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.
What are the possibilities when a 140-year-old brand starts acting like a startup? Mark van Iterson, Heineken's Global Head of Design, gave us a sneak peek of The Magazzini, a pop-up experience exploring design and nightlife culture staged during this year's Milan design week. "Beer is emotion," van Iterson shares, and The Magazzini is an embodiment of Heineken's commitment to design—a playground for innovative ideas in nightlife.
Open from 2PM–2AM daily, The Magazzini will host capsule exhibitions from London-based Designersblock x Arts Thread and Amsterdam-based Tuttobene, which is celebrating 10 years in Milan. Daily programming from Pecha Kucha and Cool Hunting featuring Yves Behar, Alex Mustonen (Snarkitecture) and Luca Nichetto will include beer breaks, of course, along will special workshops from new media designer Joshua Davis and "vectorfunk" artist Matt W. Moore.
The brand is even experimenting with "beer cocktails" using fresh ingredients. Try a Heineken on tap infused with a kick of fresh red chills, the cooling properties of muddled mint or the herbal brightness of lemongrass at their center bar.
The people behind the upcoming Interaction14 conference invite you to attend a panel discussion in Milan on the "Long View of Interaction Design."
On Monday 8 April at 6 p.m. (on the eve of the Salone del Mobile), Claudio Moderini, Fabio Sergio, Jan-Christoph Zoels and Todd S. Harple will debate with Alok Nandi on how to design for those interaction design challenges that go beyond the immediate consumer product/service launch cycle.
What if your interaction design has to be integrated in a hospital or a building or a city? How do you design if your creation has to last 10, 20 or even more years into the future? What tools can you use as an interaction designer? How do you make it adaptive and resilient? How to avoid obsolescence?
Anna Meroni, Assistant professor of service and strategic design, Polytechnic University of Milan (IT)
Not that it wasn't relevant a month ago—after all, I happened upon the daring Danes during their pop-up studio during the Salone—but the guerrilla ethos of the DENNIS Design Center has taken on an ethical significance in light of the recent events surrounding designer Takeshi Miyakawa's (benign) intervention on the occasion of the ICFF in New York. (For my part, I plead guilty to a regrettable delay in saving the best for last: the mobile workshop was easily my top pick for Zona Tortona and certainly one of the best in show during the Salone this year.)
Looks cool, but what does it actually do? Well, a lot more than your average exhibitor in Milan: the DENNIS Design Center is a "newly started platform for urban design studies," working "across disciplines [to introduce] new and diverse atmospheres into the streets of Milan, inspired by the local population and its surroundings."
During the project in Milan, DENNIS invites you to get refueled with cultural and social energy at the self-constructed gas station placed on the parking lot in front of Superstudio 13. The gas station provides refueling of inspiration, how design is generated, shaped and communicated.
While the Copenhagen-based crew readily cites graffiti as a source of inspiration, their ad-hoc furniture workshop—a creative outlet (a vehicle, perhaps) for art/design collective Bureau Detours—is rather less illicit... and far more functional to boot. (Indeed, the DENNIS Design Center had the blessing of the Temporary Museum for New Design and Danish Craft Council, among others; Takeshi's project, on the other hand, involved some internal electronics and a late-night installation—red flags for New York's finest.)
In other words, they hope to translate the same highly public aesthetic experience of graffiti into furniture.
I'm not sure if any of our readers are so attentive as to note that I'd promised a follow-up post about Dutch designer Jólan van der Wiel's booth at Ventura Lambrate, but before we all completely forget about that wonderful week in Italy in anticipation of the forthcoming ICFF, I'd like to share photos and a video from Milan.
While the original "Gravity Stool" dates back to 2011, he's refined the process a bit and branched out into other semi-crystalline objects such as a candle holder and a basin for the Salone.
Of course, the highlight was the series of daily demonstrations of his unconventional fabrication process. Where RISD's Taylor McKenzie-Veal made his "This Little Piggy" banks by subjecting a mundane material (per the theme of their show, "Transformation") to a series of simple processes, van der Wiel's self-produced machinery was impressive in and of itself.
Instead of attempting to describe the apparatus, I'll refer you to the video, as promised, after the jump...
