Milan 2009 Recap

We visited hundreds of exhibits, took thousands of pictures, and talked to an amazing quantity of people; we got inspired, surprised, and intrigued during the fantastic 5 days of Milan Design Week 2009 and we'd like to share some of that with you. Here's our Milan 09 Recap.
Tom Dixon

The Milanese Design Week is by far the most important event of the international design scene and the 2009 edition was a particular one, it opened its doors in a general atmosphere of anxiety and concern for the global economical crisis and the expectations to see how design creatives and manufacturers would react to it were just enormous. 
Understanding the real magnitude of the crisis in the design industry implies the cold analysis of numbers but math has never been my call and I'll happily leave that to experts. My personal sensation is that for a flexible industrial system such as the Italian and the European one, based in medium and small sized companies that invest in innovation, experimentation and excellence, the crisis is a great opportunity, the perfect chance for a change that seems to be looking back in time.
The industry's reaction to the crisis could be coming from the past, the return to the very roots and values that made Italian design the number one player in the world seems to be the crisis antidote for some companies: ideas, research and the perfect balance of all the aspects of the object: function, production, semiotics, aesthetics, ethics, ecology
Design seems to have re-discovered itself as the holistic discipline capable of inventing real solutions as opposite to the stylish, decorative approach focused in the expression value of products that we have seen ruling the scene the past years. More substance and less form. 

Big names such as VitraArtek and Luceplan left behind the fabulous prototypes and launched one or few products, fully developed and engineered and just ready to be distributed. The famous light company presented the stunning Hope lamp designed by Francisco Gomez Paz and Paolo Rizzatto, born out of a 20 months long creative and technological innovation process that allow them to obtain outstanding optical effects out of a superficially textured polycarbonate sheet.  

A detail of the polycarbonate lenses that form the Hope chandelier designed by Gomez Paz and Rizzatto and manufactured by Luceplan

Also smaller companies such as the german E15 that showed the beautiful bent plywood Houdini chair designed by Stefan Diez inspired in airplane model-making technique or the Italian Plank that together with Konstantin Grcic developed the half plastic-half wood chair Monza, used the formula Idea + Technology to achieve intelligent products generated out of the depth and breadth of creative and technological research.
E15 Houdini chair by Stefan Diez for E15, made out of a series of bended plywood sheets glued to the solid base, no screws or nails are used.

Monza chair by Konstantin Grcic for Plank showcases a solid wood frame and a plasic moulded backrest.

The awareness of the definitive imprint of serial production has become vital for many designers and manufacturers, Design has understood the importance of its actions and is reacting positively, building up a common culture of conscious consuming and generating sustainable, ethical and healthy products. 

The interpretation of these concepts is very wide and sometimes opposed. British designer Tom Dixon launched a collection of fully utilitarian products based in extra durable and solid materials such as wood, glass and steel; as a contrasting proposal the swedish trio Claesson, Koivisto and Rune presented Parupu, a children's chair made of water resistant paper pulp meant to last only a few years and then be fully recycled. 

Tom Dixon
Tom Dixon's utilitarian stool made of solid wood and cast iron.

ParupuParupu is the children chair made of a single piece of paper pulp mixed with ... the chair has been designed to last the years of a childhood and then to be fully recycled.

The nordic company Artek developed the 10-Unit-System designed by Shigeru Ban, based in UPM ProFi, an innovative material made of recycled plastic and paper the japanese architect conceived a one-piece L shaped modular system that forms tables and chairs. 

10-Unit-System by Artek

French designer Francois Azambourg did his part with the Lin94 chair that features a highly innovative composite made of linen fibres and vegetal resin, surprisingly lightweight and resistant but particularly ecological.  

A detail of the natural linen fibres embedded in vegetal resin by Francois Azambourg.

I have spotted a promising grown-up and conscious design industry, capable of reinventing materials and processes to deliver intelligent, efficient, performing, beautiful and sustainable products. 
The design industry is growing to be more mature and greener than ever; I have no idea to which extent this holistic approach to design will get to be the mainstream in the contemporary industry but I know there is certainly an impressive amount of creatives and companies that can keep up to the promise.


Thanks so much for posting this awesome information! Looking forward to seeintg more blogs.

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