Live at the New MOHD Milan Showroom, featuring BURST

Tom Chats live with Gianluca Mollura, CEO of MOHD


A conversation between Tom Dixon and Gianluca Mollura, the CEO of iconic Milanese lighting and furniture showroom, MOHD, where the new Tom Dixon BURST chandelier will be on display. They discuss 60 years of Milan Design Week, latest collections - including HYDRO and BURST, life after covid and philosophy...


Gianluca Mollura: Hi, Tom!

Tom Dixon: Can you hear me in Milan?

GM: Can you hear me?

TD: Ciao, Gianluca. Can you hear me?

GM: Ciao, Tom!

TD: Ok, that’s more like it.

GM: Ok! Now I can hear you.

TD: This is the problem (gestures to earphones).

GM: Ah, ok! Perfect! So, we have solved this problem. We go to the next now.

TD: Yeah, we go low-tech. So, um, you know there’s half a million people all over the world that are wishing they could be in Milan right now enjoying the Salone and the Fuorisalone, and so we’re really a bit depressed, but obviously we’re doing our best to be present in Milan, um, in a digital format, and, um, you’ve invited us into your showroom, so tell me a bit more.

GM: Yes, of course, we feel – We miss all those people in Milan, and of course Milan is still missing a very important part, but we are sure that soon everything will become normal. This is our showroom. Can you see something about you?

TD: Oh yeah! Excellent!

GM: This is a special board that we have made for you to celebrate, and this is something more about your products. You can see the nice panorama with your new creation. One moment – I try to turn my cam, but – Ok, do you see now?

TD: No! (laughs) Yeah, I can see – I can see the BURST Chandelier.

GM: Yes, I’m going this way because I am not finding how to turn my cam, so this is a bit more from your collection that we are now in display in our showroom in Milan, and how we work for many years together, no? So, I can just, every year, we are very surprised from the capacity to create something that is a real impressive, so, Tom, thanks for this, and we have put the new BURST in our space, no?

TD: Amazing! It’s great to hear! Great to see it for the first time in Milan.

GM: Yes, something more, yes. Yes. Everybody comes from the window. Can you see? Because our showroom is in Via Turati, so it’s in the centre of the city, and everybody look in the window ask “What about this?” because it’s really – It’s really strong.

TD: Yeah, well thank you. I mean the idea behind BURST is really to do something which is a – a monumental lamp, you know? Um, very often people buy many individual lamps from us and hang them in chandelier format. This time we wanted to make something which was, um, already a chandelier. So we have twelve – Twelve Globes on one – On one framework, all exploding from a central point, um, to make BURST, so it’s a huge, huge lamp, um, but of course, with LEDs it uses very little electricity and puts out quite a lot of lighting as well.

GM: Yes, yes, but I think that it can be used in different ways, no? So, from contract to domestic. So this is what – Yes, of course, nice domestic, no? No, no, something a bit ‘uncommon domestic’, but it’s really nice, the effect of light that it gives to the ambience, no? So it’s a very relaxing, but also very interesting as a – As a light.

TD: Ok, it’s the first time I’ve heard it described as relaxing, but yeah – It’s good if you think so.

GM: Yes, it is! Yes, I think so, but what about – Can I ask you something about the last year, Tom?

TD: Yes!

GM: Yes, because before we spoke about this, no? And I told the people that work with us in our showroom that I was – What happened in the last twelve months, no? Due to the pandemic – Because of the pandemic is of course a very bad thing, but how everything in the life that is also in our face is the opportunity to create, to have a new feeling, a new sensation, no? So, to be honest, knowing you I am a bit curious about the process in the last twelve months, so the fact that you stay in your studio to think, to feel, no? How – What about this?

