Milan Design Week 12 – 17 April 2016
By Dieneke Ferguson and Manuel Ruiz-Adame
This is one of a series of articles about our visit to Milan for the Milan Design Week in 2016 and to visit the Salone del Mobile and Salone Satelite. You can see the other articles here:
Visiting Milan 2016: Airbnb, Makers and Bakers, Dossofiorito, Piet Hein Eek
Visiting Milan 2016: Zona Tortona, Moooi, Soklara, Lee Broom
Visiting Milan 2016: Ingo Maurer, Tom Dixon, Kukka, Curvalinea
Visiting Milan 2016: SO KLARA
Visiting Milan: Kukka shows Spectra
Visiting Milan: Airbnb presents Makers and Bakers
We didn’t have long in Milan. Manuel and myself arrived on Tuesday 12 April in the evening and flew back on Saturday 16 April. We are always struggling with time as our list of what we would like to see never works within the limited time available.
This year we were pleased that 4 of the designers that are selling on the Hidden Art E-Shop were exhibiting in different places across Milan. We have written about their shows alongside other designers whose shows we really liked. They are Bright Potato, Curvalinea, Kukka and SO KLARA.
There was a lot to see this year in Milan and it takes time to digest it all back at home. But some of the trends we spotted were:
- The eclectic nature of the shows – with a myriad of inspirations
- Indirect focus on Brasil and the Rio 2016 Olympics. Jungle plants and design; bright and bold colours
- Focus on materials, its uses and sustainability
- Food and design
- The craftsmanship behind the design
Milan in April
For a week in April Milan is almost becoming our second home. The first year that I visited Milan was in the spring of 2001 on a visit with designers. Piers from Designersblock helpfully talked us through what to see outside of the main fair and explained to us what was worth seeing with the help of the Interni Guide. Link. In 2002 four designers exhibited with Designersblock and for subsequent years until 2010 Hidden Art had secured funding to introduce designers to the ins and outs of Milan and showcase their work. Further information
Milan has become so important for us, that we have continued the tradition and Manuel and myself each year since 2011 spend an intensive 3.5 days in Milan visiting Fairs and shows, seeing the latest designs and trends and reporting back on our findings.
Over the years, we have seen many changes, but there also have been constants which is very reassuring. In addition to Marva Griffin who is still in charge of the Salone Satelite there is Designersblock in addition to some designers that are still there – this includes Ingo Maurer, the German lighting designer who every year brings a spectacular show. Superstudio 13 and Superstudio Piu are still venues going strong in the Zona Tortona. The Zona Tortona as a Milan Design Week cluster started in 2003 and we felt very much at home there as the initial logo of the Zona Tortona included a red dot as does Hidden Art.
Throughout the years, new clusters have been added, such as Ventura Lambrate which very much focuses on colleges in addition to other designers. Wallpaper has settled for San Gregorio Docet, the area near the Central Station and in the Brera Design District there is a multiplicity of showrooms of the known design brands that are also represented in the main fair.
2006 was a big year when the Fair moved outside of the City of Milan in to a stunning new complex in Rho just outside Milan on the northwest.
A couple of years ago there was talk of the Milan Furniture Fair and Design Week running out of steam. However this year’s extravanganza has shown again that nothing compares with the Milan Furniture Fair and Milan Design Week. Although the impact of the recession is noticeable through smaller events its present is still very much felt. The digital age also has left its mark with this year being the first year that the catalogue for the Salone del Mobile for press was available in digital format, not anymore in hard copy.
This year Milan was a feast for the senses: eclectic but a lot to see and many influences: from design in food and plants to clever uses of materials. The bright and bold colours of Mendini were also very much in alongside the many product launches. The trend of the large corporates positioning themselves as a design brand continued. As a small designer it is hard to get the press you would like. This year we were pleased to see 4 of the designers that sell on the Hidden Art E-Shop launch new products. They are: Bright Potato, Curvalinea, Kukka and SoKlara.
So this year as in previous years, we set out to plan our programme taking in any little time we had. Starting on the Tuesday night with Masterly – the Dutch in Milan. Unfortunately we arrived late and they were about to close. The entrance was brilliant, imminently Dutch with the huge display of hundreds of tulips.
We met up with Barbara Chandler in a lovely restaurant over a stunning meal and then on Wednesday we set out to go to the main Fair in Rho and Salone Satelite.
Wednesday 13 April
Salone del Mobile
With the Rio Olympics arriving this summer many designers had got into the spirit with green walls and curtains of leaves as a backdrop to their stands. Dedon’s stand was turned into a ‘jungalow’ with a whole variety of plants and contemporary outdoor furniture.
This is so huge that we mostly end up visiting two halls with the most modern work. Manuel is a huge fan of Edra sofas, which had an impressive display this year. My favourite was Edra’s Boa sofa designed by the Campana brothers. It resembles a woven nest, each created from four tubes of thirty metres each.
Moroso featured the Shadowy Chair by Tord Boontje made for Moroso in 2009. The chair has shapes that evokes the beach furniture found at the North Sea in Northern Europe in the twenties. They are brought into the modern day through the use of digitally drawn colour patterns woven by expert African craftsmen using coloured plastic threads around the steel frame forming the robust shape. The chairs are handmade in Senegal. The Gemma Chair by Daniel Libeskind represents a synergy between the complex geometries of Libeskind and Moroso’s expertise. As such it becomes an exercise in architecture on a small scale.
SCP presented the new Sofa in Sight upholstery collection, which presents six sofas by designers. Michael Anastassiades, Konstantin Grcic, Faudet-Harrison,Matthew Hilton, Lucy Kurrein and Terence Woodgate. The Sofa in Sight upholstery collection explores the idea of the modern sofa itself and as a consequence raises questions about comfort in the modern home and workplace. They are created at SCP’s factory in Norfolk.
Having exhibited at Salone Satelite for 5 consecutive years from 2007 to 2010 and looked at the lovely work displayed there, we always try to say hello to Marva Griffin-Wiltshire, the person who founded Salone Satelite in 1998 as the portion of Milan’s Salone Internazionale del Mobile that is devoted to showcase work from young designers under the age of 35. The objective of the Salone Satelite was to expose young designers to the interior design furniture industry, or the Salone Del Mobile.
This year’s theme was “New Materials, New Design” exploring the latest that the new material science has to offer.
Bright Potato, who also have their products on the Hidden Art E-Shop launched Mangle, a plant a tree pot designed specifically to promote the growth and development of trees and plants in the urban landscape. Mangle is inspired by the tropical mangrove trees. The mangrove has the unique ability to survive and grown in the soil/mud where other plants and trees cannot survive in. Mangle attempts to emulate the harsh environment of the urban landscape. Also on show was his Papillon pendant shade.