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Posts Tagged ‘Milano’

smow in Milan: And loving that Venice feeling

April 27th, 2009

They say that in every life a little rain must fall. The amount that has fallen in Milan in the past 24 hour is however ridiculous.

And unjust.

It has rained so much in Milan the horse shrank

It has rained so much in Milan the horse has shrunk

We don’t know what the Milanese did to annoy Tlaloc, BUT WE WEREN’T THERE!!!! And had we been, and had we seen what the Milanese were doing we would have tried to stop them.

As it is, however, we were forced to flee our tent at 3.15 this morning – enjoyable as the water bed effect through the tent floor was, we have an awful lot of state of the art technology with us, and two Moleskine notebooks, and weren’t keen to test how waterproof they all are.

As we arrived at the campsite cafe the first evacuees were already making themselves at home and in the course of the night/morning ever more were to join us.

It's spelt "djik" and yes you should have built one....

It's spelt "dijk", and yes you should have built one....

What we found a little disappointing was the number of Dutch teenagers seeking refuge. Had their grandparents found themselves in a similar predicament they would have simply constructed a network of dykes and so both diverted the rainwater away from the tents and artificially lowered the ground water level thus preventing any further problems. And in all probability they would have then used the reclaimed land to raise a new breed of cattle that produced milk with a particularly low water content from which one could make an excellently creamy, hard cheese.

That the current generation of Hollanders instead choose to flee half naked into a campsite cafe is truly a sad indictment on the current state of Holland.

We blame the euro.

Camping in Milan can be recommended - just avoid the pitch in bottom left of the site.

Camping in Milan can be recommended - just avoid the pitch in bottom left-hand corner of the site.

However, we know and appreciate that around the world there are thousands of persons who are forced to flee their homes under much more distressing conditions. And if they worst we have to do is get up three hours early in order to avoid a wet laptop then we know we can count ourselves very lucky.

And finally a big thank you from us to the staff at Camping Milano for the friendly and uncomplicated help and assistance they offered in the night. Much appreciated.

The (smow)tent at 7.30 this morning - Like the Galstonbury Festival, just without the music.

The (smow)tent at 7.30 this morning - Like the Galstonbury Festival, just without the troublesome music.

smow in Milan: Unnamed Foldable Cardboard Chair

April 26th, 2009

In our entry on the designersblock showcase we mentioned a foldable cardboard chair that had caught our attention.
Now we know as well as everyone else that are our heads are readily turned by free beer and bagpipes (thanks Calum) – and if you throw in some dub and finest Italian ska and we would lie for you in court.
And so we thought we had better wait a day or two before saying anything more about Stuart Miller’s fine folding cardboard chair. In case we found something better. We thought we had last night, but no…

Stuart is a student at Glasgow Caledonian University, and the chair is part of his final year project. And as yet unnamed.

As your smow(blog) team were impoverished, over-worked and under-nourished students at Glasgow Strathclyde University, regardless of much stick we took from the oinks at Glasgow University we could at least take solace in the fact that the Glasgow Tech students were even lower down the social scale than us.

That hasn’t changed, but Glasgow Tech became Glasgow Caledonian University and the industrial design department has also grown up. And there were genuinely a few good works from the Glasgow students on show in Milan, but the pick was Stuart’s chair.

It is comfortable. It is stable. It looks good.

But the important factors are the ease with which it folds flat and its lightness.

Stuart brought two chairs with him in a budget airline – and we all know how strict they are; on account of the weight we once had trouble checking a club sandwich in as hold baggage…

They are light.

And fold flat.

And as such perfect for either keeping in a cupboard in case extra guests turn up unannounced; for putting in the car if your heading-off somewhere and planning camping or stopping for a picnic; or if your flying off to a holiday cottage in the sun and don’t fancy sitting on a cheap plastic chair.

Theoretically you could even strap them to the back of your bike…

The range of uses is almost unlimited – for example, as seating while decorating a room – yet the stability and comfort remains.

And as you can see from the video – they take seconds to assemble.

As we said earlier: “Took a problem, analysed it, solved it. And that with style and comfort. Lovely.”

In terms of the “extra seating market” the folding chair was, until now, the unquestioned king, queen, prince and illicit son idling in exile and planning his bloody revenge …

Until now…

A foldable chair made from a recycled cardboard is a real alternative. And not only because of the space and weight savings – aesthetics are also important.

