Aiming to create a new epicenter in Milan during the Salone, Tom Dixon made the MOST debut at the Museo Nazionale della Scienza e della Tecnologia. Dubbed the acronym of “Museum of Science and Technology,” MOST meant not only the venue, but also the theme. The show demonstrated the influence of technology on design, in terms of both materials and manufacturing processes.
At the via Olona entrance, Dezeen set up a temporary studio for press and interviews, powered by Jambox – a small wireless speaker designed by Yves Behar. The space was furnished by Tom Dixon, inspired by the legendary Factory with sheets of aluminum foil on the wall.
|Dezeen studio with Tom Dixon’s Copper Shades|
Tom Dixon’s “Luminosity” show displayed his new lighting products in a series of four interconnected tunnels. The journey began in the Mirror Maze with Fin Lights. Then there was Etch Web, a large sphere made with open irregular pentagonal structure; and Etch Shade, sheet metal perforated with a gradient pattern. These digitally manufactured objects were nothing unheard of. But the dramatic shadows and intricate lighting effects were quite amazing.
In the Air and Water Building, there was a pop-up soda bar next to the brigantine and the trans-Atlantic liner in the museum. SodaStream offered free soda drinks with no plastic bottles on site, thanks to the elegant soda machine designed by Yves Behar as a reimagined home carbonation system.
|SodaStream soda bar|
|The reimagined SodaStream machine by Yves Behar|
In this amazing 1970s structure, there was also a mini exhibition organized by Transnatural. Operating at the intersection of art/design and science/technology, Transnatural explored innovative mechanisms that play by the dynamic rules of nature, including material chemistry, magnetic forces, and gravity.
|Organic Benches and Stools by Ruben Thier|
|Gravity stools by young Dutch designer Jólan van der Wiel,|
who invented a machine to form furniture with liquid magnet.
|Thermophores by Tim van Cromvoirt. Its colors change with temperature.|
In the Railway Pavilion, the German company TRUMPF had two sheet metal machines running to punch and fold chairs and lights on site. It exposed the back stage scene of how the Tom Dixon Stamp products were made.
Quinze & Milan and David Weeks blew up the original puzzle toy Cubebot twenty times in size and created a lounge chair with the classic Q&M sponge. It was quite an imposing giant, but it gave a smile on the face of everyone who passed by.
|Cubebot lounge by Quinze & Milan and David Weeks|
At the Co-design Bar, Digital Forming set up several workstations powered with their “Co-design” platform, allowing visitors to participate in the design process of Tom Dixon lamps and speakers. Once happy with their adaptations, visitors could place an order and got the 3D printed product delivered to their home within two weeks.
|3D printed lamp shades|
|3D printed speaker covers|
|In Spring Table restaurant, people viewed the menu and ordered on Nokia’s newest smartphone.|
Inside the old monastery, young designers were presented in an almost bazaar-like atmosphere. British architect Sally Mackereth showed her CAST 001, a range of outdoor furniture formed by a special casting technique. The material seemed like a mixture of stone and metal, with a shagreen texture and a bronze patinated finish.
|CAST 001 by Sally Mackereth|
|Super-able Table by Ashley Temudo|
Another interesting thing was the Flux chair. When flat, it looked like a giant moth. While folded, it turned into a polypropylene chair. It got quite funny when they had concrete or metal texture printed on them.
|Flux chairs with printed textures|
If MOST was still artistic, showcasing how technology was used by talented designers to create beautiful objects, The Future in the Making exhibition organized by Domus and Audi had more of a raw touch. It focused on the conceptual dimensions, examining the meaning of open crowd-sourcing design culture. As Domus editor-in-chief Joseph Grima pointed out, “We are in the social media era where sharing and collaborating are essential. It’s not about secrets any more.” Everyone is part of the design process. The exhibition raised questions like “What if furniture is downloadable?” and featured new products made possible by the crow-funding platform kickstarter.com. The curators intentionally chose the Baroque Palazzo Clerici; and in high contrast, they turned this formal architecture into a vibrant factory, or a lab.
In the courtyard, Audi and designers Clemens Weisshaar and Reed Kram invited visitors to sit in their R18 Ultra Chair – Public Beta. Hundreds of stress-analysis sensors integrated into the prototype captured every movement and simultaneously displayed it as a colored force diagram. The installation thus harvested crowd-sourced data that would be fed into the chair’s design parameters, and the designers would make necessary adaptations in the final product scheduled to be presented at Design Miami in December.
|Audi’s R18 TDI race car in the courtyard of Palazzo Clerici|
|R18 Ultra Chair – Public Beta|
|Simulated force diagram|
In the Open Design Archipelago, Domus brought together a selection of designers, companies, and platforms that engaged in reshaping the philosophical, technological, material, and commercial frameworks of the design profession.
|FabLab Torino/ Vectorealism Workshops|
Dutch designer Dirk Vander Kooij operated his “Endless” robot and printed furniture on site, using recycled materials from old electrical appliances.
|Dirk Vander Kooij’s “Endless” robot|
|The printed “Endless Furniture”|
Droog didn’t present any product. Instead, they put up a show of new ideas. Optical World, a shop that sells illusions to reduce your material burden; Second Hand, a large, well-organized chain of specialized second-hand stores; Wild Goods, lead supplier of products made of natural remains; Play Shop, a game to satisfy your need for shopping without actually buying anything; Sea Treasures, a studio that makes products by fishing plastic from the sea; Solar Sinter, a device that uses sunlight and sand to print products in the desert... Real or imagined, these visionary concepts were answers from Droog for a “Future Furniture Fair.”
|“Material Matters – A Future Furniture Fair” by Droog|
The highlight of the Domus show was the richly decorated dining room. In the middle of the long table was a curious machine. “What if avant-garde gastronomy were the next frontier of 3D printing?” In a side room (kitchen?), Spanish architect José Ramon Tramoyeres of GGLab demonstrated how to apply 3D printing technology to haute cuisine. The machine made it easy to manipulate the recipe and adjust to the tastes of different customers. But in my opinion, the printed cookies and chocolates looked kind of plasticky.
|The dining room|
|3D printed food|
We have seen technology reshaping our civilization through every step in history. The digital revolution has opened up many new possibilities in design. The question is, when will all these new technologies pass the super-geek circle and become more usable and accessible?