Milan in Perspective 2014


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A report by Karen Rosenkranz and Mariel Brown

Every year the Milan design fair heralds a tidal wave of new concepts and products, the sum of which allows trend researchers to spot patterns for the year ahead. Mariel Brown and Karen Rosenkranz from design and innovation agency Seymourpowell, filter through this seismic swell of the new and uncover the standout projects that will set the design mood for 2014.

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Milan in Perspective 2014

  1. 1. MILAN IN PERSPECTIVE 2014 A report by Karen Rosenkranz and Mariel Brown
  2. 2. Every year the Milan Design Fair heralds a tidal wave of new concepts and products, the sum of which allows trend researchers to spot patterns for the year ahead. Karen Rosenkranz and Mariel Brown, from design and innovation agency Seymourpowell, filter through this seismic swell of the new and uncover the standout projects that will set the design mood for 2014. INTRODUCTIONINDEX 4-5 8-9 12-13 14-15 10-11 6-7 16-17 18-19 22-23 20-21
  3. 3. 4-5 PROTRUDE & LIGHT by YOY Our increasingly digital lives can feel very predictable; big data is anticipating our needs before we know them ourselves, whilst geo-location services make getting lost virtually impossible. All this certainty makes us crave a little uncertainty. We desire surprise, magic and wonder. Excitingly, Japanese design studio YOY gave visitors to Milan exactly that with their latest collection of designs that play with illusion and “bring humour to an ordinary room”. Our favourites from the collection were ‘Protrude’, a tray that looks as though it’s about to fall yet doesn’t and ‘Light’, a table lamp and floor lamp that project their shade onto a nearby surface. The design duo’s theme is “to create a new story between space and objects”, and we anticipate that many more designers will explore stories of illusion in the coming year.
  4. 4. Highlights included kinetic sculptures of spinning feathers evoking the seasonal migration of birds; an acoustic installation sampling the climatic sounds of Venus and Neptune, the hottest and coldest planets in our solar system; and tropical plants frozen in ice blocks, slowly melting in the warmth of Milan’s spring sun. Set in a huge white space, the exhibits were accompanied by poetic and informative temperature facts printed on beautiful iridescent boards, all contributing to a wonderfully serene and calming display. 6-7 As the Earth’s climate becomes increasingly volatile and society is striving to adapt, designers and artists alike are inspired by weather extremes. A beautiful example of this trend was the ‘Hot & Cold’ exhibition by Fabrica in collaboration with Japanese air conditioning manufacturer Daikin. Taking temperature as a starting point, a series of multi-sensory installations invited visitors to participate in an immersive laboratory of hot and cold experiences. HOT & COLD by Fabrica for Daikin
  5. 5. properties of stone to get rid of traditional constraints. Inspired by wooden laminated panels, this material is designed as a sandwich of stones glued together and then cut into 6 cm by 6 cm battens. This method significantly increases the rigidity of the rock by creating a new raw material. It then becomes possible to produce pieces of a much greater range and gives the opportunity to use the leftovers from this industry.” To show off their new material, the duo created a large-scale hanging rail with a beautiful brutalist aesthetic, which could not have been achieved using traditional cuts of marble. 8-9 The role of the young designer in Milan seems to be increasingly seeking to challenge the norms of the design establishment, rather than becoming a part of it. This year, we were pleased to discover recently graduated collective Grande at the Salone Satellite questioning convention with their new project ‘6x6’. This project explores how to make use of the waste generated when using marble, a material which the design industry has had an excessive appetite for in recent years. Grande explain, “6x6 is a project optimising the physical 6x6 by Grande
  6. 6. Another highlight from the fair, responding to the acceleration of change, was ‘De Natura Fossilium’ by Formafantasma in collaboration with Gallery Libby Sellers. Its widespread acclaim demonstrated people’s growing desire for archaic and eternal materials as things become ever more ephemeral. Inspired by the concept of locality and the power of nature, the Italian design duo once again stood out with their innovative approach towards material exploration. Inspired by the eruption of Mount Etna in November 2013, they started a holistic investigation into lava as a design material. The applications range from the more familiar use of basalt stone, to more extreme experiments with lava in the production of glass and the use of lavic fibres for textiles. This stunning collection of stools, coffee tables, wall hangings and smaller assemblages embodied by contrasting geometric volumes use: rough stone, basalt in varying levels of porosity and high gloss glass in the deepest shade of black. The pieces beautifully highlight the multifaceted characteristics of this timeless material. 10-11 DE NATURA FOSSILIUM by Formafantasma
  7. 7. Images by Tom Mannion 12-13 ISLANDS by Studio Raw-Edges Spending time with loved ones and nurturing our wellbeing have become important social themes in recent years. More and more we are reassessing our value systems in the wake of long-term global instability. With raised emphasis being placed on quality of life, the kitchen has taken on renewed significance as a healthy hearth to the home. Offering just this was Studio Raw- Edges who created the concept ‘Islands’ for Caesarstone. This playful piece focuses on the importance of enjoying food and its preparation. It reassesses the typical interior arrangements by elevating the worktop surface to hero. Cabinets and appliances are slotted into purpose-built voids rather than being placed atop or around. The piece created a wonderful contemporary contrast to Milan’s 18th Century Palazzo Clerici where it was exhibited.
