Made-in is curious about designers’ inspirations and influences, their starting points, experimentation process, motivation and how their outcomes might be influenced by the resources that they have access to. This Milan Report shares a selection of the impressive work we saw during the Milan Design Week 2019 and is by no means exhaustive, definitive of the ‘best’ works, or indicative of whom we deem as ‘emerging’ designers.
In just a week, we saw an appreciation for traditional techniques, a combination of common materials with new technology, the use of ready-mades to construct contemporary furniture, experiments with unconventional materials and processes, and an eclectic mix of functional sculpture amongst conventional furniture forms.
Designers are constantly reinventing craft and exploring new ways of making. Daphne trays by Uniqka (Istanbul) is a poetic composition of two layers of vegetable tanned leather hand-formed and decorated with a leather-knit border. Uniqka’s appreciation and deep understanding of leather is evident in their Rotonda holders. With a simple pinch, the thick vegetable tanned leather is transformed into a sculptural lid held together by its tensile properties and a few double-stitched detailing.
Heleen Sintobin (Belgium) hacks leather-craft with technology in the production of her Digi-vas collection. Inspired by English ‘black jacks’ leather drinking jugs, Heleen combines CNC milling and wet moulding techniques to coax the tough vegetable tanned leather into forms dictated by her 2D patterns. She uses an abandoned 2000 year old dyeing method ‘vinegaroon’, a blend of vinegar and steel that reacts with the tannins inside the leather to give it a deep black hue.
Zhekai Zhang (China) randomises the outcome of a mass production technique by introducing a piece of fabric to the slip-casting process. Each resulting piece is unique.
Studio Julien Manaira (France) casts the beauty of layering in his ‘Once liquid plastic’ collection of shelves. He casts epoxy resin layer after layer into an open mould to build the structure and thickness of each shelf. This tedious process is captured in the resulting gradient and uneven edges.
In a more tech-forward process, Shinya Yoshida (Japan) 3D-prints elastomer into elastic stools and bag, keeping the surface raw with a textured finish of horizontal stripes.
It seems the range of materials on Earth we have is not enough. Studio Furthermore (London) launched a speculative exploration of the abundant material resources beyond our planet. The duo speculates that the solution to resource scarcity might be to expand industrial activities out towards the direction of the stars. ‘Moon Rock’ includes lunar cut mineral tables of various sizes, lighting and seating.
Audrey Large (The Netherlands) captures the fluidity of crossing realms in Metathing; an artefact constructed in digital 3D space that has the potential to be translated to infinite material conditions including being 2D or 3D printed, or as a 2D or 3D digital visual.
Pulling ourselves back to Earth and the mundane reality, we were also interested in the works of designers who have found and built treasures with common materials.
M-L-XL Studio (Italy/United Kingdom) built a furniture collection entirely from a standardised brass L-profile in their questioning of the meaning of “experimentation” in today’s design practice. Mario Tsai (China) takes a similar approach in his minimalistic Gongzheng Table that is assembled from extremely long high-strength aluminium profiles and l-beams for tops and legs respectively.
Having standardised parts and sizes has streamlined production in traditional manufacturing. Lukas Wegworth (Germany) applies this modular and structuralist design principle to developing ‘Three+One’, a minimal joint, scalable, plug-in connector that has been used to build furniture and architectural scale structures for social spaces.
Crowd-funded publication Collections Typologie (France) tracks the evolution of one ordinary object in each issue by documenting its manufacture, history, and highlighting its enduring relevance. Its latest editions include the wine bottle and cork stopper that were presented in an exhibition curated by Anniina Koivu.
David Derksen Design (The Netherlands), Noom (Ukraine), Bloc Studios (Italy), and DWA Design Studio (Italy) have turned humble materials into sculptural, functional objects in their aesthetic use of wood, metal and marble.
Made-in is excited by the design possibilities that the future holds and looks forward to bringing you more reports from our exploration of today’s design world.
All images are courtesy of the designers unless otherwise stated.