The historical neighborhood of Brera is full of high-end furniture showrooms, boutique shops and galleries, with tiny picturesque streets and hidden courtyards embodying everything you would imagine a design destination in Italy to be. We headed straight to Via Palermo, home to some of the most sophisticated and well-curated group exhibitions seen in Milan this year.
Besides the ubiquitous buzzwords like "handcrafted" and "sustainable," one of the promising trends we noticed at the Salone (and a trip to Holon Design Week) was the emergence of the Middle East design scene. Carwan Gallery and AUS were easily some of my favorite shows at Ventura Lambrate and SaloneSatellite, respectively, and we were also impressed with the TLV Express, a collective of young designers from Israel's second-largest city.
Meanwhile, at the exact opposite end of the warehouse space on Via Massimiliano, some four dozen students from Jersualem's Bezalel Academy of Art and Design exhibited an impressive range of work as "Design Bonanza."
Somewhere in the midst of mundane technology, in the desert of everyday materials, within the familiar combinations, gold awaits to be discovered. The term "Bonanza" expresses the alchemic moment: a dream in which a new idea is born, the discovery of a treasure.
The "mining" process of new ideas, like a golden artery within familiar patterns, an opportunity within the material or object, characterizes the chosen batch of works by undergraduate and graduate industrial design students... "Design Bonanza" expresses the experimental spirit of Bezalel, one of the most recognized design academies in the world: creative research which encourages the students to doubt and look for that which is new in the material, shape, and idea, as tools for continued examination of the field of design.
"Design Bonanza" presents the designer's digging tools, as a process of searching for a path between junctions: margins and center, old and new. The metaphoric expression of the process is presented here using three essences: dirt, dust and gold. The first represents the period of the search, the second the moment of explosion, and discovery, and the third, the catharsis process of the discovery, when it transforms into a pure and refined idea.
The "Gold Rush" from the early 20th Century is replaced at the beginning of the 21st Century with a new "Gold Rush", which emanates from the beginning of the decline of the modern financial and social system. However, the real "gold" is in the free imagination, the aspirations, and the exposed, albeit filled with emotion, perspective of new creators. The hidden dreams in "Design Bonanza" try to illustrate the urge, discovery and future products of young designers in Israel.
Itamar Foguel - "Glass Knives for the Post-Modern Neanderthal"The project deals with the art of breaking rock and glass into blades in a traditional manner, as was done by prehistoric man, and connecting it with modern processing technologies of metal and glass. The project raises associations of an apocalyptic world, in which man will create survival tools from broken bottles, manually, without any raw materials or industry.
Ofer Berman - "100% Couio"
Glasses made of leather. The glasses were made using a method of bending, for strength and form. The graphics were burned onto the product with the use of laser.
Rami's project tries to study the differences and similarities between craft and modern innovative design. It examines the borders of hybridization between them, stretches them, and tries to remain with something identifiable with the past. The woven furniture that he created is based on traditional craft and preserves its production values together with massive industrial design.
Vadim created a glove with a very long and hard index finger and a "diminutive glass." This set allows people who have arachnophobia to optically "reduce" the size of a spider and thus make it appear less threatening. With the long finger, spiders can be touched without fear. Nothing will happen if the spider catches the finger.
Shelly Simcha - "Hair Brushes"
What if we could determine the types of hair growing from our brushes and paintbrushes? Could we give them specific characteristics, following a genetic specification and unique character, which would affect the way we use them and the products?
Hair is the memory of a specific person. Today, with a single Photoshop click, we can change the hair, the character and the memory. I at least hope that if we reach that moment, my brush will not have a "bad hair day."
In this project, Guy used explosives as a tool; however, he creates objects that are disconnected from their immediate associative context. The series of chairs embodies a new interpretation: the objects begin as geometric volumes made of tin sheets, wired with explosives. The explosion changes
the generic shape into an object with a unique character, while using the explosion element, which will forever create objects that are different from one another.
The making-of video circulated a bit when Mishaly released it last year; check it out after the jump:
It seems that every time I write aboutany of the booths we saw at Ventura Lambrate, I feel the need to mention how consistent the student work was this year. The students in RISD's Furniture Design program opted for a particularly restrictive theme to their exhibition: "The exhibition 'Transformations' showcases the concept of utilizing iconic everyday items outside their known applications. By taking these everyday items out of their normal contexts, they are transformed into unexpected objects with altered meaning."
