Milan Design Week is quite unlike any other. Not knowing what to expect and not having enough time to prepare it was a mad rush trying to see as much as we could. My companion was superwoman and creative genius, Caroline Gardner whom I met when I had a flat tyre 25 years ago! But that's another story…We booked early morning flights and AirB&B apartment near the Duomo and waited till Friday to plan the weekend.
We were told to visit Brera and Ventura Lambrate, Wallpaper Arcade and Fondacion Prada. The week was very exciting, full of inspiration and extremely exhausting. Came back with several ideas for exhibitions, new international makers from Italy to Chile who will be exhibiting at Flow soon.
We should have gone to the Salone de Mobile but run out of energy on the last day and went to Fondacion Prada. We were amazed at the crowds of especially in Brera in the cobbled streets where you could hardly move! Not much English heard in the street, as most visitors seemed to be from The Netherlands, Germany and locals to who took great interest in the design events installations and venues. We met a local city tour guide who spoke 7 languages and chatted to us over a delicious goats cheese salad in the Design Academy Eindhoven enclave surrounded by bales of straw and goats and sheep. Touch Base was the title of the installation that investigated our sense of touch in an increasingly technological age. “Touch is a deep routed need, a vital cornerstone of our humanity. We will always have a desire for tactility’- which the students of Eindhoven Academy see as a social, political and human statement. This wonderful installation, probably top of our list was curated by Ilse Crawford (love Crawford’s book Home is where your heart is! And her inspiring work by her studio too) and Thomas Widdershoven.
Another interesting venue in Ventura Lambrate was the Norwegian Crafts Installation entitled Structure with their clear and understated display of ceramics and furniture. Loved the vase Vigeland by Andreas Engesvik.
Here was also found wonderful horsehair baskets and mobiles from Chile by Isabel Lecaros Studio. Her work explores the craft practices of Chile, with a focus on sustaining ancient, local traditions and techniques. The craft of weaving with horse hair, also known as Crin, dates back at least three centuries and is unique to Rari, a rural village in the Maule region of Southern Chile. It is mostly practiced by women who have passed the technique down through generations. A delicate weaving of natural or dyed horse hair creating colourful patterns or figures. We hope to exhibit them at Flow soon.
Brera Design District was home to a memorable Hay installation on a huge scale, Bulthaup Kitchens in what looked like a church and much more…
What caught my eye was a small display of beautiful silver spoons and rings by Gabi Veitfrom Sud Tirol in Italy
Gabi Veit creates jewelry that celebrates the rough and jagged shapes and outlines of her home country’s rocks and mountains. For some time now, this artist from Bolzano has also been passionately engaged with spoons. Her unique pieces composed of bowl and handle surprise the beholder with unusual shapes borrowed from plant life.
Gabi’s rings are arriving this week for London Craft Week and we hope to have a ‘spoon’ exhibition at Flow.
We also loved the wooden boxes and beautifully turned bowls by Othmar Prenner. From South Tyrol .
Rosanna Orlandi’s space comprising of gallery and shop was a wonderful discovery on our first day of walking and it included designers from the Netherlands, Thomas Eyck collaborated with Studio Wieki Somers and commissioned them to design a series of objects centered on the theme of “water”. Wieki Somers and Dylan van den Berg went on to create “Still Waters”, a series of five glass vases which each form a poetic representation of a stage in the water cycle. The vases also embody a topical theme and refer in a subtle way to man's ambiguous relationship with nature, and the impact of this relationship.
Floris Wubben with the display of erosion ceramics. The Dutch designer has created a flame-throwing device that allows him to form uneven textures across a collection of ceramics. Wubben places the wet ceramic pieces on a rotating central stand of the apparatus, while an adjustable semicircular arm holds a blowtorch. The torch applies a flame directly to the surface of the object. As the material reacts to the high temperature it creates textured layers. These can be changed by adjusting the distance between the porcelain and the flame, and the speed at which the object revolves.
Ochre furniture by a British design duo now based in Soho, New York, Danish Ceramics and Japanese jewellers and designers. A plant filled courtyard welcomed us at the entrance with a colourful café with delicious salads.‘Makers and Bakers’craft and Food installation next door but in the same building was a place to linger and appreciate well designed tableware, such as beautiful hand blown jugs by Jochem Holz, knitwear from New Zealand, recycled denim furniture by Laetitia & Matteo and Dossofiorito, a multidisciplinary design studio from Verona had several of their pieces on show. This included the Balena, suspended carafe. And Epiphytes, a collection of suspended house plants in white ceramic vases. The free food was shared at communal tables with ‘Share the Love’ motto across the walls. In total there were twenty-two designers, illustrators, and makers hailing from 14 countries, all of who have produced objects related to the communal meal.
‘Enjoying good food and appreciating thoughtful design are inherently social activities that reach across cultural lines. The moments during which we gather together to break bread, are also the moments in which great conversation is sparked and unexpected connections are made.’
MINDCRAFT -An exhibition showcasing some of Denmark's most talented craftspeople and designers. The curated exhibitions demonstrate the qualities, potentials and versatility of new Danish craft and design. We particularly liked ‘Deal with it’ a visualization ofRosa Tolnov Clausen’s method and design vision. A key focus in this process is the intersection between the carefully planned and the unpredicted. For this project, Rosa Tolnov Clausen defined five design parameters – basic weave, decoration, base colour(s), decoration colour(s) and composition – which she then combined with yarn in fifteen preselected colours in a randomized process.
The random selection process compelled her to use combinations of colours, patterns and techniques she might not otherwise have picked. By disrupting and tripping up her systematic working process, this element of chance brought out new and unexpected results. As a further challenge to her creative process, she used a basic handloom, which only allows for a fairly limited set of variations, thus further highlighting the expressive role of basic elements such as colours and yarn quality.