Mercanteinfiera – the Italian exhibition of antiques, historic design and vintage collectibles – opens today

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Parma (Italy)_Mercanteinfiera opens today, Saturday 12 March, at Fiere di Parma, and for 9 days it will see Antiques and Modern Antiques blend with Historic Design by, for example, Albini, Pesce, Sottsass and Caccia Dominioni, as well as vintage curiosities, like the jewellerly box given by the President of Paramount to Marlene Dietrich or the collector’s pieces by Chanel, LV, Hermès, Versace, Gucci and Manolo Blahnik. Buyers from all over the world are looking forward to it.

Historic design and modern antiques, furnishings from another time, which for decades have been handed down from generation to generation and now are ready for a new life. It’s durability, the other face of sustainability. These “happy furnishings”, ageless because of the beauty of their design and the quality of their materials, take centre stage – together with Art and Antiques – at Mercanteinfiera, the Fiere di Parma exhibition running from 12 to 20 March.

Antichi vasi orientali_Ph Danilo Marchesi

Forty thousand sqm of exhibition space, 4 pavilions and 1000 exhibitors, in reality a thousand microcosms of sentimental furnishings that can mix together archaeology, antiques (four centuries of history of art are on display) and historic design (Franco Albini, Gaetano Pesce, Sottsass, Caccia Dominioni, Gio Ponti, Colombo, Fornasetti, Arne Jacobsen, and Riccardo Giovannetti, just to mention a few).

Then there are the vintage collectibles by Chanel, LV, Hermès, Versace, Gucci and Manolo Blahnik, timeless brands that have ennobled curiosities and the ephemeral dimension. Like the jewellery box that the President of Paramount, Adolf Zukor, left in Marlene Dietrich’s dressing room as a gift for her; the embossed silver bowl given by Edward Albert, Prince of Wales, to his dentist in Sandringham, or a still life painted by Luciano Lutring, painter and criminal. The latter, known in the 1960s as the “machine gun soloist” because he used to hide his weapons in a violin case, had a double career as outlaw and artist.

Hermés Faubourg bag_Ph Credit Danilo Marchesi.
Pochette by Mario Buccellati 1920s_Ph Credit Danilo Marchesi.
Gaetano Pesce, UP5 armchair, 1969_Ph Fabio Bottini_LD

Mercanteinfiera, an exhibition with a strong international appeal, “is restarting – as Ilaria Dazzi, Exhibition Director, stated – “on the basis of the excellent result it achieved last autumn with 50,000 visitors and about 5000 buyers, confirming a loyalty to the exhibition that was in some ways unexpected. The conditions for a very successful 26th edition are all there, as shown by the requests from buyers and professionals who are arriving from all over the world.”

“O Teodor/ le cose strane/ Americane/ chiamate son…/perfin la donna/ per esser strana/ non porta gonna/ ma pantalon/“(O Teodor/ strange things/ are called/ American…/ even women/ to be strange/ don’t wear a skirt/ but pants/). And also: “Partono ‘e bastimente/ pe’ terre assaje luntane/ cantano a bordo: sò napulitane / (The ships are sailing/ for faraway lands/ they are singing on board: they’re from Naples).

These are excerpts from the old songs “Teodoro” and “Santa Lucia Lontana”. A few bars that reflect the amazement but also the great nostalgia of millions of Italian migrants (over 14 million) who in the early 1900s embarked for the United States with the great shipping companies.

They are the protagonists of the collateral exhibition “The ships were setting sail. Home sweet home America”. The other protagonist, alongside them, is the collective memory that is “necessary – continues Dazzi – to strengthen a common public spiritThe stories of yesterday’s migrations are fundamentally the same as those we see today, with the same fears, the same hopes and the same feelings.”

The exhibition, curated by Massimo Cutò, journalist and collector, consists of three sections: the phenomenon of migration, the ships and the crossing. The exhibition ranges from the posters of elegant liners with smoking chimneys to the ads of Italian products that were already the symbols of a pioneering “Made in Italy” sector; from the evocative family photos framed by the two flags, signifying integration into the New World, to the manuals for becoming “good foreign citizens” and the dreaded health cards issued on Ellis Island, which decreed the end or the beginning of the migrants’ dream.

Keith Haring, Dollar_PhDanilo Marchesi

Olivetti #HistoryofInnovation” is the title of the show organized in collaboration with the Olivetti Historical Archive Association in Ivrea. The itinerary consists of three stages – typing machines, calculators, laptops printers and cash registers – that focus on Adriano Olivetti’s concept of design: not just an external finishing touch to apply to the product in order to sell more, but rather a metaphor for responsibility towards the environment, people, the destiny of the product and of society.

Among the models on display, the Lettera 22 portable typewriter, “As light as a syllable, complete as a sentence”.  Designed for Olivetti by the architect Marcello Nizzoli, it quickly became the typewriter of choice for great journalists and writers like Indro Montanelli, Oriana Fallaci, Enzo Biagi, Gianni Mura and Ernest Hemingway.

Lettera 22 poster by Raymond Savignac

On display there will be 5 typewriters in the original colours used in the 1950s: brown, pink, green and blue. The fifth machine, on the other hand, was produced recently. In 2020, to celebrate the 70th anniversary of Lettera 22, the Olivetti Historical Archive Association, in collaboration with Rinascente and “Olivetti x Tutti’, presented a special version of the Olivetti Lettera 22 with the body painted in the three colours of the Italian flag.


Date: from 12 to 20 March 2022

Location: Fiere di Parma, Viale delle Esposizioni 393a

Opening hours: 10 am to 7 pm

Admission: 12 Euro (full price)

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