  8. 8. 14-15 MOOOI SHOW SPACE by Marcel Wanders & Casper Vissers We are living through a period of great flux; never before in human history has life shifted at such a fast pace. Amidst all the new at the Milan fair, it was a pleasure to visit ‘Moooi’s Show Space’, which had grounded its new collection in the past amongst the historical architectural photography of Massimo Listri. “In a world which is dominated by the new, we like to see our works in the context of eternity,” explained the show’s co-creator Marcel Wanders. To achieve this feeling of timelessness, new pieces from designers (including Studio Job, Bertjan Pot, Kiki van Eijk and Joost van Bleiswijk) were arranged into small room layouts with older works from the Moooi collection. What particularly impressed us was the way the exhibition had turned 1,700 square metres of show space into an exhibition that felt both impressively grand yet distinctly intimate.
  9. 9. Studio WM presented a series of beautiful scent diffusers as part of the fantastic group show ‘010-020’ at Ventura Lambrate. Their project ‘Senses Unfold’ explores the symbiosis between scent, sight and material. The duo created a range of bespoke room fragrances and beautiful objects, each offering a different multi-sensory experience, diffusing scent through various techniques. A black soft touch pump releases a fine aromatic spray; a wooden sphere unlocks a fragrance-filled glass vessel; and an upside down bottle dispenses drops that slowly evaporate on a stone surface. We particularly admired the emphasis the designers placed on creating new rituals around scent. 16-17 SENSES UNFOLD by Studio WM Scent, it seems, is the next frontier in design. Intrinsically linked to our memories, scents are able to evoke moods in the most primal and direct way. They enable designers to create immersive olfactory experiences, transporting us to a different time and place – an escape we occasionally all long for in our digitally powered lives.
  10. 10. RED RIDING HOOD by Hanna Emelie Ernsting Austerity fatigue is creating a strong desire for escapism, a charming sense of which was offered by German designer Hanna Emelie Ernsting. Her ‘Red Riding Hood’ chair, is a cozy escape from the humdrum of day-to-day life. ‘Red Riding Hood’ is a felt armchair with an attached grey blanket that has a vibrant red underside. When a sitter draws the fabric around them, the red is revealed, creating a cape like effect reminiscent, as the name suggests, of the iconic apparel of Charles Perrault’s popular heroine. Ernsting explains, “Evenings are the time for stories, dreams and fairytales. After a strenuous workday, we long to escape for a time from everyday life and lose ourselves in the world of a book or film. These contrasting circumstances underlie the design of this armchair… With a turn of the hand, you can flip the drapery of the armchair over your shoulders and legs in any way you desire like a sensual, red protective cape, thereby ensconcing yourself in your own individual other world.” 18-19
  11. 11. 20-21 SERENISSIMA COLLECTION by Giorgia Zanellato & Daniele Bortotto for Moroso The trend for distressed surface finishes remained strong at this year’s show. People value individuality and character, and materials that have a story to tell. Never failing to impress, Italian design powerhouse Moroso presented a stunning new collection by Giorgia Zanellato and Daniele Bortotto, taking the city of Venice as a starting point for their ideas. The alluring atmosphere of the traditional city, often referred to as Serenissima, was put into contemporary context by the young design duo. Inspired by the patina of its corroded walls, they created fabrics in beautiful colour schemes, contrasting pale green with rusty orange. The textile is casually draped over flat cushions in cool, chalky tones sitting on a simple wooden base, producing an unconventional sofa with a charming layered effect. The seating arrangement ‘Doge’ is accompanied by a small side table ‘Alta Marea’ featuring the same design elements of simple tubular legs supporting a softly rounded wooden top. Here the design is intersected with a layer of glass; paying homage to the typical tonal gradations of the Venetian lagoon.
  12. 12. 22-23 ENSO & PALO by Studio Joa Herrenknecht The growing focus on health and exercise has sparked a desire for all things sporty. Just as fashion is currently awash with looks straight from the locker room, we are noticing the influence of sports culture in other categories such as furniture and lighting too. At Salone Satellite, the area of the fair dedicated to graduates and emerging talents, we particularly liked a set of wooden lamps by Studio Joa Herrenknecht named ‘ENSO & PALO’. The two playful pieces are inspired by traditional gym equipment. ‘ENSO’ is an illuminated ring that can be hung or can lean against a wall. Reminiscent of a trapeze, ‘PALO’ can be adjusted in height by simply pulling one end down. Equipped with a light plug, they can be placed anywhere in the room and easily moved to suit the user’s needs. At the Satellite, we felt designers responded strongly to our increasingly nomadic and fluid lifestyles, where we want things that are flexible and not too descriptive in use. “The essence of the new collection is the word ‘flow’ - meaning to be light, able to change, not static and able to move freely,” says Joa Herrenknecht, the Berlin based designer.
  13. 13. 24-25A report by Karen Rosenkranz and Mariel Brown, Seymourpowell Mariel has over nine years of experience working in design, technology, and social trend forecasting. Since joining Seymourpowell eight years ago she has worked on a diverse range of projects including user research, product strategy, and global trend studies. Mariel won a D&AD Award for Product Design and a D&AD Award for Environmental Design, before gaining an MA in Design Products from the Royal College of Art. In her current role as associate director and head of trends, she translates her trend, market and user insights into tangible future directions for numerous clients including Samsung, Panasonic, LG, Dell, Ford, Unilever and ASICS. Mariel has contributed trend commentary to numerous international publications, most recently, Contagious and Viewpoint Magazine. Mariel Brown Karen is part of the Research, Trends and Strategy team at Seymourpowell. She joined the company in 2007 after having worked in design consultancies in Amsterdam and New York. Karen’s experience covers many facets of the design process - from uncovering user insights to translating them into brand relevant propositions, from spotting emerging trends to defining a brand’s visual language. Currently head of social & lifestyle foresight, she is responsible for global user insight and trend studies for clients such as Unilever, LG and Nokia. Karen Rosenkranz
  14. 14. @Seymourpowell @Seymourpowell Seymourpowell LTD 327 Lillie Road London SW6 7NR Tel. +44 (0) 207 381 6433 Email :
  15. 15. CopyrightSeymourpowellLtd2014