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Looking Out

A rewilding of interior design in the heart of Milan.
Words by Gabriele Dellisanti. Photography by Giorgio Possenti.

  • Design

A rewilding of interior design in the heart of Milan.
Words by Gabriele Dellisanti. Photography by Giorgio Possenti.

Josephine Akvama Hoffmeyer and Elisa Ossino, co-founders of the design studio H+O, have heeded the call of the wild at this year’s Salone del Mobile. “After two years of dealing with the pandemic and reflecting on the importance of nature in our lives, we wanted to explore the connection between people and the planet,” says Ossino. The result of that process, Inside Looking Out, is an all-immersive, interactive exhibition that brings inspiration from the natural world and animal kingdom, along with the best of Italian and Danish design, into the duo’s 18th-century Milanese apartment-turned-gallery.

Gabriele Dellisanti: Animals don’t often feature at Salone. How did they inspire Inside Looking Out?

Elisa Ossino: During the pandemic, we saw a lot of animals around us here in the city. Dolphins were swimming around Venice! This made us reflect on how, even if we often forget it, animals are part of our universe. We wanted to create ways for people to reflect on their connection with animals.

Josephine Akvama Hoffmeyer: We wanted to create this sense of oneness with nature by using design and color in a way that connects with our senses. We just want to show how natural it feels for animals to be part of our world. We’ve added some beautiful art pieces where you can’t tell if they’re depicting a human or a bird, or something in between.

EO: We also worked with local artist Stefano Roveda, who put a large screen behind a mirror. The closer you get to the mirror, you’ll notice your face slowly transforming into an animal.

JAH: It’s meant to evoke very strong feelings, because you have the eyes of the animal looking straight back at you. And the message is: We and nature are one.

GD: How else have you brought nature into the exhibition?

EO: The exhibition is fully conceptual: We don’t have a single plant, even though the whole exhibition relates to nature. It’s an experiment that invokes the senses through sound and projections.

JAH: We carefully chose a selection of colors and textures, which is something Elisa and I have specialized in for years. Then, we decided to test what it means to live with art inside a home and commissioned pieces ranging from handmade sketches to full-on interactive experiences—each connected to the theme of the exhibition.

GD: Which design pieces have you selected to represent this theme?

EO: We worked with a lot of different natural and raw materials to highlight this deep connection we have with nature. I designed a sofa specifically for the space and it’s upholstered with natural wool woven with a loom using centuries-old local techniques. The space is also furnished with pieces from some of our favorite Italian and Danish designers and firms, including Karakter, Atelier Areti, Dux, V-Zug, File Under Pop, Tubes, and more.

JAH: I’ve used tiles in a less traditional sense. Not as a practical material that can easily be cleaned but as a distinctive element that makes a space. I’ve added a mix of colors, from shades of dark green to bright yellow, creating different themes in every room and connecting the viewer with the natural world.

June 7 to 12, 2022

Via Solferino 11, 3rd Floor
Brera District, Milan

10 a.m. to 8 p.m.

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