Mmmmama Missoni!

Rosita Missoni, who co-founded the Missoni empire with her husband 62 years ago, will talk about her creative longevity at Design Indaba Conference 2015.

When newly-weds Ottavio and Rosita Missoni launched their eponymous knitwear business in a small workshop in 1953, they had little inkling of the empire their enterprise would become. Just over 60 years and two generations later – with all three of their children playing leading roles and granddaughter Margherita now designing accessories – Missoni has become the “first famiglia” of Italian design with offshoots from fashion into homeware and hotels and various brand collaborations.  

The driving spirit on which Missoni’s entire ethos has been built has come from Mama Missoni herself, Rosita – now about to turn 83 and still a vital creative force in the company. She will speak about her journey and inspirations at Design Indaba Conference 2015 (alongside fellow speakers William Kentridge, Dan Wieden, Hella Jongerius and others).


Book to hear Rosita Missoni speak at Design Indaba Conference 2015, which takes place from 25 to 27 February 2015.

A huge part of Missoni’s success and following can be put down to its clear and consistent devotion to lush pattern and luxuriant colour – nowhere more apparent than in its trademark pattern: the zigzag. It has emblazoned it on everything from bicycles to toiletry bags, couture coats to cut-price diffusion collections. But the exuberance of Missoni’s signature style has its counterpart in an expansive attitude to finding life beyond the parent fashion brand.
Rosita and Tai, as Ottavio was known before his death in 2013, designed costumes for the opera Lucia di Lammermoor starring Luciano Pavarotti at La Scala in 1983. All 120 costumes, inspired by the colours and patterns of Scotland, were produced in their workshop in Sumirago in northern Italy.
The fashion house also created dazzling costumes using vivid African-inspired patterns in primary colours for the opening ceremony of the 1990 World Soccer Championship in Milan, “Italia 90”.
Rosita handed the fashion reigns over to her daughter Angela in 1998, opting to pursue her passion for starting Missoni Home in 2004. She designs a lot of the collections herself, guided by her philosophy that “the home is alive… It’s constantly evolving and never finished”. Missoni Home’s 2015 collection, recently presented at Maison et Objet, focusses on abstracted florals. The Lilium Multicolour collection, designed by Rosita, is a busier feature design complementing the homeware line’s more classic patterns.
“Furnishing my way means creating a habitat that’s ordered yet informal, versatile and welcoming,” says Rosita. “My home is always open to encounters or people just passing through, the family’s comings and goings, and for when friends and acquaintances unexpectedly drop in. It must evoke emotions and curiosity; it has to become an oasis of colours and moods, a snug shell full of appealing, unusual elements in out-of-the-mould arrangements...”
The brand has quickly expanded from textiles to furnishings sporting the same intricate use of pattern. In addition to printed, embroidered or jacquard fabrics, there is now a full range of products for the home, both for use indoors and outdoors.
In 2009 Rosita oversaw the opening of the first Hotel Missoni in Edinburgh. Hotels have since opened in Dubai and Kuwait too. She designed the interiors, using furniture by Eero Saarinen, Marcel Wanders and Arne Jacobsen, featuring the line's dizzying zigzags, stripes and flowers throughout.
The brand has had numerous partnerships on products with other brands, including Converse, Havaianas, Swedish flooring company Bolon (for whom it designed woven coverings that were launched on the runway during its Spring 2014 collection show at Milan Fashion Week), Design Within Reach (for whom it created the Paulistano chair), and even Pellegrino.
But undoubtedly the most well-known are its two collections for mass-market chain Target, in 2011 and 2014. The first collection was an epic 400-piece range of homeware, fashion and stationery – the chain’s biggest limited-designer collection to date. It was supposed to last for six weeks but sold out in one day. The latter range, for Target Australia, also created a frenzy that resulted in the store’s website crashing due to demand. It seems the world can't get enough of Missoni.

Watch the Trailer with Rosita Missoni