Saturday, 30 April 2011

Milan 2011 - Rossana Orlandi

We didn't make it to the Wallpaper Handmade show at Brioni, Elle Decor's Young Talent at Stella McCartney or Established & Sons (strategic decisions have to be made) but there was no way we were missing out on a trip to Spazio Rossana Orlandi, the Milan institution. A highlight for many this year, the venerable Orlandi always pulls together an eclectic mix of designers and brands to produce a feast for the eyes. This year was no exception.

Set around a courtyard, designers from Scandinavia to Japan showed an amazing array of products, from porcelain birds, lighting and furniture all by Jaime Hayon, a beautiful installation by Daniel Rybakken and Story Vases by Front produced in collaboration with 5 South African women. The vases actually tell the stories of these women using traditional Zulu beadwork and touch on subjects including family, poverty and the effect of HIV on their society.

Also on show were delicate paper vases by Torafu Architects, and teardrop glass pendants by the students of Sweden's Konstfack school. A definite high point was the Oak Inside installation by Christien Meindertsma for Thomas Eyck.

To end our Milan coverage, we thought we would let the pictures do the talking, so here is a selection of what was on offer at Spazio Rossana Orlandi.

Torafu Architects

Simon Klenell & Kristoffer Undin, Konstfack

Imaginative Table by Supawan Sihapoomichit & Emilia Ӧster, Konstfack

Daniel Rybakken

Thomas Eyck

Nika Zupanc


Jaime Hayon

More images from our trip to Milan can be found on out Facebook page, simply by clicking HERE.

Thursday, 28 April 2011

Milan 2011 - The city

Matali Crasset Dip in Space by Head-Geneve and Matali Crasset

The part of the Milan fair that takes the greatest toll on footwear is that which lies beyond the glass and steel cage of Rho. The Fuori Salone is also growing at an incredible rate, with the new kid on the block, Ventura Lambrate, nipping at the heels of the more established Tortona area. Then there are the showrooms, the galleries, the Triennale, the temporary spaces........

To say it is disheartening to see Mini Coopers suspended from a crane (why?!) when you arrive in Tortona is an understatement. The area seems to have been deluged by corporate tie-ins and the young designers that gave the area its energy have been side-lined, from the Mini Coopers to the Tom Dixon collaboration with Blackberry. What is interesting about this development is understanding why these brands want to be here - they know their customers are increasingly design savvy and they know the importance of delivering a "brand experience". It's no longer just about the product.

Having said that, we did enjoy the Matali Crasset installation with HEAD Geneve, Vertigo Bird from Slovenia showcased lighting from designers including Nika Zupanc and Mathias Hahn and we stumbled across newcomer Eumenes, with designs by Paola Navone and Jean-Marie Massaud.

Boy's Lamp by Nika Zupanc for Vertigo Bird

Eus by Paola Navone for Eumenes

Young designers have migrated east to Ventura Lambrate. Now in its second year, Lambrate lacks the energy of Tortona, but that is in part down to the generous amount of space. Less claustrophobic than Tortona, shows can spread out and breathe in a way that's impossible for all but the moneyed few in Tortona.

Many of Europe's top design schools displayed works by students and recent graduates. The RCA Intent show was the perfect opportunity to show it's recently launched Design Products Collection to the wider design world. Of particular note were Will Shannon's Metro Cabinet, Jack Smith's Folding Stool and Hye-Yeon Park's In-betweening Clock we loved so much at the RCA Graduate Show in 2010.

Metro Cabinet by Will Shannon

Benjamin Hubert also popped up at Ventura Lambrate, with his Pod privacy chair in pressed PET felt for Dutch brand De Vorm. Hubert was prolific this year and Pod was certainly one of his most impressive pieces - the shell being constructed using the largest single piece of felt pressed to date.

The Brits certainly made their presence felt with 2 group shows on opposite sides of Milan. At Spazio Botta in Porta Romana SCP, Case, Ercol and Pinch came together to show the quality of British craftsmanship, working predominantly in wood. The opening party was certainly popular, but it was unclear if all those people were there for the furniture or the free beer!

Porta Romana party in full swing and Iona Cheval Mirror by Pinch

Over in Tortona, Design Junction brought together a diverse slice of the UK design world, from Wedgwood to Modus, via the re-launch of Ernest Race's mid-century classic designs and Michael Sodeau's Anything range of stationery.

We certainly think Benjamin Hubert and Nika Zupanc were the "names to note" from our whistle-stop tour of Milan.

Milan 2011 - Salone Satellite

Salone Satellite is the official area for young designers at the main fair. Unfairly tucked away at the back of Halls 22 and 24 (the furthest point from the entrance for most visitors and therefore overlooked by many), Salone Satellite gives young designers and brands a standard white cube from which to sell themselves and their designs.

Based in east London, Corinna Warm returned to Milan with a van full of new designs. Her most confident collection to date, she has garnered a lot of attention from the international design press in the last couple of weeks, and deservedly so. Her new collection of lighting, tables and even a large desk, using materials ranging from walnut to brass and gloss paint finishes, made quite the impression. Warm was also visible with in Tortona, with her Circus pendant shown last year now in production with Innermost.