And so if Moormann, Lampert or SCP are reading…

(P.S. Sorry, we weren’t thinking when we made the film, hence the sideways image :( And sadly here in Milan we have neither the software nor the RAM to change that, but once we’re back in Leipzig…)

smow in Milan: A stolen moment

April 26th, 2009

Make up your own joke… we like:

“Apparently, he had heard that there are some classics here that never go out of fashion  – and wanted some tips”

“Lets go to Kartell, they’re also 100% plastic”

We can’t promise a prize for the best suggestion, but send your “entries” to and who knows.

smow in Milan: A stolen moment

April 26th, 2009
smow in Milan - and in good company

smow in Milan - and in good company

What the war on terror being won and everything, it appears Barack Obama has turned to his Secret Service to help save the American economy.
We know its a weak joke, but they sadly didn’t seem to understand what we meant when we asked what the delivery time is for Waterboards.

smow in Milan: A stolen moment

April 26th, 2009
smow in Milan - Walter Benjamin shows his support for Perim.2072 by Bastian Goecke

smow in Milan - Walter Benjamin shows his support for Perim.2072 by Bastian Goecke

At the kkaarrllss showcase we couldn’t help noticing that the students were using a copy of  “Das Kunstwerk” [The work of art…] by Walter Benjamin to support the lamp.

A subtle critic on Benjamin’s Marxist ramblings,  a rejection of modernism or just typical student forgetfulness.

Fascinating ;)

smow in Milan: “off-Salone”: Part 3

April 26th, 2009

Having re-read the first two “off-Salone” entries, we fear that it could be interpreted that we are not doing very much here.

To correct that view, we must point out that you are only getting the pick of the crop; by the time a text reaches the (smow)blog we have already sorted out the rotten, misformed and unripe fruits.

After leaving the after-hours-acid-jazz-cafe ambiance of the Zona Tortona press room, we headed of north towards the Piazza Moscova.

"Easy" by Klaus and Carpenter for Established & Sons.

Easy by Klaus and Carpenter for Established & Sons

First port of call was Established & Sons. Every year the London based producer take over a former municipal sports hall in the Via Palermo for their installation. The theme this year appeared to be Robinson Crusoe. We’ll say a little more about the Established & Sons show later, but at this stage a notable mention must go to “Easy” by Klauser and Carpenter – solid, comfortable chair that would be ideal in any waiting area, conference room or as an guest chair in a living room. And it looks good.

Kantbank by Andreas Grindler at kkaarrllss

Kantbank by Andreas Grindler at kkaarrllss

Shortly after leaving Established we, literally, stumbled over kkaarrlls – the showcase from students at the Karlsruhe Design College. We’d seen a few photos in advance, and if we’re honest weren’t that taken. However the show itself changed our opinion. Aside from the rattan versions of four classics from Panton, Eames, Gehry and Thonet and the wire frame “ashtray” the Kantbank particularly caught our attention. Not only can one sit on it – and that in comfort and safety – but you can also use it as an ad-hoc surface for writing short notes or using a small laptop. And in that sense it is perfect for press areas at, for example, sports events or design shows, but can also be used be employed in an office setting as an informal meeting area/brainstorming corner.

We then took in a couple of significantly less impressive shows, before, finally, arriving at “Les Belges” -16 young Belgian designers, where our “off-Salone” day came to an end. More on that later.

The day was long, the day was busy, but the day was worth it and we can strongly recommend such a tour to all with an interest in design, designers and the processes that link one with the other.

smow in Milan - the (smow)bike after our "off-Salone" tour.

smow in Milan - the (smow)bike after our "off-Salone" tour

smow in Milan: A stolen moment

April 26th, 2009
smow in Milan - Centro Bonsai

smow in Milan - Centro Bonsai

Picture taken on Corso Garibaldi north of Piazza Moscova. The building in the middle is the “Centro Bonsai” – and the tallest building in the block. Italy – great at design, rubbish at artificially restricting vegetative growth.

smow in Milan: “off-Salone” Part 2

April 25th, 2009

We must say it is good to get back to the comfort of the Zona Tortona press room and an ice cold cola – although we must report that the focaccia’s sadly seem to be finished :(

Beer glass with joystick handle by Koncern

Beer glass with joystick handle by Koncern

The first port of call for our second “off Salone” sojourn today was “Fake it Easy”  Czech design studio Koncern who have produced a range of products with the – alleged – aim that they should be copied.

