Frame editors’ picks at Milan Design Week 2018

Milan – Every year, Milan Design Week only seems to intensify and increase in blast radius. An industry-wide cultural phenomenon, the programme of inspiring and exciting exhibitions and events is only a few days away. From microliving spaces to meaningful digital technology to industrialized sustainability efforts, Frame breaks down the overwhelming-as-always list of names, brands and locations to only the must-sees from 17 to 22 April 2018.

Click the Frame pins on the map to discover our editors’ picks

Typecasting – Vitra
Via Palermo 10

Viennese-born and Paris-based curator and designer Robert Stadler draws on Vitra’s archives for the Typecasting exhibition, comprising some 200 objects. Showcasing current products, prototypes, rejects, special editions and future visions, the exhibition examines the social function of furniture in today’s society. Rejecting conventional furniture categorization, Stadler groups the objects outside their functional context by regarding them as characters with personality traits and behaviour patterns that reflect stereotypes in contemporary society. In addition to the emergent new connections, narratives and interpretations of Vitra products and furniture in general, a collective living space asks how societal evolution will impact furniture design conventions. Designers including Konstantin Grcic, Barber and Osgerby and Commonplace Studio as well as Stadler developed ideas for the space, titled The Communal Sofa.

Microliving and Housing – Containerwerk x Friends
Via Tortona 31

Photo courtesy of Containerwerk

German start-up Containerwerk presents solutions to temporary housing issues and the trend for urban microliving with living spaces compacted within shipping containers. Part of the global movement advocating for tiny, sometimes quirky, but always well-designed dwellings, the company presents two installations at Tortona – one on Microliving, which encapsulates all residential features in a single container – and the other on Temporary Housing, which invites visitors to question the optimal usage of the existing set-up of spaces given the growing fusion of professional and private life. While the first installation offers an eco-friendly alternative to traditional building materials – often with the added feature of mobility, the second touches upon the sharing economy and expands the Library of Things movement to include spaces as well as objects.

Living Nature – Carlo Ratti Associati
Piazza del Duomo

Embodying the forward-looking objectives of the Salone’s 2018 manifesto, La Natura dell’Abitare, or Living Nature stands proudly in front of the neoclassical Palazzo Reale. The installation unites the four seasons of spring, summer, autumn and winter in one 500-sq-m space, reversing the concept of a garden pavilion. Created by design studio Carlo Ratti Associati, Living Nature seeks to unpack the application of sustainable design and technology by offering the visitors a place to contemplate human living and design in the context of nature and the environment.

Forms of Movement – Nendo
Via Tortona 27

At the renowned studio’s solo exhibition this year, ten Japanese makers explore different ways of achieving movement through material and technology to bring our connection and interaction with the objects around us into focus. How many times have we unthinkingly sat on a chair, whether we actually wanted to sit or not? A chair was there, so we sat: automatic movement. From Zippppper Project, five zippers redesigning the familiar zipping motion and thereby their own functionality; to Press Tiles which use the stepping movement as part of a manual press production process; to Variations of Time, hourglasses that distort the linear progression of time to match our own relative experience of it; the ten designers ask us to pay attention to the way that our world of design objects can take advantage of us without our conscious knowledge.

Created using delicate production technology, Variations of Time reinterprets hourglasses to challenge a linear measurement of minutes and seconds.

Lidewij Edelkoort and Tom Dixon Design Expert Talk – Liganova x Edelkoort
Anteo Palazzo del Cinema

How does one experience intuition in design? To consider such elements as aesthetics, functionality and the relationship with the body while being aware of sustainability issues, emerging technologies, workers’ rights and a sense of globalization vs localization et cetera, today’s designer and design thinker must also be a researcher, translator, historian and futurist – meaning that transdisciplinary knowledge is the means for reaching design intuition. Presented by Liganova, trend forecaster Lidewij Edelkoort will engage in a talk with designer Tom Dixon on 19 April from 14:15-15:00. Mediated by Frame’s founder and director Robert Thiemann, the talk will consider the future of design in its various forms.

Places are limited. Tickets can be purchased here.

Hidden Senses – Sony Design
Via Savona, 56/A

At Spazio Zegna in the Tortona area of Milan, Sony Design presents Hidden Senses, a multisensorial exhibition of five case studies that reveal new perceptual experiences. Building on the modern reality that the objects around us are no longer inanimate, the exhibition shows how technology and design can create a richer, more personal environment. As design and technological innovation facilitates new interactions, the result is new sensorial experiences and emotional responses.

Mutant Matter – Dutch Invertuals x FranklinTill
Via Pastrengo 12

The creative mavericks at Dutch Invertuals show us – with more than a touch of irony – how mankind’s products are returning to nature to become the ‘resources’ of tomorrow. It’s Dave Hakkens’s Precious Plastic installation on a macro scale: according to the Dutch Invertuals and trend forecasting agency FranklinTill, we have entered the era Anthropocene, a new geological age where plastics are written into fossil record and human activity has corrupted the processes of nature forever.

