With over 70,000 people descending on Miami for Art Basel Miami Beach, its no wonder that the buzz surrounding the Design Miami sister show is getting louder with every year. This year's strong showing represented the increasingly international nature of the design business—the gallery list including Galerie BSL from Paris, Spazio Rossana Orlandi of Milan and Victor Hunt from Brussels alongside American favorites R20th Century and Cristina Grajales.
Primitive forms and the wonders of mother nature inspired designers to create objects of bizarre beauty. Nacho Carbonell's otherworldly works were as dramatic as Design Nucelo's monolithic metal tables that paid homage to the bronze age. Crystals and geodes continue to fascinate designers like Hella Jongerius and emerging-ceramicist Charlotte Cornaton with their spiritual properties and natural variations.
UUfie - Peacock L (at top) Spazio Rossana Orlandi, Design Miami
Canadian-based UUfie crafted the dramatic Peacock chair from a single sheet of Corian. The mesmerizing grid casts a lovely shadow and a theatrical profile for its debut at Design Miami.
Hella Jongerius - Gemstone Side Table Gallery Kreo, Design Miami
The iconic Dutch designer was inspired by the depths of color that occurs in natural stones like agate and malachite. Layers of translucent resin and plywood stack to form a revealing cross-section for this asymmetrical table.
Studio Job - Monkey Business Carpenter's Workshop Gallery, Design Miami
A Swarovski-studded monkey wearing a fez stands guard over a brass treasure chest. It's not a scene from an Indiana Jones movie; it's the latest conversation-starter from Belgian designers Studio Job. An embedded LED hints at what treasures might lie inside the chest.
Richard Phillips - The Playboy Charger Venus Over Manhattan Presents Piston Head, 1111 Lincoln Road
Ferrari's art car show in the Herzog & de Meuron-designed 1111 Lincoln Road explores how artists like Keith Haring, Damien Hirst, Tom Sachs and Ron Arad have transformed the beloved automobile into sculptural works. The exhibition also included the first viewing of artist Richard Phillips' collaboration with Playboy, the "Playboy Charger."
Kvadrat Soft Cell panels line the entrance of the Moroso showroom
Celebrating Patricia Urquiola's first textile collection for Kvadrat, a feast of the senses was organized at Moroso's Milan showroom during Salone. Entering through a hallway lit with the dynamic glow of Kvadrat's Soft Cell panels, guests were welcome into the main showroom where rotating columns of embroidered fabrics were hung around the circumference of the space.
The Revolving Room honored a spirit of collaboration—between Urquiola, Moroso, Kvadrat and Philips—as a showcase of the myriad possibilities for textile application. The Urquiola-designed Kvadrat collection was the filter on the acoustic lighting panels, an embroidered skin on the rotating architectural columns, the fabric on Moroso furniture and a material transformed into bowls and inspiring food design by I'm a KOMBO for the communal table.
Kvadrat Soft Cells are large architectural acoustic panels with integrated multi-colored LED lights. These "Luminous Textiles" provide an ambient glow of light filtered through the textures of Kvatdrat fabrics. The modular panels are based on a patented aluminum frame with a concealed tensioning mechanism which keeps the surface of the fabric taut, unaffected by humidity or temperature.
The magic of the panels lies in Philips' LED technology which allows architects to control content, color and movement projected from the panels. The Kvadrat textiles provide tactility and sound absorption qualities even when the Soft Cells are static.
Core77 had an opportunity to speak with Urquiola on the collaboration with Kvadrat on the occasion of the collection debut. As the first designer to create a collection for the Soft Cells panels, we were interested in learn more about the process of designing across different mediums and working with light.
From left to right: Anders Byriel, Patricia Urquiola, Patrizia Moroso
Core77: This is your first time designing textiles for Kvadrat. What was your design process like and how was it different than designing furniture?
Patricia Urquiola: We worked in two ways. The first process started with the idea of "applying memory," to create a fabric that looks like its been worn with time. This fabric will not get older in a bad way because it is already "worn." The passage of time will be good for contrast.
The other idea was to work with digital patterns. We have been working with ceramics as part of my research in the studio for a long time. Part of these patterns were in my mind as we were searching for new tiling designs. I am working with Mutina, where I am the art director, and we're trying not to work in color—exploring bas relief and a treatment of the tiling.
One pattern is a kind of matrix—its kind of a jacquard. We're working with a classic technique in a cool wool, but in the end, you have this connection with a digital world. The contrast of the jacquard is sometimes quite strong and sometimes more muted—you can see and then not see the matrix.