TD: Okay, well you know there was a lot of, um, warning because we saw the pandemic starting in China and slowly coming across, and of course you had it for two months before it hit the UK, so we kind of knew, but we didn’t really take any, um, action at all until it was too late, right? So it was still a very big shock to us when we had to close everything down. You know here in London, just like in Milan, we have a restaurant, so the restaurants were the most obvious casualty of the pandemic, and they’ve been pretty much closed for, um, for a year. We flipped that very quickly to make a greengrocer selling hot food and vegetables which was kind of interesting, but then we had to organise everybody working from home which was a lot of logistic problems, but interestingly, although the restaurant’s been, you know, zero, um, zero business, our interior design has continued pretty much as it was the year before which is extraordinary, because last year we were mainly working on restaurants and hotels. So, um, so it’s extraordinary that the home sector has stayed a bit more robust than some other businesses. You wouldn’t wanna be in airlines at the moment for instance, right? And then we’ve spent the time, um, you know, innovating a bit and, you know, still thinking of new ideas. I went and stayed in the countryside for a while which was kind of interesting and refreshing. It made me think of a lot of ideas around, um, more local production and things like that. We worked a lot with a Norwegian company to make a new chair as well which is this chair from -

GM: Yes!

TD: - Which is called HYDRO which is, you know, a new innovation of ours so that was a lot of hard work and we’re quite proud -

GM: It’s really very, very light, no?

TD: It’s ‘super leggera’!

GM: Super leggera! Yes, ‘Super Leggera’ is a famous name in the international design, but this is the new ‘Super Leggera’, yes.

TD: Well, I hope so, so you know, so we’ve been busy basically and, um, you know, you’re busy saving your business, you’re busy being creative about how you can find new ways to operate in the new world, and of course, for designers, change is always interesting, um, but of course it’s also been a big disaster for a lot of, um, our friends and you know, for, um, for normal life as well, and of course not coming to Milan, for us, is also a bit of a disaster –

GM: Yes!

TD: Because it’s the sixtieth-year anniversary of the Salone and we should be there in the sunshine eating the amazing Milanese food, but we’re not. So, I’m very depressed basically.

GM: But now the restaurant in London is open, right?

TD: It opened yesterday, um, and so, but only outside.

GM: So, you have had your first dinner in the restaurant again in London?

TD: Yeah, we’re able to eat outside and it’s snowing.

GM: How was it – The menu – The menu yesterday?

TD: The menu’s been updated.

GM: They change something after the pandemic, or everything’s come normal?

TD: Well nothing’s normal. I mean we’ve had a pandemic and we’ve also had Brexit, you know, so Brexit has actually had quite an impact also on the price of vegetables –

GM: Yes?

TD: But also the availability of some things. I mean even Milan is important to the British luxury restaurant market because it has the amazing market and quite a lot of product comes to us from Milan actually, so we’ve had two really big problems this year, you know?

GM: Yes, yes. yes! But anyway, um, we are – We have installed the BURST right some hours ago, no? We finished the installation some hours ago, and there was, because with Brexit also some shipments was a bit – A bit slow, you know? But, um -

TD: A bit slow? It was a disaster!

GM: Yeah, it’s the second disaster maybe yes, but now, at last, everything’s go well, so this is a positive. A positive message I think, no? And, um, what – What about Salone is there? Why – When you plan to come in Milan? In September, or maybe you come before?

TD: I come as soon as I’m allowed to come, you know. I mean, it’s been almost two year now and of course, you know, Italy is important for Salone, but Salone is not just the whole of Milan, right? And we know there’s so many things going on there: Art and Fashion and Architecture, and, um, of course there’s a lot of industry around Milan as well which fuels the whole business, so we’ve got a lot of, um, work to do in the region, so I’m very anxious to come. I think, obviously, um, with the quarantine business it makes it more difficult, but I should be there before September anyway and we’ll definitely, um, we’ll definitely come physically, um, with some of these new ideas in September, yeah.

GM: Yes, we are hoping – We are waiting for September, also if Milan anyway is always very dynamic, no, in creativity? So I think that this is something that never stops, so it’s the most important, um, the most nice elements in Milan, because when you walk in the streets of Milan you have a lot of inspiration, and so we are all waiting for a turn.

