We have reached the mid-point of Milan Design Week when design themes and variations start taking shape. Always a cultural barometer the fair is also a platform for broader issues. This year exhibitions are tackling ethical consumption, reversing the waste stream and living smaller, to investigating our connection with technology – big social issues that are focusing the attention of designers globally.
At Rossana Orlandi, Orlandi herself announced: “make plastic guiltless”. Inside a room designed by Jacopo Foggini (well known for his research into plastics for Edra) a program of talks and presentations is dedicated to the project ’Sense of Guilt’’ looking at plastics recycling and how to turn a problem into a creative opportunity. The ongoing initiative has Michele De Lucchi, Livia Peraldo, Li Edelkoort, Cristina Morozzi, Alessandro Mendini, and Massimiliano Adami onboard, while Australian designer Alexander Lotersztain exhibited his 100% recycled plastic QTZ chair developed with an Italian research lab.
The Brera Design District hosted 'Be Human: Designing with Empathy' curated by Raffaella Guidobono and involving more than 100 exhibitors. While at via Tortona London-based Studiomama presented ‘MINI Living – Built By All’, a show they describe as a "micro-city" and demonstrating how a 20 square metre living space, well designed, can be liveable, functional and offer up solutions for cities tackling the biggest growth moment in history.
Visitng the Kartell Museum, we were taken back in time with an exhibition organised in collaboration with the Achille Castiglioni Foundation to celebrate Achille Castiglioni’s 100th birthday.
A show that traces the history between one of the world's best-known designers and Kartell, it is the first exhibition that looks at all of Castiglioni's designs for the brand. It is a collection that goes back to 1959 and includes the KD lights, the Rocchette coffee table and stool, and a system of modular mirrors. It’s a fantastic show that offers new insights into the designers' (Achille and his brother Per Giacomo) sophisticated reinterpretations of familiar shapes. Using subtle irony pieces are characterised by rich finishes and bold colours. This is one of many shows this year organised by the Achille Castiglioni Foundation. The exhibition continues beyond Milan Design Week with special guided tours in partnership with the foundation.
On top of the three exhibitions in and around Milan, Kartell also launched its new collaboration with Moschino and the fashion label's creative director Jeremy Scott. Together the design teams have reimagined the iconic teddy bear as a table lamp. Called 'Toy', the lamp was photographed all over the city and has become Kartell's latest novelty. Other highlights from the Kartell collection include the Matrix chairs by Tokujin Yoshioka, the Woody and Sun Tan collections by Philippe Stark, the Shanghai coffee table by Mario Bellini, Be Bop by Roberto Palombo, and the reissue of Joe Colombo's K28 lamp. Kartell also released a new range of bathroom products with Laufen that are clean and minimal in their approach.
Finally, the exhibition ‘Unsighted’ curated by Canadian art dealer Nicolas Bellavance-Lecompte deserves a mention. It involved eight designers who were all were given an open brief to create pieces for a location, site-unseen. Inside the Milanese apartment building where Australian outfit Local Design is also showing this week, colourful, wallpapered rooms reveal work from the softly coloured cast-glass vessels are embedded with copper mesh by Omar Arbel, to forms reinterpreting industrial and classical ruins by Roberto Sironi. It's a beautiful and poetic show that reveals the very personal fabric of this city
more space will be back tomorrow with news from day four of Milan Design Week. All images by Space Furniture's photographer on the ground in Milan, Filippo Bamberghi, and supplied by Kartell.