Salone Del Mobile 2006

by , 19.04.2006

[from Milan Design Week, by Ann Poochareon]

Milan's Salone Del Mobile 2006 listed more than 1,500 exhibitors and more than 350 events spread around the city. It is the largest furniture and design fair in the world, drawing tens of thousands of visitors to the city and even more furniture and products on display. As I worked my way through all the recommended "hot spots" collecting flyers and handouts, trying out differently configured couches, taking photos of whatever looks cool, I must have seen about thousands of designer objects, both brilliant and boring. Here's a short list of what retained in my memory the most:

Bloom-room by Nendo
Nendo is led by Japanese architect-designer Oki Sato and this year they had an exhibit in a small gallery on via Tortona that feature two very lovely products. One is a set of three nested glass-top coffee tables that form different shadow patterns when intersecting each other:

But the show stopper of the event is the Bloom Light (or I hope I remember the title correctly). Either hung from the ceiling or sticking straight up from the ground, the Bloom Light has these long metal petals that open up slowly like a flower as the light turns on. And once reached its maximum state, the light shuts off after a few seconds and the petals slowly closes. There were several of these lights in the gallery, opening and closing as if the gallery was somehow alive. The milky white color and aesthetic for the whole installation was just as perfect as Japanese design can be:

  

We suspected that the petals are made out of memory metal, an alloy in which regains its shape when heated -- and if we're right, this is an ingenious usage of the material. Here's the video:

No information about these two is yet available on Nendo's site, but hopefully coming soon: http://www.nendo.jp

***

Wooden Stereo -- MadEindhoven
MadEindhoven showcased a handful of clever objects typical of Dutch designs, but what really caught my eye was the wooden stereo by StudioJSPR. The marrying of wood and electronics is near and dear to my heart (see NiceBots and CommPose), and I've seen a few designer products of this combination coming out recently but nothing quite achieve the pleasing aesthetic like this one:


picture from StudioJSPR site

From what I saw, the controls are edged into the wood surface and make use of touch sensors, which eliminate the need for any knobs, resulting in a clean and elegantly minimal wooden object that works as hi-fi equipment. Their website boost the same system made in ceramics and hardstone. And yes, you can certainly plugin your iPods.

***

Garden of Delight -- Droog Design
The quintessential Droog Design's exhibition this year used a theme of outdoor relaxation, with their gallery completed with a huge paper cut-out forest scene and a picnic table where you can eat bread and cheese. I was pleased to see two geeky interactive projects exhibited along side the more typical designy things. One was the Tickle Salon, robotic installation, and the other was the audio blanket Undercover created by designers at the Interaction Design Institute Ivrea (which moved to Milan). For people like me, those who seek to merge technology into art/design/fashion or what-have-you, Droog Design exhibiting projects coming from our field is an early sign of acceptance into the more traditional field of product design. Interactive design isn't about making or using existing technologies, but more of adapting new technologies into the things of everyday lives -- a tickle machine or a blanket with embedded speakers may not be something you see everyday, but it's something you could possibly see in the future. So it's great to see stuff I'm already familiar with being shown under a prestigious design tag, but I digress... (see the links above for info about the mentioned project, I was so excited I forgot to take photos.)

Two other things that I thought were really nice at the Garden of Delight were the Shadylace and Solid Poetry. Shadylace is an oversized picnic umbrella made out of lace-like material that casts a floral shadow pattern onto the ground. Perhaps not made for the rain, but I could see it being really cute for the outdoor cafes on a sunny spring day. Solid Poetry is a set of concrete tile which reveals, again, floral pattern, when wet. They're perfectly whimsical for a garden walkway on a rainy day, or a pool-side shower, or something of the sorts.

  

***

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