TD: Yeah, well it’s not such a problem. I mean, I remember the first time I came to Milan, um, it was in September anyway. I mean, the first time the Salone – My first experience of the Salone – It was a September show anyway, so maybe it’s not such a big, um, change after all. Maybe it’s just Back to the Future.

GM: Yes, I agree, I agree! Maybe we are – September is coming back, no, because one time it was in September of course. Of course, and the, um, there are a lot of possibilities in September I think, with the new – After all this, when all this will be – Will finish, I think that there is – There will be a very nice period for design especially, no? Do you think? Because everybody else is really – Want really to look new things, to find new way.

TD: Well I think – I think you have amazing positivity. You know in the UK we’re probably slightly more depressive, you know, but what’s interesting I think is that, um, also the very beginning of Milan’s design, um, design journey, um, it was a ‘bi annuale’ or even a ‘tri annuale’, I can’t remember. It was every two years anyway and I think, you know, for, um, for some people, every year is quite a big commitment, you know, financially, but also coming up with new ideas every year, so I think, by leaving it one year, or every two years, there’ll be a natural, um, rejuvenation because people will have had more time to think of more new ideas, so it will be very refreshing – Salone with a lot more, um, unique content that nobody’s seen before, right?

GM: Right, yes. Yes, this is true. We are positive, but we are depressive too. There is depressive – Depression here too, no? But depression is a wasted feeling, so we are positive because we want to be, um, to be negative at the test, but positive in mind, no? So continue to think and to believe that tomorrow will be better, so as I told you in our private phone: I think that you want to need the positivity, but depressive too, and the peoples that how you make, create, really always new things that lets – Lets make everything seem interesting beauty, no? So, this is – This is from where our positive come.

TD: Ok, well that’s why I love Italy: because of the, um, philosophy of life right. (Laughs)

GM: (Laughs) Yes, we need philosophy too, yes, of course.

TD: Is that – It that where – Are you a philosopher? Is that what you trained as?

GM: What, Tom?

TD: Are you a philosopher?

GM: Yes! We – I am trying to change a bit, no? Because before I make the signed project, now I am going more philosophy. This is after twelve months staying at home, no? But I think you are philosopher too because your creativity is a bit, no? I am – I have here your – Look! On the kitchen! This is my – my view.

TD: Ok. Is that design philosophy?

GM: This is the last -

TD: Ok. That’s amazing. Thank you very much for the presentation. Yeah, so you know we’re doing 24 Hours in Milan which is a new format we’ve invented to try and go beyond - Just the usual thing we do in Milan is just to take a space, an unusual space, and then invite everybody in, so it’s been kind of nice to come to you and to see your showroom for a change, right?

GM: Yes, we –

TD: How long – How long have you been in business?

GM: How much?

TD: How long? How long has MOHD been –

GM: Our company exists from fifty-two years.

TD: Oh my god!

GM: So we are now in Milan from last September, so we opened our showroom in Milan last September, and we are going now to plan new things always in Milan, but, um, this is – We – Our company is in this market from always – From three generations, and so maybe we was your first partner in Italy. I remember when we first started to work with you, the first experience, so – So now everything’s different, but this is something from the first days – The first time I ever meet – I ever met you, I immediately loved your creations and this is, um, why we are always – You are always in our old showroom, we have some Tom Dixon products.

TD: Really?

GM: Yes, really!

TD: Good! Well thank you very much for the support. Um, ok, so thank you again for inviting me to your showroom. I think, um, it’s – It’ll be so much nicer to meet in person again, so we’ll make a date for September, yeah?

GM: Yeah, of course! Of course, we wait to you – For you, Tom!

TD: Ok, A presto!

GM: A presto! Ciao, Tom!

TD: Thank you very much, ciao!

GM: See you soon, bye!