• May 21, 2018
    Last updated 23 minutes ago

design diary

Milan Design Week: 5 takeaways for the region

As we bid farewell to the 2018 edit of the global event, here is what our regional designers can learn from their global counterparts

17:28 April 24, 2018

THE POWER OF SIMPLICITY

Very often, the urge to over-design, over-produce and over-embellish can cloud one’s judgement. In those moments, ask yourself, is that little bit extra really required? From site specific installations to products, designers and brands from around the world are favouring clean lines and minimal materiality.

Case in point, one of the most Instagrammed installations from the event, the American artist Phillip K Smith III’s latest work that was displayed in the courtyard of a 16th-century palazzo. This mammoth, faceted structure had just one hero material — mirror. Applied along clean angles and a humble curve, the reflective surface offered a kaleidoscopic play on light, form and structure.

Even as the installation revealed the courtyard’s hidden details and offered a psychedelic selfie moment, there was a meditative quality about the work that afforded the visitor stillness in the midst of the design madness.

DIVINE EXPRESSION

Isn’t it surprising, how so many cultures — diverse as they may be — have similar folk tales about the sun, stars, nature and humanity? What makes each tale unique for its region is a cloak of circumstance and interpretation. For her first collection of chairs, designer Lara Bohinc sought inspiration from the skies above. Aptly titled Since the World is Round, the spherical form that characterises the collection is derived from gravitationally curved trajectories of planetary and lunar orbits.

Simultaneously ancient and futuristic, precious finishes and plush upholstery allude to the divine connection of the collection. Closer home, Dubai-based designer Talin Hazbar has previously turned to Kahf al Baba, a folk tale that originates from villages between Khor Fakan and Fujairah for a lighting collection. Can we please find more inspiration in where we come from, what fascinates us and the stories we grew up with? Designers are, after all, cultural ambassadors and story tellers.

THE CIRCULAR LIFE OF DESIGN

What goes up, must come down. What is used, must generate waste. It’s all true. Which is why, an eye on sustainability is critical for the continued growth of the design market. Finding new-gen solutions to waste generated by the textile design industry is at the heart of ‘Really’, the brand whose parent company is leading Danish fabric label Kvadrat. They debuted their latest invention, the ‘Solid’ textile board.

Developed from upcycled end-of-life fabrics from the fashion and textile industries, it’s potential was showcased via a range of products created by A-list designers such as Benjamin Hubert, Christien Meindertsma, Front and Raw Edge. From a zippable room divider and a chair, to a cupboard with a wavy form, the presentation explored a wide, functional and aesthetic expression of waste textiles. Rather than burying our industrial and construction waste in dump yards, can more regional designers lead the way in repurposing waste into contemporary living solutions?

JOIN FORCES

When New York designer Lindsey Adelman and wallpaper maestro Calico found out that they were both experimenting with similar surface techniques, they presented a joint show Beyond the Deep that explored the corrosive natural chemicals, like salt, to alter the appearance of surfaces. Studies have shown that co-branding, co-presenting, co-llaboration — the elements of partnership — are the key pillars on which the design industry will grow. There is the logistic benefit — sharing expertise, resources and costs — but it is the coming together of diverse thought processes and creative expressions that can fast-track creative economies. We are already seeing this phenomenon gain ground — Nike’s partnership with Riccardo Tisci, Victoria Beckham X Range Rover Evoke, H&M X Moschino. This cross pollination opens new market segments and helps diversify product offering.

HAVE SOME FUN

Make no mistake, creative business is serious business; but that doesn’t mean designers shouldn’t have some fun. Maybe as an antidote to the current social and economic climate, or maybe just because they can finally let their hair down, many top tier brands stepped away from their typical business-oriented presentations to explore an alternative universe.

Czech glass brand Lasvit took over Teatro Gerolamo, a 19th-century puppet theatre to present Monster Cabaret, its latest collection of accessories centred on mythical beasts, fantastical creatures and outcasts. While it wasn’t what one has come to expect from the brand — in terms of product category and creative expression at least — the brand remained true to its philosophy of presenting new innovations in Bohemian glass manufacturing.