Creator of the Year 2023 - Marva Griffin Wilshire: Mentor for Young Designers Worldwide

© Daniel Banner

Marva Griffin was born in Venezuela, and Milan became her city of adoption when, in the seventies, she started to work in the field of design and furnishing. She began her career as PR communication at what was then the C&B Italia company (now B&B Italia), working with Piero Ambrogio Busnelli, owner and chairman of the company. She became the correspondent/representative in Italy for several Conde Nast Publications: French Maison & Jardin, Vogue Decoration, American House & Garden and American Vogue. For eight years she organised the textile show Incontri Venezia-Fabrics for Furnishing in Venice, Italy. From 1990 she’s been directing the International Press Office for Salone del Mobile.Milano. From the first 1998 edition she founded and continues to curate SaloneSatellite, a special event within the Milan’s Salone Internazionale del Mobile that represents a showcase for young creative designers and graduate-to-be students from universities and design schools from all over the world. In May 2014, she received the Premio COMPASSO D’ORO XXIII ALLA CARRIERA. In 2005 she created SaloneSatellite Moscow as an homage to young designers from Russia and neighbour countries.In 2016 she created SaloneSatellite Shanghai began an homage to young designers from China. Since 2001 she is a member of the Philip Johnson Architecture and Design Committee at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMa), New York.

Italian Design Ambassador

© Marva Griffin

Since December 2016 she is Italian Design Ambassador, named by the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, the Italian Ministry of Cultural Heritage and Activities and Tourism, the Italian Ministry of Economic Development together with Triennale Design Museum, travelling every year in the month of March to different countries to promote the Italian Design Day. In March 2014 she was named Expo 2015 WE-Women Ambassador for the 2015 Universal Exhibition hold in the city of Milan. On 7 December 2017, date of the Patron of the city of Milan, she has been awarded with the Milan’s most prestigious AMBROGINO D’ORO. On 7 September 2021, she was awarded the Honorary Master's Degree in Product Service System Design by Politecnico di Milano.

Jury Statement

“With her commitment to the development and expansion of the SaloneSatellite since its foundation in 1998, Marva Griffin has given more than 13,000 design talents visibility on the international stage of the Milan Furniture Fair, which remains the most important international show for young design today. She has become the godmother of young designers, and has created a unique platform for them to network on an international level and to gain a foothold in the design business. With an enormous amount of passion and love for design, the interior designer and former assistant to Piero Ambrogio Busnelli, founder of B&B Italia (known as C&B Italia at the time) has evolved into a renowned exhibition organiser. Marva Griffin herself has become a creator of creators, and has established a platform in SaloneSatellite that provides visibility to young authors of design and strong concepts, and drives innovation.”

Brand of the Year 2023: Vestre Sustainability Pioneer in Furniture Manufacturing

© Daniel Banner

Vestre’s ambition is to be recognised as the world’s most sustainable furniture manufacturer. Vestre believes that focusing on quality is the only sustainable way forward over time. While it used to be taken for granted that quality was to be valued and things should be repaired when they broke, it is apparent that present-day products have a much shorter lifespan. We live in a throwaway society. Therefore, when Vestre wants to be at the cutting edge of developments towards a zero-emission society, this will involve drawing inspiration from the past and developing good solutions where they do not already exist. Vestre has linked their ambition to contribute to positive change to nine of the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

The family business Vestre was established in 1947 and, through its park furniture, helped to create more inclusive and open public spaces across Norway. The benches that were delivered in the early 1950s, for example to Rådhusplassen in Haugesund, to this day are testament to the qualities of design and durability that were established from the very start of Vestre’s existence.

Sustainability Pioneer

Photo by Matteo Gastel

For more than 75 years, Vestre has continued to create urban furniture with a unique and beautiful design. Their goal is to ensure that everything we do enriches people’s lives, and has a long life and the least possible impact on the environment. This is only possible if we work with the right people. Many of Scandinavia’s leading designers have helped to create social meeting places which offer room for short breaks and chance meetings in urban environments around the world. By 2050, 70 percent of us will live in a city—and as cities become increasingly crowded, public meeting places will become ever more important. With the opening of The Plus in the forests of Magnor, Vestre is taking a giant stride into the future. This is the largest investment in the Norwegian furniture industry for decades. The factory will be a global showcase for sustainability and highly efficient manufacturing. Nature, the architecture signed BIG—Bjarke Ingels Group and the Forest Camp recreation area will also help to develop the location into an attractive destination for visitors from around the world.

Jury Statement

Photo by Einar Aslaksen

“The Norwegian brand “Vestre” stands for contemporary furniture design and a particularly sustainable brand development. Management within the family business that is as passionate as it is wise has strengthened the brand for 70 years. Today the company is one of the furniture industry’s pioneers in terms of sustainability, with CO2 neutral production in its own factory and exceptional commitment to positive climate development. The brand not only stands for outstanding quality and environmental sustainability, but also for “Social Design” in particular. The Norwegian manufacturer’s outdoor furniture has an equally decisive influence on the development of urban spaces, bringing people together and the design discourse. “