While much of the work introduced at Milan this year played it safe—distinctly conservative colors, forms familiar from the 1950s, cautious use of materials—some architects’ designs took, shall we say, a bolder stance. But: Was it a better one? You, ever-opinionated reader, shall and no doubt will be the judge of that. Among the boldest of the bold designs this year were four pieces presented by Zaha Hadid.
It’s easy to get overwhelmed at the Salone del Mobile and the dozens of related events during Milan Design Week. Luckily there are plenty of visual palate cleansers in form of immersive environments, from new showrooms by Pritzker Prize–winning architects to dazzling installations by up-and-coming designers. There is more to Milan Design Week than just great looking furniture! At the Triennale design museum, for instance, Paris-based DGT architects created a light-catching installation for Citizen watches called Light is Time (above), featuring space dividing curtains made of tens of thousands of watch plates.
AN editors swept and tweeted through the exhibit halls of the venerable Salone del Mobile last week, as well as the myriad satellite design events, exhibits, and installations that popped up around Milan. Footsore but aesthetically satiated, the AN team has reassembled stateside to share some of the best finds from the fair.
A lacquered, digital print enlivens the interior of the shelves, which are constructed of humble MDF. Designed by Garth Roberts.
Patrizia Moroso, art director at Moroso, recently chatted with AN about her impressions of ICFF, working with Patricia Urquiola, and the design house’s plans for New York Design Week.
What are your impressions of ICFF?
It is something very important for the U.S. and for New York. For me, around the fair and outside the pavilions, there’s a lot organized in town. The fair is growing. For example, Milan [Furniture Fair] has become so important these years. In Milano, we have something like 3,000 events around design week but this means that people are excited. Now, New York is becoming something like this. You have so much happening around it. The interest and the dialogue between the institutions and the companies and firms can carry on in and around the fair.
AN had boots on the ground at the 2013 Milan Furniture Fair, taking the air and parsing the differences. This year saw an abundance of collaborations between furniture designers and architects. What follows is the first half of our greatest hits, everything from modular shelving and sleek hardware to design-forward consoles and practical seating. View even more architect-designed furniture from Milan in the second section of our roundup here.
Multidisciplinary design office Claesson Koivisto Rune was inspired by American artist Ellsworth Kelly when they created the Kelly seating collection for Tacchini. The line features three pieces—Kelly E, H, and L—with cushions that reference the bold colors and irregular shapes common in the artist’s sculptures atop delicate frames coated in matching paint.
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Goetz Composites fabricated the Granoff Collection of modular furniture for a new Diller, Scofidio + Renfro-designed building at Brown University.
Brown University’s Granoff Center for the Creative Arts, completed by Diller, Scofidio + Renfro in 2010, was a direct result of the institution’s studies on how students and faculty interact today. Since most interdisciplinary exchanges were taking place in stairwells over classrooms, the architects designed a central escalier with five landings where the school’s population could meet among rotating student installations. One year after the building opened, the users realized that something was missing on the escalier: a place to sit. To rectify the situation, graduate students from the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) collaborated with Brown alumni to design a unique collection of furniture named for the building’s patrons, Perry and Marty Granoff.
The alumni designers—Taylor McKenzie-Veal, Scot Bailey, Ian Stell, and Yumi Yoshida—crafted a line of modular furniture that includes a sofa, a chair, and a table that doubles as a stool. The line caters to local industry in materiality; namely the state’s maritime history. “The boating and composite expertise in Rhode Island has a long-standing history of excellence and [we] consulted and collaborated with a local composites and engineering firm while developing and prototyping the design,” said McKenzie-Veal.
Looking to brighten up the party at the 2012 Milan Furniture Fair and beyond, Heineken plans to sponsor a pop up club contest. The idea was hatched at the fair two years ago when global design and concept manager Mark van Iterson visited the Salone. The company was on the lookout for an ephemeral marketing idea that would make a nice splash–a beer equivalent of a concept car or couture, a top tier notion with a nice trickle down effect. But when the Icelandic volcanic ash kept him earthbound longer than he expected, he decided leave the exhibits and hit the party circuit instead. It was at one of the fair’s many venues he had his Isaac Newton moment. “I found it a bit dull, and we were waiting 40 minutes to get a drink, and we thought “we can do this so much better–that’s our business.”