Marina tables (top) and Glaze pendants (bottom) by Warm

Jarrod Lim presented the Idle rocking chair, while Atelier Takagi presented the beautiful Market Research tables in marble, wood and steel atop the New Basics table and alongside the fun, bird-like Big Bounce light.

Atelier Takagi - Market Research table (top) and Big Bounce (bottom)

Tucked away in the corner, we also found Lina Nordqvist, who presented an elegant salon complete with striking bookshelves, classic sofa and luxurious leather pouff.

It's a shame you have to walk so far to find these designers (it is worth noting that in Stockholm you will find the "Greenhouse" area adjacent the main contract hall!), who are often more exciting than the main event, but as with all the best things in life, it's worth going the extra mile!

Saturday, 23 April 2011

Milan 2011 - Zeitraum, all Wrapped up

Following on from the success of Show 2 at Viaduct, Zeitraum asked London illustration magazine Wrap to be their special guest in Milan. Wrap produced a beautiful abstract woodland scene to form the backdrop to the stand as a nod to Zeitraum's commitment to sustainable materials.

The new Morph Lounge stole the show in the "lounge area" to the rear of the stand. A compact chair that doesn't feel small thanks to the outward leaning arms, everyone agrees Morph Lounge will look equally as stunning in a reception area, breakout space, bar or in the corner of bedroom.

The stand design also showed clever ways to combine families of products from different parts of the collection. Side Comfort was teamed with the new Simple Button headboard to create a smart sofa solution for narrow areas. Of course, it was decorated with Piumino cushions in bespoke Wrap fabrics.

Struktur was used both as a floor to ceiling wall to delineate the edge of the stand and also as a high level "curtain" which worked equally well to set boundaries without impacting on the available space.

More images of Zeitraum's Milan presentation can be found on our Facebook page by clicking HERE.

The new Zeitraum brochure is available to view or download HERE. Alternatively, if you prefer to have a physical copy, please contact us directly.

Milan 2011 - Ӧrsjӧ at Euroluce

Euroluce takes place every second year as part of the Salone. Ӧrsjӧ were back in Milan this year with a confident monochrome presentation. Their 2011 collection, first shown in Stockholm in February looked resplendent almost entirely in black and white, with only some flashes of copper and brass as accents.

Crane by Benjamin Hubert, which garnered so much attention in Stockholm, was shown for the first time in black lacquer. A bright yellow finish will make an appearance soon!

The Great White by Claesson Koivisto Rune, designed for the Nobis hotel, made its premiere as part of the collection. Arched brass arms reached from the wall to present their unusual white shades.

CKR's other Nobis design, Baklava was shown in the small and medium table versions, but eagle-eyed observers would have noticed the new floor version on the Vitra stand over in Hall 20.

Joel Karlsson's Butler family looked almost unrecognisable in black and white. For the first time, the rough brass finish was replaced with white and black lacquer finishes, giving Butler an ultra-contemporary edge. It just goes to show that technically advanced products can work in modern and traditional settings, given the right finish.

Jenny Bӓck's Lean family continued to please and the new table version looks like it will be just as popular as it's floor standing big brother.

More images can be found on our Facebook page HERE.

Friday, 22 April 2011

Milan 2011 - In brief

So, the 50th Salone Internazionale del Mobile closed its doors last week and Easter is already upon us. The long weekend has given us time to reflect and absorb some of what we saw. The Salone itself is vast and due to some careful re-assignment of the halls, has managed to squeeze even more in. At the same time, the "Fuori Salone" events that populate the city have grown to over 4,000. It is a mammoth task to try and see everything (we tried and failed), so this post is entitled "In brief" - a taster of the furniture industry's annual crazy week.

Last year's Salone was blighted by the ash cloud (still a talking point, one year on) and a lack of innovation amongst manufacturers. As Europe claws its way back from recession, there were signs of new life in some quarters. Kartell heralded this tentative optimism with a flashy Las Vegas-esque stand (above). Elsewhere, the backdrop was predominantly fresh white with flashes of strong colours, as on Porro (below) but the bigger trend was for chunky, sometimes over-scaled knitting, quilting and craft.

The undisputed queen of the Salone, Patricia Urquiola, presented the Biknit lounge chair (below) and Gentry for Moroso, alongside new models of her successful Klara collection, while over on Casamania, they handed the reins to younger designers. Sophie De Vocht presented Loop (below), a dramatic chaise based on the carpet tufting process.

It must be said, it was refreshing to see new designers coming through and less of a reliance on the usual suspects (good as they can be!).

Also on Casamania, were two of the impressive 11 products by Benjamin Hubert on show in Milan this year.
Industry shelving and the Maritime wooden chair, alongside his Crane light for Ӧrsjӧ, and luggage for Nava prove he is a name to watch. At this rate, he may de-throne Ms. Urquiola!

There appeared to be fewer wasteful "window dressing" products, produced purely for their PR value. The Italian industry has struggled over the last 10 years with increased competition from Asia and the world-wide depression and they have had to evaluate where they should invest their time and money. Hopefully this will translate into fewer launches, of higher quality because they honestly believe they can be successful and not just for the column inches they generate.

The sun shone, the volcano behaved and overall some of the energy appeared to have returned to Salone.

Inlay by Front for Porro

Wolfgang by Luca Nichetto for Fornasarig

Michael Anastassiades