In addition to the well established superstars, the rising young talents have brought in quite some fresh air into the Salone scene. The Bouroullec brothers, for example, are everywhere with brands like Vitra, Mattiazzi, Magis, Flos, and Alessi. I find the balance between delicacy and expressiveness in their work very attractive. Like the Osso chair, the simple assembly of four CNC-milled pieces makes an elegant and modestly expressive object.
|Osso chairs by Ronan & Erwan Bouroullec for Mattiazzi|
|Ovale by Ronan & Erwan Bouroullec for Alessi|
Designs by both former PLOT partners can be seen in Milan. Julien de Smedt is featured in the "Belgium is Design" show at the Pinacoteca di Brera, presenting his New Nordic shelves and Crushed Bowl for Muuto, a plywood stair prototype, and the Bone chair.
|New Nordic shelves and Crushed bowls by JDS for Muuto|
Bjarke Ingels shows up as part of KiBiSi, a joint venture of Kilo Design, BIG, and Skibsted Ideation. Two lamps are feature at the Danish Design Center show in Zona Tortona, alongside with Danish design legends like Kaare Klint, Verner Panton, and Poul Christiansen. Compared to JDS's operations somehow within architectural languages, KiBiSi's lamps seem to be just intending to shock...
|Bunch of Bulbs by KiBiSi|
|Knot by KiBiSi|
There is no national pavilion of Japan, but the force of Japanese design is quite strong. At the Salone, Arketipo features a line designed by Nendo, including Cube magazine storage, Link and Moya coffee tables, Eda coat stand, Hide cabinet, and Target shelves.
|Link tables (front) and Eda coat stand (back) by Nendo for Arketipo|
|Hide cabinet by Nendo for Arketipo|
|Target bookshelves by Nendo for Arketipo|
In their own showroom at the Galleria Jannone, Nendo presents more recent works under the title "Textured Transparencies." Here, we see a cast clear acrylic table top with a strong wood texture, a pendant lamp with a ring of protective film which changes transparency when seen from different angles, a chair of elastic polyurethane film mounted on only a backrest and armrests, and artificial ulexite frames that make the images behind them floating. The general message is that transparency is not about disappearing, but rather the existence in gradations and nuance.
|Transparent Table, Transparent Lamp, and Transparent Chair by Nendo|
|Transparent Frame by Nendo|
At the Triennale Museum, Nendo designs the exhibition setting for the Taiwanese design brand Yii. A forest of inflatable transparent vinyl tubes are hung from the ceiling. They blur the objects and force you to meander between them to get through. This "non-direct" approach is in a way very Asian.
In the Boffi showroom in Brera, Living Divani puts up a show to present their Junya Ishigami line. Family Chair is a collection of 5 lovely shaped steel wire chairs. Each of them has a slightly different personality (wide, tall, short, normal, and a stool), but they "live" in harmony together like a family. Drop Table is basically a lens on legs, creating intriguing optical effects. And there are also Garden Plates. Well, these things are just adorable!
|Family Chairs by Junya Ishigami|
|Drop Table by Junya Ishigami|
|Garden Plate by Junya Ishigami|
In Zona Tortona, Ishigami appears again with Sou Fujimoto and Akihisa Hirata at Spazio FMG's "Architecture as a Piece of Nature" exhibition. It's almost like a statement that a new generation of Japanese architects has matured and left the shadows of Toyo Ito, Kazuyo Sejima, and Shigaru Ban.
Although neither of the two principals of SO-IL is Japanese, their design for the Arper stand at the Salone clearly reflects the influence of Japanese sensibility they got from their SANAA years. The translucent fabric skin of the cubes produces overlapping and blurred visual effects.