake news. The communications from the Salone del Mobile-Milano are very prudent, very institutional”.


I imagine you are a very busy woman. Do you have any passions aside from design?

I love the beauty of the environment. I like to surround myself with beautiful things. I studied interior design and architecture. I’m very interested in houses, flowers and gardens. As a child I loved to move the furniture around, I moved everything. One of my favorite magazines was House & Garden / USA. After many years I became the Italian  correspondent for this magazine and also for Maison & Jardin / France.


What is it like to be a woman in the field of design? Are you a free woman?

I don’t do anything if I don’t feel like it. I pay a price to be free, but I consider myself a free woman, especially in the world in which I work.


Do you have a wish?

“I’m not telling.”

She smiles, looking away and moves her index finger gracefully.


Is there a colour that you prefer?

“I have several favorite colours. I really like white, red and various shades of brown and beige. I’m always colourful, even with my clothing. I really like colour in general”.


Some of the proposals by the talented young people taking part in Salone Satellite are often avant-garde. Is there any other project that you care about a lot and would like to tell us about?

Our Federazione, FederlegnoArredo, has founded a school called the  Rosario Messina training center for professionals specializing in the sectors of furniture and construction. This school, in the town of  Lentate sul Seveso, has dedicated an exhibition area to the Permanent Collection of SaloneSatellite, exhibiting prototypes which the furniture industry has actually put into production over the years. These objects are inspirational and educational for the students, precisely because they are designed and created by young people who believed in their passion and creativity. The aim is to make this project itinerant. I have many ideas about it that I would like to take further.


I said goodbye to Marva and let her run away to a meeting that she couldn’t miss. Whilst I was getting on the first train that would take me back to Siena, I thought about how much tenacity is needed to have a business or activity. Knowing how to surround yourself with the right people, accepting only the most valid advice, taking on new challenges and always having the courage to feel free. I return back home thinking about her words, some of which will remain with me as they were spoken with strength and emotion.

I would like to say once again, “Thanks Marva”.

 You all are invited to Salone Satellite, from 9th – 14th April 2019, in halls 22-24. The theme for this year’s SaloneSatellite is: “Food as a Design Object”. This year is important for the SaloneSatellite Awards, there will be celebrations, as it has reached its tenth edition. Also there will be an international jury of professionals from the design world who will be giving prizes to the 3 best products on display there.

What ideas will emerge this year from the young talents of the Salone Satellite? Did you know that this event started in 1998? Since then over 270 design schools from all over the world have participated in this competition. Do you know the founder, Marva Griffin?

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *