The annual Milan Design Week has long been the established benchmark of the industry. Comprised of the massive Salone del Mobile furniture fair and the city-wide Fuorisalone program, the global event sets the trends for the year to come. In the past few decades, Milan Design Week has expanded into much more than just a commercial meeting place. Today, hundreds of cultural, academic, and experimental platforms and institutions join in on the festivities, creating a rich dialogue and often cross-pollinating with major furniture, lighting, and accessory product brands.
In recent years, the ever-growing and evolving high-end, limited-edition design market has also entered the game. More and more of the world’s leading galleries, online purveyors, and high-end producers have capitalized on Milan Design Week’s sheer size to promote their particular niche. This luxury focus places perfectly against the backdrop of the city’s dramatic art deco facades and baroque palaces. This sector of the industry has often provided emerging talents with the time and space to experiment and so, its inclusion in Milan Design Week makes perfect sense.
Among this year’s offerings, major online platform 1stdibs placed key limited-edition works in an impressive penthouse while leading Brazilian design gallery Espasso collaborated with British lighting brand Tala to present a shared showcase. Experimental venues like Alcova played host to emerging high-end brands while young conceptual collectives set up shop in their own locales. Districts like 5vie hosted numerous craft-led and gallery-supported exhibits. Some displays went so far as to enter the realm of art. Major collectible fair Design Miami was also in town to announce its new curatorial program—helmed by Aric Chen—and the recipients of its Swarovski Designers of the Future Award. Here are a few highlights MODERN came across during its exhaustive tour of this month’s Milan Design Week.
Collection IV by Marta Sala Éditions
High-end furniture producer Marta Sala Éditions debuted its fourth collection, developed with architect’s Claudio Lazzarini and Carl Pickering, during this year’s Milan Design Week. Continuing to promote the revived art deco trend, the Italian boutique design brand reveals the new Carl and Claudio sofas, Madina armchair, the René and Tancredi ottomans, the Murena stool, the Christine design, and the Ranieri table.
Interlude by Apparatus
New York design duo Apparatus, which also maintains a showroom in Milan, debuted its Interlude collection during Milan Design Week. Inspired by the aesthetics and structure of symphonic music, the new collection—consisting of tables, sconces, and cabinets—is a departure from the practice’s serial production pieces. Created using age-old leather, alabaster, Carpathian Burl, Eel Skin, and hand embroidery techniques, the highly-crafted, decorative pieces are refreshingly varied. While the base structures of each piece were created in Apparatus’s New York workshop, much of the skilled finishing work was done by Indian artisans.
LUNA by Gabriel Scott
Montreal-based boutique lighting company Gabriel Scott debuted the Luna collection at this year’s Euroluce section of the Salone del Mobile. The new modular chandelier in various glass-blown and tubular elements. While the former pays homage to traditional glass production in Murano, the latter refers to lighting industry standard forms. Arranged in different configurations, the new striking fixture stays true to the jewelry-inspired aesthetic synonymous with the brand. Soft, translucent tones evoke the moon’s light and soft glow.
Of Movement and Material by Philipp Weber for Analog, Berlin Glas
Presented at Alcova Sassetti, the experimental platform’s second location, Of Movement and Material is a new lighting collection by German designer Philipp Weber (featured in Summer 2018 issue). The new glass-blown collection translates the talent’s narrative-driven experiments and sculptural works into a product application but also launches glassworks Berlin Glas’ Analog lighting brand. Similar to Weber’s previous projects, Of Movement and Material investigates how the human body and an amorphous substance like glass can influence each other; a dance between maker and material.
Edition 2 ‘Bodem’ by BRUT-collective
BRUT-collective represents a group of emerging, experimental Belgian designers that share a similar vocabulary and design approach. Each year, the collaborative comes together to develop a capsule collection of limited edition designs based on a theme. Whereas last year’s focus was renewed brutalism, this year’s collection explores the concept of soil as a fundamental conduit for archeology and layered history. The collection includes Bram Vanderbeke’s waxed concrete New Primitives and Casted Object stools and tables, Linda Freya Tangeldar’s (Destroyers/Builders) bras High Section shelving unit, Charlotte J-nckheer’s linen and bamboo silk Souffle carpet, and Nel Verbeke’s Jesmonite, copper, and earth From Autumn to Spring clock, among others.
Far at Nilufar Depot
Nilufar gallery tapped experimental agency Studio Vedét to curate and Space Caviar to design a group exhibition at its expansive depot location. The subversive Far exhibition brought together limited-edition and conceptual designs from young fledgling European designers, who in the past few years have formed collective and cooperative working models. Much like the radical designers of the 1970s, these talents create functional objects and non-functional sculptures that challenge the conventions of production and consumption. Among the exhibited designers were Alberto Vitelio, Audrey Large, Johan Viladrich, Julien Manaira, Michael Schoner, Odd Matter, Thomas Ballouhey, and Wendy Andreu.
Doppia Firma 2019
Doppia Firma is a curatorial project that brings together innovative designers with expert artisans from throughout Europe to create an eclectic collection of original houseware objects. Each object carries two signature elements that are either expressed through form, aesthetics, or a functional determinate. This year’s collection includes works by Sam Baron and Ricardo Alegria for Vista Alegre; Tomás Alonso & Urs Bally for Wiener Silber Manufactur; Karsten k. Krebs and Winfried Zeus for Porzellan Manufaktur Nymphenburg; Maarten de Ceulaer and Atelier Mestdagh, Emmanuel Babled and Fundação Ricardo do Espirito Santo Silva, and many others.