Today marks the beginning of this year's Salone del Mobile in Milan. Whether you're among the hundreds of designers who flock to Italy for the festival or you're at home scouring the Internet with a severe case of FOMO, it's important to narrow down your radar to the best of the best. You'll start to notice some themes amongst our top picks—many of them address and tackle current popular design themes, including food design, designing for the future home and extreme materials design:
REDO Super Supermarket, an installation by Kolding School of Design, looks and acts like a supermarket. When you look closer, however, you'll start to notice the products aren't what they seem. The inedible products are all made from leftover materials provided by multiple Danish companies. Yum.
Form&Seek's exhibition for Salone is right in line with the collective's mission to focus on both the functional and poetic and appeal of design. Age of Man blends fascinating materials with funky form, showing off a wide variety of thoughtful objects, concepts and experiments.
A portrait of Norwegian Design, Everything is Connected tells the story of Norway's current creative scene by highlighting the role connection plays in contemporary Norwegian craft–from material access and innovation to production facilities.
IKEA is throwing a festival that explores the concept of living from different angles through the theme 'Let's make room for life". Meet IKEA designers, participate in various workshops, check out the Growroom in person, eat IKEA's classic meatballs at the pop-up restaurant, watch robotic artistry in action, or just party. Up to you.
Central Saint Martins never fails to shock with their annual Material Futures exhibit. Graduates from the experimental program had the chance to explore potential future scenarios through materials exploration, and this exhibit is the chance to show the design world what they've been working on the past two years. Last year, we saw sea-bacon made from dulse seaweed, architectural building materials made from corn waste and a way to escape the brightness of our light polluted world. There's no telling what these creative graduates will bring to the table this year.
During the week of Salone, this historic venue will be transformed into various installations and exhibitions focused on global future conditions of living. An exhibit we're particularly looking forward to is Design Academy Eindhoven's #TVclerici, the experimental design school's reaction to the era of fake news.
The Lexus Design Award 2017 encouraged designers to think outside of the box. This year's 'YET' theme encouraged the unexpected harmonization of ideas, like finalist Jia Wu's musical instruments made from vegetables. Four designers out of the twelve finalists (including Wu) worked with mentors to develop prototypes of their designs. The remaining eight finalists will have their ideas presented in panel displays.
Wallpaper*'s exhibition Holy Handmade! explores design as a sacred act and functions as "a non-denominational temple to the best of contemporary design". The exhibition features one-off objects designed around the holy theme and is fittingly held in Mediateca Santa Teresa, a former church. Talk about theme execution.
After spending 12 years in his London studio, artist Paul Cocksedge was evicted due to property development. Excavation: Eviction is the artist's physical and visual reaction to this experience. Through five furniture pieces made by drilling down to the studio's floor and excavating material, Excavation: Eviction explores the history of both his time in the space and the history of the building. Another example of a fitting venue, the exhibit is being held at Fondazione Luigi Rovati, whcih will soon be transforming into Milan's first Etruscan museum.
KitchenAid's The Serious About Food Kitchen Lab features the explorations of 8 architects and designers tasked with designing a concept kitchen that addresses looming concerns within the food design realm. Curated by Massimo Marzorati, the exhibit acts as an experimental laboratory to explore the role of the kitchen through design.
Homesick in Milan? Airbnb and Fabrica are celebrating the theme belonging and welcoming with Homecoming, an exhibition comprised of installations individually designed by 19 Fabrica designers. The unique cultural backgrounds of each designer shines through in their work, creating a global display of how people in different cultures connect with one another.
If you find yourself in the giant arena that is Salone del Mobile, be sure to hit Satellite to scope some young design talent. A wing of Salone with a much more concentrated focus on process and innovation, you'll see tons of works from students and young professionals alike that range from beautiful, technical to fascinatingly speculative.
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.