From the 8th to the 13th of April the Milan Furniture Fair (also known as Milan Design Week) opened its doors to the design world, and off course, Attention was there. During the fair, the entire city of Milan explodes with design exhibitions and shows.
The first stop was to explore the city and some of the many interesting exhibitions. Our first task was food; brunch in the shadow of il Duomo. We chose this spot not only because the nearby metro station acts as a hub for the entire city, but also because we wanted to absorb the atmosphere of this pulsating design city. Next up was the charming Brera district, which is known for it’s small alley-like streets, artsy-bohemian feel, and numerous high quality shops. It quickly lived up to its reputation with lots of interesting exhibitions and a buzzing atmosphere. One of the press heavy exhibitions was the “Swedish Design Goes Milan – In Real Life” where we attended the Red Dot Award ceremony for the “Design Team of the Year 2014”, presented by Professor Dr Peter Zec, Red Dot Founder and CEO – Ewa Björling, the Swedish Minister of Trade, and Ruth Jacoby – Swedish ambassador in Italy. To hear other design consultancies talk about their core values is always interesting as it provides the opportunity to look at your own business from another perspective. After the Swedish contribution, we ended up at IAI – Asia Pacific Designers Federation’s exhibition, which showcased some of Asia’s heaviest design names. Here we had a relaxed discussion about Asian design and the IAI group, only to realize by the end of the discussion that we talked to none other than Brian He, the founder and executive chairman of the federation. When we left, we had an invitation to the IAI design award 2014 in Beijing together with a few shared laughs and big smiles on our faces. These examples were just a taste of the many exhibitions we saw to in Brera, but it really is something that you should experience. The same can be said about the Zona Tortona, a exhibition area with an active night life. Apart from visiting numerous exhibitions around Via Tortona, we received some of the biggest wow- experiences at Peugeot Design Lab, where they showcased many interesting pieces of conceptual design that explored the mixing of natural materials and modern materials and processes such as rapid prototyping. Here we saw a sofa carved out of stone fused into woven carbon fiber, and we also attended a piano concert in a futuristic neon-lit setting performed on a custom made grand piano. Another cool part was the ‘Tokyo Imagine’, an exhibition showcasing many different companies from the Tokyo area. With everything from small robots and exo-skeletons via traditional Japanese clothing – to virtual reality goggles and modular coat hangers – Tokyo really delivered! . With only a few hours of daylight left, we quickly moved over to Ventura Lambrate, which is an area with a lot of new young designers who put an eco-twist on their designs. When the night came and all exhibitions closed, we found our self drifting back to where we started the day. To the small streets of Brera, were most things were still open and people gathered for laughs and drinks, in the streets as well as in the stores. This was for us, the perfect end to the first day in Milan and it would be long into the night until we found ourselves back at the Hotel to get some much needed sleep. The next day stared much like the first one, with an early brunch near il Duomo, followed by a long metro ride together with what felt like half of Milan. What met us on the other side was a sunny fair filled with people stretching as far as the eye could see. We started the fair by visiting the hall called Salone Satellite in the far end of the huge exhibition complex. Here student and young designers from all over the world displayed their work. One of the more interesting displays from Attention’s point of view was the display from Lund University’s School of Industrial Design; an education with close ties to some of the employees at Attention. They showcased three interesting bicycle concepts, the result of a workshop around bicycle commuting. One of the more extreme exhibitions was that of a German duo, displaying their wood furniture that uses a somewhat alternative way of joining the different wooden pieces together – pouring molten metal on top of it. The result was maybe not the cleanest design, but showed a good sense of thinking outside the box. Next, we visited the “Design”-branded pavilions, where furniture from some of the worlds hottest furniture companies was put on display. Here we saw everything from the completely gold-painted area of the italian furniture brand Kartell – to the pared down exhibition of companies such as Arper and Norman Copenhagen. The general trend of recent years continues with a lot of bright colors, often pastel, paired with simple rounded forms, light woods, smooth curves and a focus on elegant details, but we also saw a lot of experimenting with patterns and materials. The effect of the colors are often enhanced when the whole color range of the furniture is exhibited together. Here are some finishing pictures from the fair, that hopefully will get your attention.