Incipit: Milan’s New Lab for Designers

By Patrick Sisson
A studio, a lab, and a business—Incipit aims to be all three, but, most importantly, a new way to support young craftspeople.

When Italian designers and entrepreneurs Roberto Hoz and Marta Bernstein established Incipit in Milan in early 2013, they wanted to create a design studio with specific principles in mind: nurturing young talent, sharing skills and business acumen, and promoting and pushing young designers into the spotlight.

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Muslet by Ilaria Innocenti for Incipit"These bowls take inspiration—and their name—from the cage used to block a champagne cork," says Innocenti.

A little more than a year later, their concept will come full circle. The work of three young designers they sought out and recruited—Ilaria Innocenti, Philippe Tabet, and Tommaso Caldera—will premiere as part of Incipit’s show at Ventura Lambrate at Milan Design Week in April. According to the designers, Incipit has created an environment that fosters an ongoing dialogue between emerging and established designers, who help in all facets of creation from techniques to promotion, and shown a new way to collaborate.

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Muslet by Ilaria Innocenti for Incipit"It wasn't easy to find a good craftsman in Italy doing the kind of piece I wanted for my project," says Innocenti, "After experimenting with a lot of alternative solutions, we found a small company that could curve metal wire in a very flexible way in terms of production and quality."

Muslet by Ilaria Innocenti for Incipit"It wasn't easy to find a good craftsman in Italy doing the kind of piece I wanted for my project," says Innocenti, "After experimenting with a lot of alternative solutions, we found a small company that could curve metal wire in a very flexible way in terms of production and quality."

"They approached me without a defined brief, but with a strong idea of what kind of company they’d like to be," says Tomasso Caldera, who is showcasing Pita, a sleek mortar made from white Carrara marble. "[Incipit’s] unconventional structure immediately impressed me."

Muslet by Ilaria Innocenti for Incipit

Muslet by Ilaria Innocenti for Incipit

Philippe Tabet, who designed the stylized Louis coin bank, likened the idea to a bottega, and said Hoz was always ready to help, showcasing production techniques. Every Incipit item is made strictly by Italian factories and artisans. The entire process has given each of the designers great exposure, but it’s the learning process that’s proven to be the most valuable part.

Ilaria Innocenti

Ilaria Innocenti

"This is a great opportunity to see what happens ‘behind the scenes,’" says Ilaria Innocenti, whose Muslet ceramic dishes feature a bright shock of copper steel bent like a cage on a champagne bottle. "Incipit has a good network of people from many different areas of design: photographers, suppliers, marketing consultants. At each step of the project, I met different professionals sharing their own specific skills. Now I'm working with some of them on other projects."