There's still plenty of time left in the week to make your rounds at Salone del Mobile. To make the journey a bit easier, we've curated a list of designers to scope out during the show. The designers on this list use unique materials and demonstrate clever form design. Most can be seen at Ventura Lambrate, a venue that tends to focus on progressive and conceptual design, however others can be found at various Salone locations worth taking a trip to:
Starting off this list with a bang: Blood tattoos. Really—this artist tattoos with his own blood instead of ink to protest the current fast fashion cycle. Vacková is bringing his powerful statement to Milan as part of EPHEMERAL_ETERNAL, Academy of Arts, Architecture and Design in Prague's exhibition at Ventura Lambrate. Live tattooing is involved.
When wandering through the material magic that is Ventura Lambrate, be sure to stop by Form&Seek's exhibition Age of Man to check out Alberto Bellamoli's fresh take on a traditional material—Terrazo. The flooring material is reinterpreted into Bellamoli's playful, sustainable furniture he calls Collecta.
As part of the SEEDS London exhibit, designer Duccio Maria Gambi is showing recent work from a collaborative research project. Gambi and his team used a combination of foam and concrete to create homewares of various shapes and sizes.
Lexus Design Awards 2017 finalist Jess Fügler had the opportunity to prototype her concept for a ceramic rug with mentorship from designer Elena Manferdini. Keeping with the collaborative theme of 'YET', Fügler's 'Structural Color' ceramic rug is a 'static YET changeable structure depending on viewpoint'. The 12 Lexus Design Awards finalists have their work on display at the "Lexus YET" Pavilon at La Triennale di Milano.
6.5 million kilograms of natural human hair is wasted per year in the UK alone. In reaction to this hairy situation, Sanne Visser designed rope-like bags made from human hair. The bags are a prime example of taking a natural material and making the most of it, and as you can see in the photos, they're pretty sturdy. They are currently on view at Form&Seek's Age of Man show.
Ecopixel and Allessandro Mendini have teamed up to reinterpret the timeless 'Alex' chair using Ecopixel, a recyclable material made up of meltable plastic pixels. Catch the colorful chair at Ventura Centrale.
Tom Dixon has unveiled his DELAKTIG collaboration with IKEA that includes this modular sofa bed. The sofa bed is open source and hackable, meaning it is completely customizable. Its aluminum frame is modifiable and is compatible with various extensions, including lamps and side tables. On April 5, Dixon will give a talk at the IKEA festival about the exciting collaboration.
We recently took a deeper look at Anna Gudmundsdottir's reverse engineered home goods. Her collection of minimalist products focuses on local manufacturing—she works backwards starting with production as the first step in her design process. Catch her exhibit Beyond Local at Ventura Lambarate.
It's 5 o'clock somewhere, and that "somewhere" is Yu Rong's collection of quirky wine goblets. Her Ventura Lambarate exhibit After 5pm consists of functional and conceptual glass goblets that challenge both the forms of traditional drinking goblets and glass as a material.
Sensing a theme? Hair seems to be a designer favorite this year. Studio ilio's take on the material involves an intricate printing process where hair is heated then marbled, screen-printed or scattered to create creepy-crawly patterns. Be sure to visit their exhibit, The Colour of Hair, at Ventura Lambarate. I encourage you to give their website a view, especially if you aren't in Milan—there are some beautifully creepy process images awaiting you.
Many artists use travel as an inspiration, but Nynke Koster brings that inspiration to life. Whenever she comes across an object or architectural element that strikes her, Koster brings it with her to then create a colorful 3D cast of the object's form. The results are clean structures with immaculate detail that she refers to as her '3D memories'. Koster's exhibit Fragments of Time is currently on view at Ventura Lambrate.
At the Institute of Industrial Design of the University of Applied Sciences and Arts Northwestern Switzerland, students are truly designing for the future. The school's exhibit Material Matters shows off projects the young Swiss designers have been working on. One project in particular that caught our eye is the work of students Benjamin Bichsel and Nadia Zoller. The duo has been exploring a way to transform kombucha scobies into a leather-like material. Material Matters is on view at Ventura Lambrate.
Another must-see at Ventura Centrale is Panter&Tourron's PASSAGES exhibit as part of the IQOS Pathfinder Project. The design studio's research project explores heat and color change through objects treated with thermochromic ink.
Catinca Tilea's #1minuteLamp installation at Ventura Lambrate explores the idea that anything can be turned into a lamp. Attendees are invited to create a lamp by simply adding materials to an interactive base. The activity is meant to challenge viewers' reflected images of traditional forms and to spark conversation around DIY culture and the concept of ownership in an age of shared data.
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What designers are on your Milan radar? Let us know!
Emily is a freelance writer based in NYC with an interest in all things design, specifically the design process. When she's not writing about design, Emily can either be found taking care of her 31 houseplants, going on "nature" walks in her neighborhood or studying Japanese. Before going freelance, Emily was an Editor at Core77.