Friday, April 29, 2011

Report Milano 6 - Teaming Up

It's a tradition that furniture brands would team up with architects to develop product or showroom design. At the Salone del Mobile this year, Olivari reviews its 100 years of collaboration with architects and designers, from Gio Ponti, BBPR to more contemporary big names like Toyo Ito and Steven Holl.

Horm once again manufactures a Steven Holl design. It's a system of hexagonal modulars that can be flanked into various configurations. It can function as a stool or a side table, available in Lecce stone and okoume wood. Jean Nouvel's "Vienna" for Wittmann is also a modular system. It can be arranged into a chaise lounge or sofas of different length.

In its showroom on via Manzoni, Alessi launches the Piana chair by David Chipperfield. Near Porta Volta, Lumina shows the FLO reading lamp by Foster+Partners. I really appreciate the simplicity and elegance of these British designs.

On the other side of the spectrum, Zaha Hadid designs the flamboyant Z-Chair for Sawaya & Moroni. It's probably the only chair in the city that doesn't allow visitors to sit on. I guess it won't look as "attractive" if it has fingerprints all over the polished stainless steel surface after use. In the basement of the S&M showroom, there's also the Daniel Libeskind designed tea set. OK, speechless.

Hermès has hired Shigaru Ban (with his Pompidou-Metz partner Jean de Gastines) to design a temporary pavilion at La Pelota for its new interior collections. It's the first time I've got to see Shigaru Ban's signature cardboard tube structure. Woven with paper and joined by cardboard planes, the tubes form the envelope of a sequence of intimate and calm spaces.

Similarly intimate but with a more substantial material - stone, "Nucleus" by Manuel Aires Mateus for Pibamarmi's bathroom line is featured in a group exhibition of stone design at the Triennale Museum. It seems to be a reduced version of "A Temple for Stone Gods" shown last year.

Bisazza is going artsy this year, with an exhibition at Triennale of Alessandro Mendini's sculptures using Bisazza mosaics.

Corian is famous for teaming up with architects and designers to demonstrate the potentials of this high-tech (and expensive) material in the occasions of the Salone. We've seen Marc Newson's Diode lamps (2003), Ron Arad's Oh-Void chair (2004), Zaha Hadid's Z-Island kitchen (2006), and Jean Nouvel's Lumières back-lit cabinets (2007). This year, Corian has a surprise: a TRON-inspired show with Disney in Zona Tortona. The first room is Flynn's Arcade with brightly lit walls and digital display on the table. The next is dark with the fancy Light Cycle in the spotlight. The highlight of the show is Kevin Flynn's safe house. I don't necessarily like the extravagant design. But no doubt it shows a fascinating life-style. And of course, the Daft Punk soundtracks in the background add a lot to the theatrical effects.


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