Scot Bailey's (MFA '12) telescoping "Cup Light" allows the user to control the brightness by extending the cups on either end
Jamie Wolfond's (BFA '13) fearsome-looking "Communicable Seats" are connected with dozens of medical syringes and pressurized tubing, such that each seat transmits data about the other
It's not necessarily a new idea, but the sheer variety and quality of the eight works that the Furniture Design department exhibited in Milan—selected by Project Leader Lothar Windels and the furniture design faculty—illustrates the design talent at the Providence, RI art school.
The objects in this exhibition should be viewed as thoughtful prototypes. Through a rigorous research process, students explored iconic everyday items beyond their conventional use to create innovative furniture, lighting fixtures and objects. These explorations are pushing the boundaries of design and questioning the common marketplace.
If you were looking to uncover the freshest work from the next generation of designers in Milan this year, the Ventura Lambrate design district was your one-stop shop! With almost 90 exhibitions, the industrial neighborhood of Lambrate located to the northeast was overrun with design enthusiasts exploring the numerous warehouse spaces, galleries and studios which seemed to go on endlessly.
Studio Besau-Marguerre's hand-held greenhouse "Handgepäck"
Design curators and architects Barbara Brondi and Marco Rainó founded the IN Residence program in 2008 to be an annual design workshop bringing together 5-6 young designers and selected students from the 4 design schools in Torino to explore a central theme. Since then, the program has expanded to include a print publication, design talks and regular exhibitions featuring thoughtful and exploratory work around a single theme.
At this year's Milan presentations, Another Terra: Home Away From Home treated a certain feeling of impending crisis in a playful way. As we mentioned in our previous posts, many designers at this year's show addressed the uncertain future through their works or processes. Another Terra asked 15 young designers, "If you had to envisage life on some other habitable planet other than Earth, what kind of minimal hand luggage would you take with you?"
As Barbara Brondi and Marco Rainó explain in the EXCLUSIVE video interview below, the theme was inspired by NASA's recent discovery of another habitable earth. Themes that emerged included bringing tools for creation as in Tom´s Alonso's "Tools" box and Mischer'Traxler's "Tools - Knowledge - Memory" kit or packing up plants for agricultural purposes as Studio Besau-Marguerre's hand-held greenhouse "Handgepäck" or Jo Meester's self-seeding "Materra" bowls.
Check the jump for more images as well as a second serving of exhibition goodness from Brondi and Rainó's show on woven objects for Milan's Plusdesign Gallery.
FABRIKAAT is an exhibition at Ventura Lambrate 2012 investigating the re-emerging role of the garden through a "research through making" approach to design and craft. In a digitally saturated world, this body of work celebrates and promotes research, ideas and the nuances of making by hand.
Program Director Alex Suarez noted that, even as each of the four student pairs focused on one of the broad categories of fabrication methods—molding, knitting/weaving, folding/bending and cutting/scoring—each team was encouraged to explore the historical significance and evolution of these through experimentation.
Hence, the extensive "making-of" component to the exhibition, including various iterations of the bricks and woven textiles in particular, as well as a video accompaniment for each project, highlighting the process as much as the final product, if not more so.
Hell, even the promo clip of the logo is nicely executed:
Check out all of the videos (which have no audio as far as I can tell) and descriptions in one place after the jump, plus many more photos on the project pages on the Fabrikaat microsite.
We gave you a sneak peek of PLZ DNT TCH's furniture fair debut at SaloneSatellite about a month ago, and while the studio shots of work certainly piqued our interest, it was a pleasure to meet the trio of young designers who established the collaborative studio in Savannah, GA.
Studio PLZ DNT TCH is Bradley Bowers, Alejandro Figueredo and Matt Gray. PLZ DNT TCH is some form of attraction—design is our medium. Our work is a fusion of language, culture, design and playfulness. we use design as a vehicle for improvement and revelation; we invite your curiosity and exploration.
Bowers' "Mona" (at top and bottom) and "Om" vessels: the latter, which is made from cotton, paper and natural latex, explores "expression through form, while staying ephemeral and fragile in an atypical manner."
The tabletop objects sit atop PLZ DNT TCH's "LI" table, a low dining table "designed to arouse curiosity."
