Milan 2010 Report by Mariel Brown and Zoe Stavrou from the trends and strategy team at global design and innovation company Seymourpowell.This April we once again joined the multitude of design lovers (a record 329,563 visitors) ndheading to Milan for the 32 edition of the International Salone del Mobile. Little did we knowthat an untimely volcano eruption would mean our stay would be an extended one! So with allthat extra time to look around the fair, what trends did we find?This year we observed a gentle progression and softening of last year’s ‘crunched’ themes anda growing sense of both nostalgia and the need for escapism. What felt particularly positiveabout the show was the level at which designers and manufacturers across the board wereengaging with the issue of sustainability.Contemporary ClassicsThe utilitarian trend of the last few years has been noticeably softened. An accomplishedexample of this was Partricia Urquiola’s Klara armchair for Moroso. The design works on asimple, linear aesthetic that is harmonious in its curved yet essential shape, which is threminiscent of the first serial productions of the early 20 century.Another elegant example of this trend was the Bessy lounge chair by Stefan Diez for Germanbrand E15. Made of oak-veneered plywood with a simple fabric cushion this armchair is amodern interpretation of a classic lounge chair that has an enduring almost timelessappearance.Blow UpForms that appeared to have been ‘blown up’ were seen in many guises throughout the fair. Aninnovative example of this was Marcel Wanders Sparkling chair for Italian manufacturers Magis.The product is made of transparent plastic (PET) and is produced using the same blowmoulding technique commonly used for bottles of water. By using this technique Wanders keptplastic usage to a minimum and the result was a chair that only weighs in at around 1kg.British designer Tom Dixon’s new Void Lamp has a similarly turgid form that allowed him toinnovate with the quality of light that the lamp gives off. Its spun double walls reflect and soften
/contthe light emitted from a concealed halogen bulb.Established & Sons collaborated with Italian glass company Venini to give the tradition of glassblowing an exciting contemporary refresh. One such project was the Print Lamp by SylvainWillenz. The Print Lamp gathers within a single bubble of blown glass components usuallyfound as separate items in pendant lighting. The shade, the colour, the reflector and the diffuserhave effectively all been produced within one elegant gesture.A personal favourite from the Established & Sons and Venini collaboration was the BouroullecBrothers’ Lighthouse Lamp. Here the emphasis was on creating a sense of vulnerability. Theidea was to light up a voluminous round glass structure that would be supported by a delicatealuminium stick.RetrographicOne the most distinctive themes to emerge this year, was the use of graphics and geometricpatterns, coupled with a distinctly retro colour palette. With their Paper Plane chair Nipa Doshiand Jonathan Levien skilfully combined shades of mustard, grey, black and beige and a grid-like surface pattern with a subtle pinstripe of metallic thread. Although not initially noticed, thisgave much delight to passers-by as the light bounced off the thread, turning heads with a subtleshimmer.Other standout pieces include Patricia Urquiola’s Silver Lake collection and Redondo sofa forMoroso. Again shades of mustard, brown, maroon and grey dominated but with flashes ofterracotta, white and yellow. Both pieces were treated very differently: Redondo exudingsoftness with its quilt-like surface detail and cocooning form, and the Silver Lake collection amore geometric aesthetic. The contrasting use of materials was particularly noted, as onwalking around the collection, different side panels of wood, fabric and leather were revealed –nicely accented by the highly coloured structural framework.Quirky pieces such as the Amsterdam Armoire by Scholten & Baijings, was inspired by typicallyDutch design but with a twist. The proportions of the piece and the spherical feet made frompink glass, coupled with the use of pastel shades and a geometric surface pattern had a flavour
/contof Ettore Sottsass’s 1980s post modernist designs for Memphis, as did the ‘Phase Bureau’ byEast London’s Patternity and furniture designer Toby Winteringham. Their collaboration on thePhase range of furniture debuted at the Salone Satellite this year, fusing bold pattern withtraditional marquetry.Knit one, Purl oneWhere weaving had captured many designers imagination last year, this year knitting and woolmade a comeback adding cosy warmth to a number of pieces. The Mangas Naturales rugcollection by Patricia Urquiola is a lovely example of this trend ‘Mangas’ (engl. Sleeves) isbased on a patchwork of different wool knits, to create a collection of various typologies withdifferent shapes, going from Manga corta (short sleeve) to Manga de campana (bell-shapedsleeve). The result is a series of eight enchanting carpets with a wonderful variety of texturesand colours.Charmingly imperfect could be one way of summing up the suitably named Granny pendantlamp by Australian design group Pudelskern. Each Granny is hand knitted from Tyroleansheep’s wool and is signed by the designer.Equally quirky was Bertjan Pot’s Jumper chair for Established & Sons. Jumper consists of onecontinuous oversized woollen knitted cover that is created on a ‘Knit and Wear’ machine usuallyused for producing garments. The resemblance to a jumper is completed by the addition ofbuttons that fix the cover on to the underside of the chair.Interestingly, wool was not just used to idiosyncratic effect by designers. Bonbons by promisingyoung Serbian talent Ana Kras is a sophisticated family of lamps created from wool leftoverfrom a collection by knitwear company Ivko-knits. The wool was wrapped around coated steelwire frames to stunning effect.Back to SchoolBringing a naïve and playful charm to this year’s show, many pieces possessed a classroom-like quality. Utilising a colour palette of primary colours and simple, pale woods, many pieces