And then there was the possibility to work velvet—opaque and quite elegant. We use a digital laser cut technique. They are patterns but not. They give an element to the fabric but they are still and quiet.
These are digital techniques but the process to create all three patterns was quite complicated. I'm happy because we explored three complex processes but they turned out amazing.
Alessandro Mendini reflects the playfulness of Alessi in a miniature town set on a backdrop of futurist painter Gerardo Dottori's work.
In this year's deep-dive into Italian design history, Milan's Triennale Design Museum staged The Syndrome of Influence a three-part exhibition asking contemporary designers to reflect and interpret the work of historic Italian designers and brands. Progressing from post-war Italian designers to the continued work of current Italian manufacturers, the exhibition's emphasis was more on exhibition design rather than the showcase of specific objects.
ZANUSO stamped aluminum plates litter the gallery floor.
Beginning with the period immediately following the second World War, curator Silvana Annicchiarico tapped and impressive roster of young Italian designers to create homages to the giants of post-war Italian design. Of the ten installations, which also included work by Martino Gamper/Gio Ponti, Italo Rota/Joe Colombo and Studio Formafantasma/Robert Sambonet, my favorite was from Blumerandfriends. In their installation for the editor, designer and architect Marco Zanuso, they ask attendees to push a button, a trigger that starts a short video loop on a television—soon a countdown clock starts up and the strange industrial box mounted on the wall lights up. An explosion of compressed air accompanies the expulsion of a thin sheet of stamped aluminum with the word ZANUSO. As aluminum plates mound on the floor of the exhibition, the critique is clear: although Zanuso and his contemporaries were huge proponents of industrial production as a means for creating a better world, the limits of this perspective are now quite clear.
In Alessandro Scandurra's ode to Ettore Sottsass, Scandurra wallpapers a room with the boldness of Indian iconography. Focusing on Sottsass' transformational experience in India, Sottsass projects a flash of totemic inspiration between stills of Sottsass' work.
Matilde Cassni and Francesco Librizzi's tribute to Bruno Munari's Useless Machines was a crowd favorite—attendees would traverse the room, hanging on rods, and becoming part of the installation.
Paolo Ulian interprets the work of Vico Magistretti. The shadows on the wall assume the, "threadlike appearance" of Magistretti's work.
Studio Formafantasma's tribute Roberto Sambonet's tableware and kitchenware.
Renault and British designer Ross Lovegrove unveiled the Twin'Z, an all-electric cabon-fiber concept car at Milan's Triennale Design Museum last week. The electric motor on the Twin'Z is rear-mounted and the four 96-V lithium batteries are hidden in the floor of the car; according to Gizmag, "driving motivation to the rear wheels is done by 50kW (68hp) of power and 226 Nm of torque...[and] can achieve a top speed of 130 km/h (80.7 mph)." Reflective of Lovegrove's design language, the car's compact and organic form also draws from the French manufacturer's most emblematic models like the Renault 5 and Twingo.
The Twin'Z is designed for the city-driver in mind—the backseats are integrated into the floorplan and the dashboard is replaced by a smartphone connection to create more space in the cabin. Electric hinges on the front and back suicide doors eliminates the need for the central B-pillar allowing for further access for loading things and people in and out of the car.
As people travel from around the globe to Milan for the annual design shows, Tom Dixon and adidas have teamed up to show us "everything-you-can-pack-neatly-in-a-bag-for-a-week-away."
The timely launch of The Capsule collection during the busiest travel season on the design calendar, heralds a two-year partnership between the product designer and the sportswear company. The first apparel collection from Tom Dixon, The Capsule premieres new typologies of bags, apparel and footwear. The foundation of the collection is two travel bags—a hard and soft case—"an experiment in capsule thinking in which luggage unclasps, unzips and unfolds to reveal multiple layers."
As with Tom Dixon's design ethos for his furniture and lighting collections, removing a layer often reveals the pieces of a kit of parts—in this case, unzipping the luggage reveals foundation apparel that can be layered as a complete wardrobe for every possible occasion. Workwear and technical sportswear are clear influences on the collection. Reversible shirt-jacket, Work trousers, jumper and a boiler suit were favorites. Accessories including a folding camp bed, down coat sleeping bag, traveller wallet and compartment bag round out the collection. Suede and canvas boots, shoes and more traditional espadrilles give a traveler four-seasons of footwear to choose from.