Its unconventional use of material invites you to discover and explore the structure, the process, and the dialogue among LI's various components. It was made to represent the re-union of Nature and Man: the surface of the table is made from charred planks of wood (Nature), while the leg structure is made from Corian (Man). The use of the piece is dictated by its form and material composition, which allows for a new experience.
Similarly, Matt Gray's "Ante," which is made from brass, cast resin and real antlers, was also inspired by the man-nature dichotomy:
ANTE confronts society's obsession with re-presentation. It sanitizes the natural world by fusing it with the precision of the industrial machine. ANTE shifts from a natural to a manufactured world... in an attempt to glorify what always was glorious.
The American University of Sharjah—a United Arab Emirates city just north of Dubai—is named not for a particular Western affiliation but the education system itself: "Located in University City, AUS is a not-for-profit, independent institution of higher education formed on the American model." Founded in 1997 by His Highness Sheikh Dr. Sultan Bin Mohammed Al Qassimi, Member of the Supreme Council of the United Arab Emirates, Ruler of Sharjah, the school is accredited in the States, offering Bachelor's degrees in Architecture, Interior Design, Design Management, Multimedia Design and Visual Communications through its College of Architecture, Art and Design.
Design faculty and students at CAAD have a history of making in applied and aesthetic contexts that contribute significantly to the regional and international material culture made in the Gulf region... CAAD educates award-winning students and graduates that display a high degree of enthusiasm, innovation and ethical professionalism in the changing society of the region.
CAAD's studio culture resists confinement to a single medium, process, technology or theory; rather, it strives to integrate the object and everyday/virtual environments with drawing, painting, photography, digital fabrication/sculpture, time-based media and print. Student and alumni work evidences experimentation, craft, tradition and cultural precedent—and combines with community outreach, contemporary discourse and practice, and innovative digital fabrication techniques—to define the future of design and the constructed experience.
The wall treatment, fabricated by the department, was easily the best in show at Satellite
They created the topography with an additive process, then laser-cut the pattern into it...
Their showing at SaloneSatellite was one of the more progressive booths in the fair; Dean Peter Di Sabatino (formerly of the Department of Environmental Design at the Art Center) noted that it is purely a coincidence that the all eight of the participants—from a Vis/Com sophomore to several recent grads—happen to be female Arabs. Indeed, as with the Fuorisalone exhibition at Carwan Gallery, the work transcends narrow labels, running the gamut from purely formal experimentation to nuanced investigations into Middle Eastern history and culture.
Over time, the furniture design course has been transformed into a laboratory for the design and fabrication of increasingly complex and refined bespoke furniture. Building on this trajectory, CAAD has recently initiated a unique cross-disciplinary course entitled Form, Furniture and Graphics, available to students in all programs at CAAD. It emphasizes integration of graphic and typographic form with furniture design, exploring their reciprocal relationships. The goal is to expand the definition of furniture beyond normative function toward a hybrid condition that includes a semiotic reading.
Danah Al Kubaisy - "D-Bench"
Material: Sandblasted 3mm aluminum flat bar
Process: Metal-forming and general metal fabrication and assembly
The bench explores eruption as a formal quality and the deregulation of a rational ordering system along its length. The piece consists of 36 3mm-thick hand-shaped aluminum bars fastened with machine screws to a welded aluminum tube frame. The piece was sandblasted after fabrication and assembly.
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Sarah Alagroobi - "Amal's Prayer Chair" (prototype; with 3D-printed scale model)
This chair rocks to aid in the act of praying. The concept originates from the desire to aid the designer's late grandmother and mother who struggled to pray in the prostrate position. According to Islamic tradition, those who cannot physically endure prostration may pray in a sitting position. The typographic pattern on the skin of the chair is derived from the Arabic letter kaf and refers to the "The Throne" (Ayatul-Kirsi), a powerful verse in the Holy Quran. The verse states: "His Chair doth extend, Over the heavens And the Earth..."
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Marwa Abdulla Hasan - "Mesh Table"
Process: Traditional woodworking and handheld router
Starting with a triangular unit, this table gradually transforms from a 2D surface pattern toward relief and ultimately into 3D form. A combination of chiseling and hand-held routing with jig and template were used to achieve the pattern condition on the wood.
