After Milan: more material innovation we have seen

The Milan Design Week attracted this year 400,000 visitors, a new record, and focused mainly on colour and exuberance after all the gloomy natural and sustainable colours of previous years. Aside from that, the theme “Materials” was abundantly present in various small and large exhibitions, about recycling, biobased materials and craftsmanship.

Milano Design Award
First of all, 2 award winners out of 6 categories of the Milano Design Award were material manufacturers. The first is Lasvit, a Czech glass manufacturer, with their “Monster Cabinet”. Various artists gave their own interpretation to the word monster, and Lasvit made their designs from glass. The project won “[f]or [it]s extraordinary ability to make the products communicate with the context and the spectators, staging in an ironic and unsettling way the marvels of matter and creativity in all its nuances“.

The second award was won by material manufacturer Italcementi Heidelberg Group and their 3D printed house. Read more about this project here.

Forbo showed at the Milan Design Week their new floor Fabscrap, which is made using waste material from the production of Sphera homogenous vinyl. In the Zero Waste factory, the granulate is reused in a random mix of colours to make a premium, phthalate-free, and near-zero emission flooring. In addition, Forbo showed the result of their collaboration with Philippe Starck, in which they use a digital printing technique to print the vision of the creator on the floor.

Mutant Matter
Mutant Matter, created by Dutch Invertuals, includes entirely new materials and revaluations of old ones, experiments with recycled objects and repurposed waste streams, and radical new methods of making and thinking about design. Material wise, we were struck by Xandra van der Eijk’s work, which explores the geological corrosion and decay of artificial materials.

Wood in Progress
The project Wood in Progress by Envisions and Finsa is a sequel to last year’s Wood in Process. 6 of last year’s 12 designers returned to further develop their projects.

One of the designers, Simone Post, played last year with the tension between natural and artificial by adding prints based on exaggerated versions of grains and knots found in wood to pieces of MDF. This year, she developed the prints, researching the potential of the CNC machine by using different sizes and shapes to reveal the underlying fibrous layers of MDF.

Aukje Fleur Janssen created a festive palette of pattern wrapped Finsa board, created by dressing up their board material in blocks, scraps and ribbons of brightly coloured paper. This year, Janssen matured the paper assemblage boards to be durable and play proof, using the production process of melamine.

Elvis Wesley’s previous project Graved Grids staged a landscape of black, architectural, grid structures – some stained with a lustrous finish of wax. Diving deeper, Wesley transformed the protective performance of wax finishes into a decorative and appealing element of the board. By applying different colours of finishing in an irregular manner, a varicoloured range of black and grey hues appear, carrying a depth that is both durable and alluring.

Roos Gomperts collaborated with Wesley to explore the aesthetic potential of veneer by applying its functional manufacturing steps as decorative elements, highlighting the gluing, cutting and taping stages of strips of veneer.

Sanne Schuurman exposed the inner fibrous texture of Finsa material, this year on an industrial scale.

Rather than concealing MDF, Thomas Trum dyed the wood fibres in the material in a variety of colours, compressing them into festive solid sheets by hand. This year, the production process was scaled up.

The beautiful work of Italian woodworker Lorenzo Franceschini shows the possibilities of wood. He believes in genuine craftsmanship and has a passion for woodworking. He began to construct simple shapes, seeking for an opening through the soul of wood with which he creates a dialogue, breaching through traditional techniques, navigating through the material’s secrets and creating unique pieces that are a celebration of nature and art.

Speaking of craftsmanship: the famous origami artist Tomoko Fuse created with designer Denis Guidone beautiful light objects, based on Karesansui, the Japanese rock garden or “dry landscape” garden. Origami as a technique to form paper, textile, metal and all other flexible materials into a 3D shape is hugely popular in design, fashion and design.

Circular, fun, digital techniques and craftsmanship: all current material themes that were represented in a great variety this year in Milan. We are looking forward to next year!

For more Milan Design Week, click here.

Photo credits: see photos