Exploring our current and future relationship with materials and making, the Mutant Matter exhibition includes projects such as Onno Adriaanse’s table, which combines organic and geometric forms to illustrate the physical reaction between different materials, and Xandra van der Eijk’s work exploring the corrosion and decay of manmade materials. There is also a programme of talks in conjunction with the recent release of Radical Matter, a book by Kate Franklin and Caroline Till of FranklinTill in which the authors propose a new model for making and material thinking in a sustainable world.

Xandra van der Eijk’s work explores the geological corrosion and decay of manmade materials. Photo Dutch Invertuals

Open Sky – Cos x Philip K Smith III
Corso Monforte 35

Following the critical success and popularity of New Spring, last year’s Milan Design Week installation in collaboration with Studio Swine, London-based fashion brand Cos moves towards a more straightforward exhibition with American artist Phillip K. Smith III. Open Sky is a site-specific installation of mirrors that refer to the movement of clouds and sunlight, the beauty of the surrounding architecture, and the 16th-century Palazzo Isimbardi courtyard and garden.

Intervening on the interaction between architecture and nature, Open Sky is a more subtle work than previous Cos installations – most recently, Loop, designed by Snarkitecture, involved an interactive rollercoaster framework for marbles that turned the spheres into an architectural material – but is no less physically engaging for that. As part of the large-scale installation, Smith also contributed a series of smaller window displays at select Cos stores that adopt the reflection of the streetscape in each location, from Tokyo to Stockholm to New York City.

Circular by Design – Really
Via Palermo 1

With designers such as Benjamin Hubert, Claesson Koivisto Rune and Jo Nagasaka contributing to Really’s second Salone exhibition, Circular by Design promises to explore the industry’s full range of opportunities to shift to a circular economy of textiles. The exhibition focuses on the potential of Solid Textile Board – which debuted last year with designs by Max Lamb and Christien Meindertsma in cotton and wool – when it comes to incorporating upcycled textiles into design and architecture.

Paradigm – Fabrica x Pierre Frey
Via Ferrante Aporti 19

In Paradigm, fabric and form is distorted into three-dimensional installations that represent human needs: basic physiological ones such as rest, hygiene, and food, but also those higher on Maslow’s hierarchy such as self-expression, contemplation and social gatherings. With fabric supplied by French company Pierre Frey, Fabrica’s design team is guided by Sam Baron in the surrealistic visualization of contemporary reality. Though abstract, the dreamlike installations nevertheless resonate with the universal human condition through emergent characteristics.

The Flow of Time – Grand Seiko
Viale Alemagna 6

Japanese luxury watch brand Grand Seiko makes its grand debut at Milan Design Week this year. The Flow of Time exhibition – with Hikaru Mori as spatial designer – comprises two installations by two Tokyo-based design studios, Takt Project and Shingo Abe. Inspired by Spring Drive, a Grand Seiko mechanism characterized by its precision and longevity, the installations immerse visitors in the movement of time. Abe’s Kizamu / Nagareru installation contrasts the natural movement of the sun and stars (the ‘flowing’ of time) with the artificial mechanism of clocks (the ‘ticking’ of time) and captures how Spring Drive returns us to the gliding flow of time through the smooth movement of its second hand. Takt Project on the other hand, deconstructs the physical parts of Spring Drive into an art installation, ironically capturing holding the pieces immobile in acrylic as a commentary on the transience of time.

Bar Anne – Space Encounters | Nothing New – Lensvelt
Corso di Porta Ticinese, 95

Designed by the Frame Award-winning Space Encounters, Bar Anne is one-of-a-kind Milan Design Week experience featuring an interior created through collaboration between some of the biggest breakout talents from the Netherlands. Conceptualized in honour of Anne van der Zwaag – owner-director of Object Rotterdam, author, curator and ambassador of the Dutch design scene – Bar Anne is adjacent to Lensvelt exhibition Nothing New. Curated by Maarten Spruyt, Nothing New comprises Lensvelt tables and chairs that have been purchased secondhand from online markets like Marktplaats and eBay to be liberated with kinetic sculptures.

Visual artists Children of the Light create a spectacular installation for Bar Anne, a radical hospitality and exhibition space that welcomes the curious, creative and hungry of Milan Design Week.

The venue also plays host to the Frame Awards Milan on 18 April, where the most innovative and inspiring trade-fair stands at Salone del Mobile will be celebrated in an awards ceremony.

Soundscape – Motosuke Mandai and AGC Asahi Glass
Via Ferrante Aporti 13

Ventura Centrale returns this year with more ground-breaking exhibitions in its underground vaults beneath the Milan Central Station. The nine design spectacles include a high-tech auditory glass installation by architect Motosuke Mandai in partnership with leading Japanese glass, chemical and high-tech material manufacturer AGC Asahi Glass. Representing a musical blend of design, technology and aesthetics, Soundscape immerses visitors in a new auditory experience.

Soundscape is presented at Ventura Centrale by architect Motosuke Mandai in collaboration with leading Japanese glass, chemical and high-tech material manufacturer AGC Asahi Glass. Sound generating glass immerses visitors in a new auditory experience that represents a musical blend of design, technology and aesthetics.

For live Milan Design Week updates follow #FrameinMilan on Instagram.

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