Much as with “Bauhaus”, “Memphis” is all too often popularly reduced to a “style”, something one can “recreate”.
As with “Bauhaus” that it is not only disingenuous, and erroneous, but hinders development of understandings of the (hi)story of design, understandings of the path taken to our contemporary design that are important for considerations on where we are and how best to progress.
With the showcase Memphis: 40 Years of Kitsch and Elegance the Vitra Design Museum Gallery issue an invitation for us all to delve a little deeper, to look below the plastic laminated surface.
“I don’t know what design is”, opined once the Italian designer Enzo Mari.
Not because he hadn’t considered the question. But because he had. A lot.
With the exhibition Enzo Mari curated by Hans Ulrich Obrist with Francesca Giacomelli the Triennale Milano present an opportunity to approach an understanding of that which in the course of those considerations, and his 60+ year career, Enzo Mari has variously understood both design to be, and what it could, should, must, be……..
“Last night the waiter put the celery on with the cheese, and I knew that summer was indeed dead”, opined once A.A. Milne, continuing that, while there may be other indications of autumn’s arrival, “it is only with the first celery that summer is over.”
And the first celery appears, or at least appeared in early 20th century England, in October.
Not that one should fear the celery, for in its crispness, freshness, tenderness, sweetness celery, so A.A. Milne, reminds us that winter isn’t only about the cold, wet, dark and dreary, but is a season which brings its own pleasures and joys, is a season of “crisp and sparkling days, long pleasant evenings, cheery fires” and to which we’ll add lingering visits to architecture and design exhibitions. Our recommendations for new showcases opening in October 2020 can be found in Munich, Milan, Rotterdam, Philadelphia and Brussels.
And as ever in these times, if you do feel comfortable about visiting any museum, please familiarise yourself in advance with the current ticketing, entry, safety, hygiene, cloakroom, etc rules and systems. And during your visit please stay safe, stay responsible, and above all, stay curious….
“Here’s to October—and, waiter, some more celery.”1
Not the Situla itself.
But rather what is depicted on that small, delicately carved, 10th century ivory object: the four Christian Evangelists, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, busy writing their gospels while seated at height-adjustable desks…….
Aside from the, inevitable, consolidation the main theme at Milan Furniture Fair 2019, and the one which occupied us much more than that which was on show for our perusal, is/was the international furniture industry’s increasing hunger for data; a hunger which embodied itself at Milan 2019 in a exponential surge in the number of manufacturers requiring potential stand visitors to either pre-register, submit a business card or have their Fair ticket scanned before being allowed onto the stand.
No data. No entry.
And a state of affairs on which we have penned several hundred (agitated) words; but, this is neither the time nor place for them. We will however return to them at a later date, not least because the scale of the shift we witnessed at Milan 2019 suggests that as a development it is on it way to becoming standard. Which ain’t good.
Elsewhere the halls of Milan were busier with visitors in 2019 than we remember them for many a long a year, the weather in 2019 cooler than we remember for many a long year, and despair and delight stood as close to one another as every year
And in that sense, and as ever accepting we may have missed one or two gems, not least because we decided against sharing our data in order to view new items of furniture manufacturers had, allegedly, brought to Milan to promote, and so subsequently weren’t on a lot of stands, a smow Blog Milan 2019 High Five!!
Any anthology of 20th century design would by necessity feature a very, very long chapter on Italy. With Storie. Il Design Italiano the Triennale Design Museum Milan sketch out how the narrative of such a chapter could develop, highlight key moments in the plot development and introduce the most important protagonists.
By way of celebrating designer Achille Castiglioni’s centenary Italian lighting manufacturer Flos used Milan Design Week 2018 to launch re-editions of two Castiglioni designs: Ventosa and Nasa.
Objects which in their own, small, ways allow for an insight into Achille Castiglioni’s approach to, and understanding of, design.
We’re great believers in Fate, in the guiding principle that if it is meant to be, it will be: not least because it protects us from the expectations of achievement.
Further proof of the veracity of Fate was provided by our meeting during Milan Design Week 2018 with the project Moorwerk by Jan Christian Schulz.