"I think Industrial Designers can do everything, from a watch, to a car to a building," explains the ever-charming British designer Ross Lovegrove. "If you are an industrial designer, I am one of you."
Lovegrove speaks with Core77 live from the Triennale Design Museum in Milan. Watch this exclusive video with where Lovegrove discusses Liquidkristal, his new architectural glass walls for Czech manufacturer Lasvit. The process for creating these walls took over a year to develop and employed fluid dynamics to digitally explore large-scale distribution and densification patterns found in nature.
Working with mathematical models, the behavior of glass was simulated under controlled thermo induction. This produced a highly informed line code, which serves as the blueprint for the production process, where highly precise temperature control imbues the glass surface with the beauty of optical effects seen in water. Working with Lovegrove, Lasvit's research facilities, led by Tomá Kamenec, developed a special flexible mold system to capture this effect. The finished product is highly customisable, allowing large-scale pattern aggregations over multiple sheets.
Every year Tortona Design Week grows-up a little more, and while you might have to visit Ventura Lambrate to see some of the younger up-and-coming designers that would have formally exhibited here, it's still a design destination to be reckoned with. In fact, in scale and quality, it rivals the typical "design week" most cities around the world can put together.
Nendo-fans were treated to not one but three separate exhibitions with the minimal "Black & Black" furniture collection for K%, their "still & sparkling" glass work for Czech company Lasvit, and a new bathroom furniture collection for Bisazza Bagno. Reacting to the economic climate (finally) Established & Sons introduced several new pieces at a more affordable price point and once again their booth design was breathtaking, albeit a little hard to photograph with all the crazy rope lights— possibly that was the point.
For those seeking a taste of Tortona-past, Danish design collective operating under the name Dennis Design Center built a temporary workshop in the Superstudio Più car park where they made and distributed free furniture to visitors with the promise of a new design everyday. It was kinda awesome!
Celebrating it's 175th Anniversary, London's Royal College of Arts (RCA) staged the stellar show Paradise during Milan's annual design week. Over 90 students and recent graduates from the Design Products program spread out on three floors and the courtyard of a former school to, "contemplate the discovery of something or somewhere wondrous."
"Rallied by the desire for change and compelled by dissatisfaction with the present, RCA students will author their own atlases of paradise, landscaped by different paths in the quest for a better future." Wonderfully, the future is paved with process-driven material solutions of the present as exemplified by five of our favorite projects from Paradise: Polyfloss, Sea Chair, Sedimentation Ceramics, Solar Sintering and NSEPS Furniture (which we covered earlier this week). Each of these projects explore new processes to introduce a second life for the materials of today. Paradise looks pretty bright as we follow these young designers into the future.
The Polyfloss Factory is a simple enough idea: shredded plastic waste is fed through the chamber of a repurposed cotton candy machine to spin out polypropylene fibers. The "polyfloss" is then remelted to create new objects. Polyfloss gives plastics a new life through micro-manufacturing techniques and with a rainbow of color options, the material has been used to create decorative interior objects, textile-based wearables, and even headphones. The project is by Nick Paget, Emile De Visscher, Christophe Machet and Audrey Gaulard from the MA Innovation Design Engineering program.
I wouldn't have guessed that Portuguese designer Rui Alves would produce work under My Own Super Studio, but insofar as his friendly demeanor matched that of his unassuming furniture, the moniker is intended to suggest humility as opposed to narcissism.
We weren't the only ones who were impressed by Alves' beautifully-executed woodwork at the SaloneSatellite this year: the organizers saw fit to include his "Woodpecker" design (above and below) in the Best-in-Show section in the far corner.
It's an elegant interchangeable home organization solution, taking trestle legs as inspiration for a versatile countertop or standalone unit, where the horizontal beam has three vertical points of attachment and a horizontal one. The various appendages—a coatrack, a knife block, a mushroom-shaped storage unit, a lamp, flat surfaces, etc.—and legs themselves are plug-and-play to maximize the functionality of the minimalist form.
The Faculty of Art and Design of the Free University of Bolzano, the only Italian university selected to exhibit at Ventura Lambrate, recently presented "Vertigini," an exhibition of 13 projects, curated by Professors Claudio Larcher, Steffen Kaz and Simone Simonelli.
