Milan Design Week was held from 7 to 12 June. On the Belgium is Design Map, we counted no fewer than 109 presentations. What will we most remember about this edition? In this overview we take a look back and we present 23 new Belgian products.
We counted 262,608 visitors to the Salone. This number is not quite as high as the peak years when there were almost 400,000, but it was more than the 60,000 or so visitors of last September. We didn’t see that much innovation; it was all a touch “respectable”, both at the fair and in the city. In the city, or on its outskirts to be more precise, Alcova was the big crowd puller. Every year, Isola is increasingly becoming the platform for young designers, while Tortona and Brera retain their status. Certosa, the latest initiative of Margriet Vollenberg who once started Ventura, was too far out of town to be a success.
The participants of the Belgium is Design stand had many contacts with galleries and companies, and some made concrete agreements at the fair. Everyone thought the Concept Expo design for the stand was a great success. And moreover, Studio Gilles Werbrouck won the second prize of the Salone Satellite Award. Hurray!
- Textile designer Gilles Werbrouck and visual artist Hugues Loinard collaborated on the development of experimental objects in which they combine crocheted magnetic tapes with plaster casting. The result has a unique sculptural and mechanical quality. The VHS tape, which appears randomly on the surface of the plaster, captures the light.
- In September, Studio Part presented Tafel π made of thin steel sheet material and the unique bolt system from System P5. Now they have perfected the same system for a modular wall rack. The whole is simply screwed together, despite the fact that the sheets are even thinner.
- Henge by Fractall is inspired by ancient circular stone structures such as Stonehenge. The bench translates these cues into a curved seat supported by three columns, placed at irregular angles. This imperfection and the weathered black gradient finish allude to the transience of matter. The modular design allows six benches to take the form of a circle, or when arranged in a ribbon shape, they can form any desired composition.
From a combination of material experiments and the need for a multifunctional stool for his own use, Daan De Wit designed the Beetle Stool, a stool with subtle details of a beetle. Three legs and a seat were individually extracted from a stainless steel sheet, then folded, welded and polished. Finally, they were heated to make the stainless steel change colour. These polished colours and beetle-like shapes make him dream back to his childhood. On display previously at Collectible in Brussels.
Guaro by Elias Van Orshaegen consists entirely of recycled material, as indeed do all his other designs. In Milan he showed a version of the side table made of Douglas and Oregon wood. But for the photo shoot he used a version made of old tropical hardwood train carriage floors in dialogue with surplus and scratched aluminium.
Studio Tim Somers was also present, with its unique and handmade C¹ chairs. Finally, Wouter Persyn presented some pieces of furniture from his architectural Gordn Steel series. More about their work can be found in our preview article about Milan 2022 (in Dutch).
Salone del Mobile
Almost all Belgian companies returned to the Salone. And yet we see more and more big brands moving into the city. Not only in Milan, by the way; we also noticed this in Paris. Flos, which often used to have one of the most striking stands, was absent from the fair. As was Cappellini, which had rented the IBM space to Garibaldi. It is quite simply a fact that you can sometimes rent a showroom in the city for a whole year for the cost of renting space at large trade fairs.
- In Brera, JOV unveiled a preview of a new collection by John Pawson. At the fair they did it with the Milan’s Studiopepe. Landshapes is a collection of artistic rugs. They are landscapes with organic shapes, playful elements and above all plenty of handicraft.
- Atelier Vierkant is known for its monumental pots. The company already has a bench in the collection, and now there are tables too, which Roel Vandebeek designed. Large blocks of ceramics fit on a metal frame. Last year, Atelier Vierkant launched the RVB vase collection, also designed by Roel.
Vincent Van Duysen has designed extensively for Bulo in the past. New is the VVD Bistro collection with accessible, comfortable, modern and lightweight designs. Created for homes, offices and meeting rooms with colours that give it a home-like and welcoming character. After all, working from home has blurred the boundary between the work environment and being at home.
A few years ago, Tribu took over the Monsieur Tricot lighting collection from Ilia Eckardt. At that time, agreements were also made on other possible designs in the longer term. Indeed, Maison Tricot is increasingly presenting itself as a design studio. Now, Tribu is launching the Gobi collection designed by Ilia, a fine example of a contemporary, well-crafted product.
- In our preview article about Milan 2022 (in Dutch), we had already talked about Bertrand Lejoly, the designer who worked for Vincent Van Duysen for many years. At the time, there was still an embargo on his design for Zanotta. ToTo is a collection of coffee and side tables with tops made of steel plate, covered with cowhide in the shades of gold, black, anthracite and mud or tops made of marble. This versatile collection pays tribute to the cheerful aesthetics of Memphis with a modern twist.
Baranzate is a bit remote, but with plenty of floor area, which did full justice to the various installations. A shuttle took visitors from Rho Fiera to there. Of course we have known the people of Zaventem Ateliers for a long time, so for us there was nothing too surprising to see.