/contreferenced the archetypal forms of things that could be found in the classrooms of our youth.Although appearing in the first instance very simplistic, many of the pieces had a cleverness tothem, whether that be in the method of manufacture or the way in which they can be used. TheJWC2 (Just Wood Chair 2) by Florian Hauswirth for design collective Postfossil is an evolutionof his previous work, which uses an innovative wood joining technique. The chair consistsexclusively of wood and does not require glue in its assembly. Instead, the heat generated byinserting the dowels releases adhesives present in the wood itself, forming a substantial weldedbond in seconds.Stefan Diezs modular and stackable storage system New Order for Established & Sons comesin a selection of primary colours and has a powder coated aluminium exterior. The practicality ofthe piece was undeniable and had all of us instantly contemplating the many ways in which wecould use it in our respective homes.PrimalThe force of nature was felt at this year’s show, and not just because of the Eyjafjallajokullglacier eruption, many designers took the idea of nostalgia to the extreme finding inspiration inthe early origins of man.At Edra’s The Barbarians show The Campana Brothers displayed their usual confidence in formand material exhibiting some bold new pieces. Cabana in particular caused a stir. Reminiscentof a strange creature this piece is in fact a storage unit entirely concealed by dangling lengths offire-proofed raffia! The brother’s new table entitled Cotto, had a similarly assured aesthetic. It iscomprised of a stainless steel structure and legs with a thick aluminium top. The tabletop is setwith eight large, variously shaped, and textured pieces of treated terracotta that speaks of theEtruscans.French design brand Moustache launched their second collection of furniture at this year’s showand Matali Crasset caught our eye with her new piece called Instant Armseat. The Instant
/contArmseat is a wooden chair with one armrest (large enough to place a glass on). The seat canbe transform into a bench joining two Instant Armseats together. What felt particularly freshabout this design was the Pyrenees sheepskin that was thrown over each chair to add comfort.The aesthetic was reminiscent of a nomadic lifestyle where evenings are spent under the starshuddling next to a campfire for warmth.The great outdoors were also reflected in Gita Gschwendtner Quarry and Soft Crystal Series atthe Swarovski Elements at Work exhibition. Here rock formations were channelled as she cast aplaster and resin mix as a stool and low table, with a broken away, but crystal-sprinkled cornerthat created beauty from imperfection.EtherealImmersive, otherworldly atmospheres were a noticeable theme throughout the fair. All at oncemeditative and transcendent, the Toshiba ‘Lucèste’ lighting installation had the crowds sighingwith wonderment. A ceiling-mounted LED installation diffused light through a veil of swirling mistto suffuse the exhibition space with a spectrum of growing colour, proving that low energylighting can be used to great effect.This year, Swarovski’s Crystal Palace installation really captured the crowds imagination.Inspired by the theme of palaces, five designers were commissioned to present theirinterpretations. Inspired by The Northern Lights, Rogier van der Heides Dream Cloud seescrystals that seem to be magically suspended in the air, shimmering in the darkness.Yves Behar also embraced the use of low-energy LEDs in his piece entitled Amplify - a series ofdeceptively simple ‘paper lanterns’ shaped like crystals, within which light was refracted from areal crystal, casting its patterns on the surface of the paper. Béhar’s design was created with afocus on sustainability and affordability, featuring a faceted shade made from recycledmaterials, one crystal and one low-energy consuming LED light. The design featured 6 differentcrystalline shapes in varying sizes, which could either be used individually or clustered togetherto striking effect.
/contOne of the stars of this years show was Tokujin Yoshioka, with much of his work possessing anethereal quality. The Kartell store featured an installation by the designer, presenting his rangeof one-off chairs entitled The Invisibles. A forest of suspended crystalline shards ofpolycarbonate provided the perfect backdrop to the chairs – each of them possessing all atonce the lightness of total transparency and the solidity brought by the thickness of the material.For his Swarovski Crystal Palace installation, Yoshioka created a large globe encrusted withSwarovski crystals and lit from within by LEDs. Hanging in the centre of the room, it bathedeverything in a soft and hypnotic light bringing depth and intrigue to its accompanying piece:another globe suspended in a tank of water, on which crystals grew naturally.ConclusionIn spite of the volcanic plumes threatening our return, this year’s Salone still managed to makea lasting impression. Many of the pieces were the evolution of work seen at previous shows,proving that some trends are very much here to stay. In a climate where tender green shootsare emerging from the recession, pieces that inspire nostalgia, transcendence, confidence andmonumental power are the ones that will connect on a deeper level and prove to be the onesthat will go the distance.For further information contact:Tim DuncanPR Global, SeymourpowellEmail: firstname.lastname@example.orgTel: +44 (0) 20 7386 2369About Seymourpowell – the shape of things to comeSeymourpowell is one of the world’s leading design and innovation companies. Founded in1984 by Richard Seymour and Dick Powell, the London-based group of award-winningdesigners has produced some of the ‘milestone’ products of the last two decades. The companyis now part of the Loewy Group.Seymourpowell is currently 80 people, combining a design studio, research centre, materialslibrary and prototyping workshop.Seymourpowell has a unique holistic approach to design and innovation, which combines indepth experience and up to date intelligence about people, markets and businesses. Thecompany has the ability to forecast and interpret the vital implications of behaviors and work outfuture scenarios to give its clients the confidence and reassurance they are making the rightdecision.
/contSeymourpowell is skilled in exploiting ideas that create real value and always look to moveclients forward creatively. Seymourpowell is not just a company of visionary thinkers, but future‘doers’. Ultimately, Seymourpowell is about making things better: better for people, better forbusiness and better for the world.Specialisms include design innovation, transportation design, ethnographic user research,strategy and new product development (NPD), trends and forecasting, product design anddevelopment, 3D structural design and 2D graphic design