The title of the exhibition refers, of course, to 'vertigo': "Not in the sense of a fear of falling, but as a spinning of the head, a sensation of being able to rise to new heights... this is the sensation that those studying for the three-year BA at the Faculty of Design and Art are trying to achieve."
The spectacular setting, consisting of ten ladders, is an idealized representation of the wish to learn and grow on the part of the students at the Faculty in South Tyrol, as well as their desire to strive towards ever greater professional challenges and increasingly ambitious projects.
If this theme—"an alteration of the sensory perceptions that occurs when we are exposed to objects of particular beauty displayed within a confined space"—seems particularly lofty, the work is quite strong overall.
WWW is an interpretation of the 'shelf' archetype. Between form and function, between space and dimension, it creates concrete opportunities and specific associations. Through its parts, it is not just notionally a modular system but also a type of installation in an ever-changing space.
Tomas Menapace - "Rock Vibrations"
A record player made of marble: the heaviness of the material reduces the vibrations of the disc, so you get much higher quality.
Giulia Cavazzani - "Viminibidi"
Viminidbidi is a 'parasite' that can grow on the ordinary plastic chairs found in gardens or at beach bars, giving them one or more extra functions. The project is an encounter between a mass-produced object and an ancient craft technique, that of wickerwork. The traditional wicker-weaving technique takes the form of a climbing plant that, growing on a plastic chair, introduces a new function: the magazine-pocket. Viminibidi thus transforms an ordinary plastic chair and gives it a new identity, allowing it to 'attract attention' thanks to its unusual form.
Giulio Maria Perencin - "BLM"
BLM is the unexpected result of a personal and unconventional path taken by a young design student. The choice of material and the working method may be crazy, but they nevertheless differentiate BLM from the other bikes on the market and the commercial dynamics of the multinational companies. The result is a self-made object, produced as a limited edition, that also emphasizes the value of the person making it: the craftsman.
When people talk about design in China, it is rarely mentioned with craft and innovation in the same breath. As we saw in the presentations in Milan, young designers in China are now sifting through the long history of specialty production and craft culture and staking a claim to change the conversation.
PINWU Studio was founded in 2008 by Domus Academy graduate ZhangLei to create products that marry traditional Chinese craft culture with a contemporary design aesthetic in what he terms, "Future Tradition." Upon meeting Christoph John (German-born and a fellow Domus graduate) and Jovana Bogdanovic (Serbian-born product designer) three years ago in Milan, the three found a kinship in their perspective on design and soon John and Bogdanovic moved to China to join Zhang at PINWU Studio.
This year's presentation From Yuhang, is the fruit of a two year dialogue and research intensive project; the three young designers traveled across the ancient Chinese district of Yuhang (located in Zhejiang Province not far outside Hangzhou) to explore local materials and seek out knowledgable craftspeople. "483 days, 17 traditional materials, 12 ancient villages, 10 designs, 8 craftsmen, 1 design team," explains the designers. From Yuhang includes 10 designs that exemplify their experiments with local materials including Yuhang Bamboo, Water Silk Floss, Porcelein and Bamboo Paper.
ILIDE, a loose acronym for "Italian lighting design," was founded to revive traditional Italian craftsmanship through modern design. Their debut at the Temporary Museum for New Design at Zona Tortona's Superstudio Più included two distinct series: "Unicità," a capsule of four lamps inspired by major Italian cities, and just over a dozen 'experimental' pieces "obtained by pushing technology, materials and artisans' skills to the limit." The inaugural collections are remarkably diverse, the result of a design contest in which 20 designers were paired with as many craftsmen to create the 17 final pieces.
The colors of the "Matera" lamp by Davide-Giulio Aquini come from the different kinds of clay, not a surface treatment. Image courtesy of Ilide
The "Venezia" by Davide-Giulio Aguini and Daniele Gualeni is a modern update to the traditional Venetian chandeliers. Image courtesy of Ilide
In addition to invoking the romantic spirit of "traditional handcrafted products"—indeed, it often seemed like the majority of new work was described as such—Ilide's offerings are also locally manufactured. Yet the new company has a legitimate claim to a truly artisanal heritage: the new generation of stateside DIYers has nada on the maestros who collaborated with established designers to create beautifully-crafted, often sculptural lamps and lighting fixtures.