In the smow(blog) we have often discussed the subject of original and copies and we would loved to have discussed the topic with the designers – sadly they are all in Prague. But watch this space. The idea for the range, however, arose after at least one of the teams designs was stolen and faked. An event which caused the designers to consider what it meant when a design is “stolen” and came to the conclusion that the meaning of the work changes – a bit like when Czechoslovakia “copied” post Warsaw Pact German unification by splitting into two countries.  Same idea, just different.

The products themselves are an outrageous and original selection of glass products – we especially liked the water carafe, but als the beer glass with the joystick handle greatly appealed to our sense of design with a purpose.

Snake by Unusual Design

Snake by Unusual Design

On a similar subject, what do you get if you take a Wiggle Stool from Frank Gehry and stretch it a little?  A Snake by Unusual Designs from Ragusa, Italy. When we first saw Snake we thought “copy”; however, having considered it for a moment or two and having looked at it a  couple of times – at the end of the day the designers have taken the concept, but improved it so that one can actually use the space between the folds. Whereas you’d have to try really hard to get a book in the folds of a Wiggle Stool, with a “Snake” you have seat and book holder in one – perfect for the garden or balcony.

We’re now going to leave Tortona and head of  little to the North to check out a few more shows…final destination is a cocktail party with some Belgians.


But before we go join us on a walk down Via Tortona … we tried to recreate that grainy, amateur, Super 8 feel, because what with all the retro sunglasses in Milan its as if “House” never happened. Hopefully the film will give an impression of what and where and how.

smow in Milan: “off-Salone” Part 1

April 25th, 2009

After 3 days at the Milan exhibition centre we’re giving it a miss today and spending the whole day “off-Salone”

Currently enjoying the splendid hospitality in the Zona Tortona press room and will try to ignore the film crew next to us who are working on “The First Design Movie” – coming to specialist film shop near you in September and try to order our thoughts from the first part of our tour.

Photogrphing through windows - it's an art you know.  Kabiljo's selving system from books

Photogrphing through windows - it's not as easy as it looks. Very early by Dejane Kabiljo in Milan

We were up and about early, far to early for most designers but that didn’ stop us making a small discovery in the Via Savona – a “book shelf” system from Austrian designer Dejane Kabiljo. And yes the shelves and bookends are made from books. This is the second “book shelf” system we have seen recently, the other being by Not Tom. But what appeals to us about Kabiljo’s system is that it is an infinitely expandable and inter-changaable system. Ideally both designers should allow the use of your own old books to create a truly personal system for your personal library.

The Design Library in Milan

The Design Library in Milan

Which leads us nicely to our next stop – a library. Sometimes it’s almost as if we plan this.  Via Savona 11 is home to Italy’s first design library. In  a wonderfully, typically italian backyard the various partners involved have established a wonderful oasis of calm with wide selection of design orientated books and magazines. Although the majority are obviously in Italian there is a good selection of non-italian texts – and a lot of the books are in any case photo based.  And so for any one with an interest in design who is planning coming to Milan at any time of the year, the library offers a wonderful opportunity to discover, re-discover. compare and remain updated. And there is a small cafe for a refreshment before you head back out on your tour.

Mitochondria Chaise Longue by John A. Harris

Mitochondria Chaise Longue by John A. Harris

Shortly after leaving the sanctuary of th library we stumbled somewhat unexpectedly on British designer John A. Harris‘s exhibition. Harris is one of those designers whose work we would love to buy – only, large wood furniture is just not our thing and so with the best of intentions we simply can’t justify buying it. But the quality of the craftsmanship is second to none and now that we have finally seen his new Chaise Longue “Mitochondria” we can confirm that it is huge, very well supported and if you are a fan of full wood furniture well worth a look.

Designer John A. Harris at a Spontono from Moormann.

British furniture maker John A. Harris at a Spontono from Moormann.

What did impress us – and thanks to our insatiable irony amused us – was that the master of solid wood furniture should be sitting at Spontono by Jakob Gebert for Nils Holger Moormann.

Spontono is very stable, but a wafer thin mint in comparison to Harris’s chunky, trucker chocolate furniture.


The film crew have moved on, and so must we. We will keep you updated.

smow in Milan: A stolen moment

April 24th, 2009
smow in Milan - design?

smow in Milan - design?

Looks like it could be a new seating system by Ron Arad – it is in fact a safety barrier inside the main exhibition centre.

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