Milan Design Week 2012


Written by Kate Kelsall
19 Thursday 19th April 2012

The Temporary Museum for New Design at Superstudio Pui

Forming part of the Tortona Design Week a sizable chunk of the action goes down in the Temporary Museum for New Design which in its own ambitious words, encompassed "40 international brands, 200 designers to discover, 2 locations, 3 restaurants, 1 temporary shop, 13,000 square meters, partnerships with more than 40 international newspapers, over 100,000 expected visitors and 3000 journalists".

Downright dazzling design commissions were a crowd pulling facet of this year’s festival. Check out Studio Toogood’s much anticipated, multi-sensory, perception-soothing ‘hospital for the senses’ at MORE and  ‘Lin Jing Yin’s interactive taboo smashing TOUCH THE SOUND for a flavour of what was on offer. Our personal favourite however has to go to NEOREAL IN THE FOREST created by Ryuji Nakamura, Mintdesigns and Nobuhiro Shimura; digital technology creates a deeply layered interpretation of worldwide forests. Hats off to Canon for commissioning this bad boy.


At the opposite end of the spectrum, down on the funky nick nack front there was plenty on show to catch the eye. Highlights included Antonio Arico’s watering can,  teapot hybrid, merging home and garden, two for the prize of one - just the ticket if your pot plants look a little lacklustre and could do with a cuppa.

Furniture is obviously going to be a biggie at any design fair; We can’t cover the whole household within this wordcount so a ‘chair off’ it is. After all "no type of furniture is so prevalent in daily life, or so integral to human endeavor and bodily comportment as the chair, that can thus explore the relationship between development and heritage, technology and artistry” as designer Zhu Xiaojie of the Slow Seating - Contemporary Chinese Design exhibition so profoundly put it.

Antonio Arico kills two birds with one stone

With IKEA about to take over East London, its nice to see a Swedish plastic wielder with some genuine sass and imagination. Saran Yen’s Cheap Ass Elites take classic fiddly and flamboyant chair leg designs associated with wood and fashion them in zany colours, out of crappy plastic usually used to make laundry baskets. Also hewn from plastic, Philippe Starck’s Master Stools for Kartel have gained a lot of attention and there is definitely something sinuous and seriously stylish about them. However our winner has to be Werner Aisslinger’s batty creation - a chair growing within a greenhouse. Maarten De Ceulaer’s bobbly ‘Mutation Series’ seats also certainly make a statement.

Werner Aisslinger's Chair Farm

Green thinking permeated much of the work on show and some interpreted this along more pragmatic lines, than the tomfoolery on display above. We love Martí Quixé’s lapin kulta solar kitchen, which uses spacey looking solar panels and the power of the sun to cook food. Conscious cleansing BBQs here we come!

When it comes to interior decorating the expression ‘it’s all about the lighting’ gets bandied about irritatingly liberally, but for most this probably means Poundland fairy lights and a few candles. Milan Design Week took awesome mood lighting to another level, with a few of our favourites to follow. The bubble bulb from FRONT is snazzy in an unflashy way. For downright silly decadence however, Philippe Starck (of Master Stools, so you would expect no less) is your man with Marie Coquine - a conceptual candelabra incorporating an umbrella and complemented by the sound of rain and thunder. However at $29,500 its a bit of a leap up from a lava lamp.

Marie Coquine by Philippe Starck

Seen anything to transform your home, or will you be sticking to IKEA and lava lamps for now? 

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