The "Soffio" lamp by Alfonso Montalto & Mariagiovanna Ruiu is a tribute to hand-blown glass technique
Naheul Vega's "Light to Me" lamp uses natural coarse salt as a diffraction surface for embedded LEDs
The unconventional concept is made intuitive in the hourglass form.
Every day, we are surrounded by ideas brought to life. The chair we sit on, the sofa we lounge on, the computer we stare at all day. These are only a fraction of the objects that first took form in the minds of designers, sketched out on paper, then formed into reality.
Designers Andrea Mancuso and Emilia Serra, friends since their days at the Royal College of Art in 2008, have collaborated once again under the Analogia Project to bring visitors to the cusp of materiality and immateriality with Analogia #003 on exhibit at Ventura Lambrate during this year's Milan Design Week.
Using variably sized Merino wool set on a grid of fishing lines, the two have recreated a sketch of home in the physical world. The exhibit is so convincing that many visitors are first stunned, Mancuso and Serra tell me. "The most common reaction is a sense of surprise, they look confused and disoriented by what they are seeing."
What the visitors see is a collection of brushstrokes somehow seemingly suspended in air. The effect is ethereal and we are forced to reconsider how the imagined makes it way to becoming real. "It represents our way of reflecting about the different way an everyday object could be seen and their relationship with the space," say the designers.
Burg Giebichenstein Kunsthochschule Halle is, by its own description, "one of Germany's most varied and interesting art schools. Situated at the meeting point between East and West, it has had to reinvent itself for nearly a 100 years and does so to this day." I must admit that I'm not familiar with the the past century of Burg Halle's history, but if their recent graduate exhibition in Ventura Lambrate is any indication, the school has an excellent design program.
Here's a look at several of the works in their jam-packed, two-story booth in the warehouse space on Via Massimiliano:
...combines firewood storage and a rack system. It provides easy access to firewood and creates space for books and much more. Through different add-ons, such as hooks, shelves, seating area or a lamp, Herr Holzinger offers various uses. Herr Holzinger can be built individually or in multiple modules side by side. Due to the variable stack height of 60 cm or 120 cm, Herr Holzinger can be built both, as a high room divider or as a lower sideboard.
Observed many times, most people can't stay in the same reading position very long. The idea—one surface entirely made of cushions. All cushions can be moved individually to create the favored position: pushed down or pulled out. They provide support for the different arrangements, making it cuddly and comfortable.
Flanders is a furniture for living rooms or maybe even for the office. A furniture between chair and sofa, that can be rolled out to a couch area on the floor. The nearly three-meter long cushioned fabric is wrapped around a wooden body and then clamped to a tubular steel frame. Inspiration for this furniture was a roll of carpeted floor in a hardware store.
Hyde is a table which offers special storage. Inside its table top one can find a hidden channel, providing enough space for things which are needed at a workplace like hard drive, power supply and other office accessories. Three plates close the storage channel and create a free table surface.
The Gap Chair is composed of three components that can be arranged individually by the owner in color and material. A plastic part connects the individual parts and creates a joint that allows the attachment of additives such as a table surface or a reading light. Easy assembly, few parts and a small packing size underline the customizing concept.
AS if by magic, Papillon changes from a flat board into a sculptural table lamp. This is made possible by a cleverly thought-out folding mechanism that gives the lamp form and stability.
The material used is a laminated composite made of plywood and linen, with integrated LED technology and wiring. The wedge-shaped recess in the arm allows clamping of the lamp on a tabletop with no fastening elements whatsoever. Compared with conventional table lamps, Papillon features an extremely compact design for packaging and storage, as well as user-friendly setup.
"Hand made-high tech," is a great framework for thinking about Silo's approach to product design. The graduating RCA duo comprised of Attua Aparicio and Oscar Wanless work with industrial materials and processes and adapt them to a more craft approach.
At the RCA student show hosted in Ventura Lambrate, Silo exhibited a collection of vivid new creations utilizing hand-sewn fabric molds filled with raw polystyrene granuales. The process, developed by the duo, they've coined NSEPS—not so expanded polystyrene. The result is a highly graphic, lightweight and structurally stable collection of furniture, lighting, interior objects and personal accessories.