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Milan 2016: Reviewed

Each year we travel to Milan for their annual design week to seek out the best in contemporary design from around the world.
Each year we travel to Milan for their annual design week to seek out the best in contemporary design from around the world.

Each year we travel to Milan for their annual design week to seek out the best in contemporary design from around the world as the city transforms itself into a festival of culture. Exploring both the massive Salone Internazionale del Mobile and the numerous fuorisalone (“outside salone”) events throughout the city, we united with our long time partners and friends, and acquainted ourselves with new designers and manufacturers that showcased innovative interior offerings.

We began our journey visiting Interni’s Open Borders exhibition at University of Milan where several prominent architects and designers created thought provoking sight-specific installations. One of our favorites was “Pick Your Climate” installation by Carlo Ratti Associati together with climate engineering firm Transpolar. An installation at the crossroads between design, architecture, and science “Pick Your Climate” sets out to demonstrate how new photonic membranes that reflect solar radiation could contribute to reduce the temperature in our cities without added costs or water consumption.

We later visited Paola Lenti’s presentation at the magical Chiostri dell’Umanitaria. Her new pieces were presented in a remarkable setting filled with exotic flowers creating a tropical ambiance with an Italian flare. A special project within the exhibition was “Viaggio in Sicilia” with fashion designer Marella Ferrera that displayed a colorful collection of objects that celebrated the vibrancy of Sicilian culture.

A lot of fashion companies such as Nike, Tod’s, and COS had initiatives making it one of the biggest design weeks to date. We were blown away by the site-specific project titled “Forest of Light” by Japanese architect Sou Fujimoto for COS. A light installation and presentation located in Cinema Arti that explored ideas of interaction and perspective with darkened spaces illuminated by towering cones of light designed to respond to visitors’ movements. The installation was accompanied by specially composed sounds, subtle fog, and mirrored walls that together created an immersive, infinite landscape where the conical illuminations become abstracted trees in a shifting forest of light.

Another one of our favorite exhibitions was Nendo’s “50 Manga Chairs” presented by New York gallery Friedman Benda at the Chiostri di San Simpliciano in the Brera design district. Inspired by Japanese manga comics, the show included 50 chairs made of polished steel with a complete mirror finish laid out in a grid-like structure. Manga is a means of expression with a high degree of flatness and abstraction, and which is composed of a series of lines. We could say that manga comics are deeply rooted in Japanese culture, since they can be traced back to Ukiyoe prints developed during the Edo period. This installation of 50 manga chairs is the result of adapting the strong symbolic nature of manga comics to furniture design. Manga consist of a series of frames on a single sheet of paper that creates a sequence. Similarly, 50 standard chairs are lined up in a grid; each one conjures up a sense of story, and each with a design element from manga.

Celebrating B&B Italia’s 50th anniversary – a film, book and exhibition were launched. The exhibition “The Perfect Density” at La Triennale di Milano designed by Migliore+Servetto Architects, identifies the concept of density as the main narrative to celebrate the 50th anniversary of B&B Italia. “Density” is taken as a feature of B&B Italia’s identity in a broad sense: from the physical and material nature to the conceptual one. At the center of space 8 high vertical cages, pulsating and in movement, create a weave of bright beams that project images and texts into the room, tracing out a system of allusions and suggestions among the various elements.

The new DePadova showroom on via Santa Cecilia designed by Piero Lissoni proves that he is a leader in creating innovative interiors. The understated showroom seems unpresuming from its minimal entrance, but presents a vast surprise once inside. La Terraza, a new space on the roof top of a building in Brera by Santambrogiomilano includes a simple, whimsical collection of glass furniture. The terrace, from where you could see the skyline of Milan, offered a tranquil escape from the hustle and bustle of the fair.

Our all time favorite exhibition was “Subtle” by Takeo Paper Show at la Triennale di Milano curated and directed by Kenya Hara. An experimental exploration that recaptured the allure of paper within a contemporary context featuring 15 creators that assembled delicate paper sculptures.

April 2016