All credit to Lionel Jadot. After all, he is the initiator of Zaventem Ateliers and Baranzate Ateliers. Coming from a family of furniture makers, Lionel Jadot has an innate sense of construction that, combined with an unbridled curiosity to explore the world and all its treasures, has led to a unique art practice. For Jadot, work is synonymous with playing, recycling, assembling while connecting other cultures, the local context and the past.
- Thomas Serruys is an autodidact with a background in the sale of 20th century design and art. By nature, his creations are based on an urge to want to live with them. This, and the lack of boundaries when it comes to materials, is often the conception of a new design. His studio, located in a former cotton spinning mill on the Bruges ring road, is mainly equipped for processing steel. It is there that the first prototypes see the light of day and the productions come into being.
Superstudio, Opificio 31, Base... they all stayed the same. Big newcomer in the Zona Tortona: IKEA. And two showrooms of Belgian lighting manufacturers.
- The new Stone collection by Kreon is characterised by a glow of light that creates a pleasant atmosphere through the translucent mineral material. In addition, the hanging lamps have a diffused downward beam providing additional light on horizontal surfaces. Alabaster has a fine uniform grain with an oxide of iron, which produces brown clouding and veining in the stone.
- The MVRDV team, led by Jacob van Rijs, decided to highlight the difference between how lighting design is presented in a showroom and the less glamorous reality of how a light fixture is produced. The High Profile series for Delta Light consists of a cube-shaped hanging lamp, a wall fixture in the shape of an arch, and a free-standing model with profiles placed side by side and stacked on top of one another. The industrial look is softened by tinting the profiles. The series is available in pink, ochre, light green and light blue among other colours.
Isola is increasingly the place for young designers to raise their profiles at a very low price. This year there were eleven participants with a Belgian link.
- We saw Amber Dewaele for the second time in a row at Isola. Because every interior is unique and personal taste is important, these Eye Candy chairs give you the opportunity to customise them. The chairs are made of anodised aluminium and coated foam. Both material finishes have a wide range of colour options, making the possible colour combinations endless. Shown at the Please Sit expo.
- In 2010, Ana Milena Hernández Palacios and the Belgian Christophe Penasse founded Studio Masquespacio in Spain. They design at the request of customers from all over the world. They are taking the next step and launching their own collections under the name Mas Creations, with a personal approach and a universe full of emotions, colours, shapes and creatures. The objects are 3D-printed in polyurethane.
- Gio is a lamp made of stone, leftover wood and 3D-printed bioplastic. In its designs, Duplex Studio takes into account factors such as local production, knowledge sharing and independent production. For the Gio lamp’s structure, they used pieces of bluestone from Hainaut. They decided to use sustainable, noble and time-resistant leftover materials, materials that become more beautiful over time.
Alcova was the crowd puller of Milan, a bit like Lambrate years ago. In the afternoon, there were more people on the metro to Alcova than on the one to Rho Fiera. The site is an old military hospital and still a military domain. The audience was very varied and if there was something innovative to be found in Milan, here was where to look for it.
- The exhibition Confessions was about mental health, in particular the mental health of men. The multidisciplinary studio Tableau had selected fourteen artists with a male identity for the exhibition, in collaboration with the therapeutic clinic Post Service, to investigate the relationship between art, design and mental health. They asked the artists to create a work that somehow expressed functionality, while at the same time expressing their own interpretation of their overall mental health or something they had struggled with throughout their lives. Bram Vanderbeke was one of the participating artists.
In Alcova, Lambert & Fils and DWA Design Studio, the Milanese studio of Frederik De Wachter, presented the second edition of Caffè Populaire, a contemporary aperitif garden. Inside the rooms of the temple, a central table full of wild flowers created a dialogue with the garden outside. A wavy water sculpture sprang from the flowering table and combined the new lighting collection from Lambert & Fils with the floral wall coverings by Superflower.
- Obumex has been in Via Pontaccio for years. This year they shared a larger space with like-minded partners: JOV, Bieke Casteleyn and Obumex. Obumex presented two signature kitchens by John Pawson and Nicolas Schuybroek. The latter’s kitchen was made of tin, a soft material that tells a story in itself. The sunlight and use influenced the kitchen’s appearance. Each kitchen design is unique.
- February 2019: The Furniture & Light Fair opened its doors, Giulio Cappellini visited the stand of Belgium is Design and saw the table by Nik Aelbrecht; a rectangular table with the legs not at the corners, but in the middle. June 2022: Cappellini presents not just one table, but three models all based on the basic model.
And this too...
- The collaboration between Laila Gohar and Muller Van Severen arose from a mutual enthusiasm and interest in each other’s work, which resulted in The Pigeon Table. The piece is inspired by a conversation about clay bricks and pigeon coops in Egypt, Laila’s homeland. By exchanging images, drawings and ideas very intuitively, the final design came to life. Could only be seen by appointment at the Villa Singer.
- Danish company Kvadrat launched Quotes in its showroom, a collection that explores urban and organic experiences through bold graphics, by means of an intriguing installation by Belgian artist Alain Biltereyst. The collection consists of curtains, woven with matt, recycled spun yarns, and dense to semi-transparent elements and carpets.