The word on everyone’s lips in Milan this year was bioplastic. From Rossana Orlandi’s RO Plastic Design Prize, to architect Arthur Mamou-Man’s bioplastic installation for COS and Kartell’s release of their second furniture collection using bioplastic – the first a new chair by Antonio Citterio in 2017 and now their re-release of the iconic Componibili storage unit designed by Anna Castelli Ferrieri in 1969 – this growing interest in material innovation and the circular economy is where the design industry and their research departments are focusing. While other additions to the new Kartell collection include the Be Bop armchair, S/Matrik stool, Trulli table container and the Big Battery lamp, with the welcome addition of new finishes across the collections including ceramic, marble and wood, and Kartell’s first steps into A.I. in collaboration with Philippe Starck.
Celebrating its 70th anniversary during Milan Design Week with the exhibition “The Art Side of Kartell”, curators Ferruccio Laviani and Rita Selvaggio unveiled the show inside the famous Appartamento dei Principi in Milan’s Palazzo Reale. The dialogue between art and design is a theme Kartell has nurtured over seven decades and this became the narrative for the show. Eleven rooms ‘dressed’ with past and present designs came to life across large film projections and within semantic stories, with research, innovation, and revolutionary processes of technology charting Kartell’s domestic objects from the early days of post-WWII design, through to contemporary pieces using innovative materials including bioplastic.
The launch of one of Kartell’s most famous designs in bioplastic highlights the importance of this research for the brand. The Componibili has been part of the Kartell catalogue for 50 years and is now made with a plant-based ‘plastic’ developed by the Kartell research department in collaboration with Bio-on. It’s a move that continues this line of research undertaken in collaboration with Antonio Citterio and the launch of the Bio chair in 2017. Other highlights from the new Kartell collection include the Be Bop armchair, S/Matrik stool, Trullo table container and Big Battery lamp.
While Rossana Orlandi and COS both took on initiatives that focused attention on recycling and rethinking materials within the context of a closed loop, cradle-to-cradle approach. The RO Plastic Prize opened up the challenge to designers internationally to look at ways to design with waste plastics. Looking at the opportunities of this endless resource, winners presented furniture made of recycled plastic and fabrics made from plastic bags.
Swedish fashion brand COS again opened up conversations with its installation “Conifera”, an immersive piece that crossed the traditions of craftsmanship with a “new futuristic language". Working for the fist time with French architect Arthur Mamou-Mani, the digitally fabricated pavilion guided visitors through the gardens and courtyard of the 18th century Palazzo Isimbardi. Made with bioplastic formed with a 3D printer, the structure explored the potential of parametric design and combined architecture with the capabilities of digital fabrication and renewable materials, one of the most interesting development that is shaking up the traditions of our built environment.
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