Other modes of transport may modernise and morph into driverless or futuristic high-speed versions of their former selves, but there remains something resolutely and romantically 19th century about the tram – even the modern ones. So with a universal fondness and nostalgia attached to the concept as a starting point, Italian designer Cristina Celestino’s main project for Salone del Mobile was bound take off – albeit on rails.
The designer, who excels at contemporary design that references historic styles and forms, rose to global prominence in 2015 when Fendi unveiled her pastel-pretty, Fifties-inspired Happy Room at Design Miami. In a similar vein she has taken a 1928 tram and transformed the interiors into a ‘travelling salon’ that harks back to old world glamour and yet in its immersive design context feels very now. Her vision ‘inspired by the theme of the journey, as an experience with dream and surreal overtones’, has been realised in collaboration with historic Venetian fabric house Rubelli, Bessana Carpet Lab, and passementerie specialists Antica Fabbrica Passamanerie Massia Vittorio 1843.
Taking her cues from a theatre, or cinema layout, Celestino has divided the interior into two zones: a foyer, or waiting room and a screening room. The former is furnished with bespoke banquette seating upholstered in a combination of jacquards and velvets in a typically uplifting Celestino palette of coral and aqua-green. This space is totally enclosed by an abundance of coral-hued floral Rubelli ‘Goldfinger’ silk brocade drapes – which were also tailored into palazzo pants for the onboard team.
Passementerie features prominently, not just in delicate string curtains (in three tones of pink with the bottom segment dyed to match the greens of the carpet) separating the two spaces, but also wrapped around the metal poles of the tram, and even the driver’s convex mirrors – here a coloured antiqued version – are decoratively framed in coiled rope.
Celestino continues her playful reappropriation of jewellery typologies, originally debuted with Fendi as marbled-topped tables featuring brass bases echoing the butterfly backs of earrings. For Corallo there are ottomans modeled on oversized jewellery boxes and a brass and opalescent Murano glass table lamp, modeled on the ‘diminutive icon of elegance’ — the cufflink. Even the grip rings on the safety straps resemble jewellery, refashioned here in tortoiseshell resin.