For Milan Design Week 2023, GUBI took over the city’s iconic Bagni Misteriosi to stage an immersive sensory spectacle. In the heart of Porto Romana, GUBI SALONE 2023 brought together cutting-edge contemporary creativity with timeless icons of 20th-century design. Unfolding in one of Milan’s most magical places, GUBI’s 2023 spectacle marked the ‘the Mysterious Baths’’ debut as a design venue, sending visitors on a flowing, multi-layered, and mystery-filled journey of discovery.

One of the brand’s grandest Milan events to date, GUBI’s Salone showcase brought together multiple design stories under one vast roof – and beyond it. As well as presenting GUBI’s expanding alfresco universe of furniture and lighting through the indoor/outdoor theme ‘Under the Sun’, Bagni Misteriosi also played host to TEN: Beyond the Beetle, a special exhibition curated by Marco Sammicheli that paid creative tribute to an iconic GUBI piece, unveiling 10 multi-disciplinary artistic responses to the Beetle Chair by GamFratesi. 

“GUBI SALONE 2023 will invite visitors to embark on a multi-layered sensory journey through our evolving lifestyle vision. Here in one of Milan’s most extraordinary, atmospheric, and magical venues, our showcase will unfold and expand upon GUBI’s alfresco design universe and celebrate the iconic Beetle while evoking a sense of magic and mystery.” Marie Kristine Schmidt, Chief Brand Officer, GUBI

Alongside exciting new launches from contemporary design studios, GUBI SALONE 23 also marked the official return to production of masterpieces from two of the luminaries of 20th-century lighting design: virtuoso Italian designer Gianfranco Frattini, and ‘the man who illuminated Finland’, Paavo Tynell.


Ten years ago, young design studio GamFratesi unveiled a creative experiment at Salone, and – unknowingly at the time – secured a place in design history. Now, a decade on, GUBI celebrates GamFratesi’s Beetle Chair with a one of-a-kind exhibition. Showing only at GUBI SALONE 2023, TEN hands GamFratesi’s pioneering design concept over to ten global creatives and invites them to run wild with it.

In ‘Real Beetle in Epoxy’, artist Frank Maria re-interprets the Beetle as an archaeological sculpture encrusted with mineral sediments and adorned with original tattoo designs and micro-landscapes. The beetle’s exoskeleton is constructed from wood and paper, with an acrylic paint coating, held within a 120×120 cm casing in wood and plexiglass.

When it made its first appearance in Milan as a prototype, the Beetle was never intended to be a commercial product but, discovered by GUBI and developed for production, it proved a phenomenal success, and has evolved to become a modern design classic.

In the ‘Oca Chair’, fashion designer Arthur Arbesser pays homage to the late master of Italian design, Enzo Mari. Arbesser has transformed the seat and backrest of the Beetle into the snapping bill of a goose, while the base references Mari’s cement panettone dispersed all over the Milan cityscape.

“One of the most significant pieces in the history of our practice, the Beetle has shaped both our careers and our design language.” Stine Gam and Enrico Fratesi of GamFratesi

Fashion designer Simon Wick offers up a ‘(di)ssected Beetle’. The deconstructed seat is reassembled with layers of GUBI’s surplus textiles and upholstery offcuts, as well as packaging materials such as cardboard and plastic. Taken as a whole, the piece gives form to the complexity of the production process behind such a seemingly simple and compact object as the Beetle Chair.


GUBI presents the Carmel Table Collection by OeO Studio

Inspired by OEO Studio’s travels on the Pacific Coast, the new Carmel Table Collection introduces a new material to GUBI – ceramic – and a burst of vivid Californian colour and energy to homes and gardens. With particular reference to the carefree, easy-going and unconventional lifestyle of the famously bohemian and artistic resort town of Carmel-by the-Sea, OEO has developed a collection of coffee tables in different heights and sizes, full of colour and personality.

“Much of the inspiration for Carmel comes from living in California, spending weekends driving down the coastline, all the way from San Francisco down to Baja California. Exploring nature, architecture, and culture. Nothing beats driving down Big Sur, passing Henry Miller’s house, chilling in Santa Barbara and architecture-watching around Los Angeles. The beautiful scenic views, desert landscapes, and the use of colour in Mexican architecture.” Thomas Lykke, designer and co-founder of OEO Studio


GUBI presents the MR01 Initial Outdoor Lounge Chair by Mathias Steen Rasmussen

With its low-slung wooden frame and nautically evocative rope seat and backrest, designer and woodworker Mathias Steen Rasmussen’s breakthrough MR01 Initial Lounge Chair has begged to be taken outside since its creation. Two years after launching the indoor version, Rasmussen
and GUBI have responded to demand and developed a new variant in iroko wood, specially constructed for use outdoors.

Rasmussen conceived the MR01 as a lounge chair that could be used while meditating – a comfortable, gently inclined, low lounge seat in which one could relax, feet to the floor, and relish the calming sensation of floating while remaining grounded. The lightweight chair was always
intended to be versatile and nomadic, traveling easily around the home as the user wishes. With the addition of the MR01 Initial Outdoor Lounge Chair, the comfort, flexibility, and sculptural beauty of Rasmussen’s ground-breaking design can now be enjoyed outside. 

“I always saw the MR01 Initial Chair working as a hybrid between in- and outdoors, so I’m very happy to launch the outdoor edition with GUBI. I hope people will discover the nomadic aspects of the design – that they will move it around, creating new spaces to dive into and relax that will bring them closer to nature.” Mathias Steen Rasmussen, designer


GUBI presents the Satellite Outdoor Collection by Mathieu Matégot

GUBI’s introduction of a dedicated portable version of Space Copenhagen’s Seine lighting concept allows lovers of design to bring its magical, mood-setting play of light into any space, effortlessly moving between indoors and out as they desire.

“The Seine design transitions perfectly to a portable version – it feels easy and effortless to use as a lantern for many purposes. We love that the handle is a part of the body of the lamp itself, and that it feels genuine, refined and sturdy, even though it is truly flexible.” Signe Bindslev Henriksen and Peter Bundgaard Rützou, Designers, Space Copenhagen

Inspired by the behaviour of light on moving water, Seine draws on the layering and blurring effects of glass to practically illuminate spaces while creating a dreamy and reflective atmosphere. By making the design mobile, Space Copenhagen has created the ultimate modern lantern, taking portable lighting to a new level of elegance and craftsmanship.


About Alys Bryan

Alys is a knowledgeable design editor who is focused on instigating conversations, both online and in-person, with industry experts which challenge, educate and advance the commercial interior sector. Her training and 15 years of professional experience as a furniture designer for the commercial sector makes her uniquely placed to lead Design Insider as Editor
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