Milan Furniture Fair 2018, at least amongst those more design led manufacturers, is/was largely about consolidation, largely about new materials, new colours, slight changes to existing objects, with one or the other family proudly presenting their latest members. Which is no complaint, far from it, Milan’s speciality traditionally being the new for the sake of the new, that misguided belief that one has to present something new every year. You don’t. Present something new when you’ve got something new to say, something new to contribute, something meaningful.
Largely ≇ exclusively and there were a few new projects to be found which did have something new to say, did have something new to contribute, were something meaningful. If not enough for a handful. Sure we could have added another project just to compete the quintet, there being no shortage of candidates to choose from, but then just as we don’t expect manufacturers to publish for the sake of the new rather for the quality, so we don’t publish for the sake of the five….
As ever we didn’t see everything, have without question missed things we shouldn’t have missed, things we will regret missing later, apologies all round, but, and with that in mind, our Milan Furniture Fair 2018: High Four!!
Whereas exhibitions in which designers show prototypes and discontinued projects by way of explaining who they are, where they come from and how they work, are a, relatively, regular occurrence, exhibitions in which manufacturers do such are much, much rarer: with the exhibition Typecasting Vitra make a very rare and very welcome exception
And in doing so don’t just present an image not only of Vitra past, but also take a look into the future…..
Curated by Carwan Gallery Beirut co-founder Nicolas Bellavance-Lecompte, Unsighted presents projects by eight international designers; the title making reference to the fact that the designers weren’t told for what they were being commissioned, had no external context; were working, as it were, Unsighted.
During Milan Design Week 2018 all became clearer…
With his two faces the Roman God Janus looks simultaneously forward and backwards, standing in constant watch over transitions, the passage of time, beginnings, ends.
The easy connection to make is with January, that month of the year when we are invariably reflecting and hoping in equal measure: the more complex connection to make is with a well-crafted architecture and design exhibition, one which effortlessly links reflections of the past with proposals, visions and excitement for the future. Nothing existing as it does in isolation. And everything requiring a transition.
Our five gatekeepers for January 2018 can be found in San Francisco, Brussels, Basel, Milan and Cologne.
Backrests appeared to be a major feature of those new products Konstantin Grcic presented at Milan Furniture Fair 2017. Or perhaps better put, from those new product we saw by Konstantin Grcic, we interpreted the backrest as being central components. But it wasn’t all about backrests, a few thoughts on new products for Magis, Plank, Flos and Mattiazzi.
Much as we moan, moan, and moan about Milan Furniture Fair, it is a rare opportunity to get a snapshot of where individual designers are currently at: differing products for differing manufacturers being displayed in relatively proximity allowing for a nice overview. A few considerations on the latest projects by Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec for Vitra, Magis, Flos and Mattiazzi.
As older readers will be well aware, little gets us down quite like Milan Furniture Fair. Every year our only wish as we cross the Alps is that we will find something to make us thankful that we did. Milan Furniture Fair 2017 produced more such moments than the average year, which we suppose means we’ll be back next year!!
Our Milan Furniture Fair 2017 High Five!!
While it’s hard to feel anything even vaguely resembling joy in a month which sees the UK start its senseless and cowardly, withdrawal from the European Union … life goes on!!
Our five top distractions for April 2017 features new design and architecture exhibitions in Berlin, New York, Paris, Dessau and Milan.
“When I was very small, a little boy of five or six years old, I was certainly no infant prodigy,
Unbelievably, Eindhoven based design studio Daphna Laurens have never, ever, participated at Salone Satellite, that section of the Milan furniture
As we believe is now traditional at this time of year….. ….. every year at Milan Design Week the Belgian
Every time we are in Milan, be it for the Design Week or simply to enjoy the city without the
It’s been a good long while since we last posted about the Hochschule für Gestaltung Karlsruhe’s kkaarrlls collection, and thus
Established in 2002 Danish label HAY have quickly risen to become an important player in the European furniture and home
To the casual observer selecting five outstanding products from the Milan Furniture Fair is a neigh on impossible task, so
If the etymologists are to be believed “April” has its origins in the Latin verb “aperire”. To uncover, to open.
Just as January means Cologne, April is Milan. And normally only Milan. In 2015 however we managed to spice things