Last week, the Stylus design team joined those thronging to Milan for the annual Milan Furniture Fair. My first stop was the Brera district, where I spotted the expansive Stone Garden installation. Tucked away in the Palazzo Crivelli courtyard, around 200 small tables – each supported by a single stem – were secured by tension as they overlapped to form a stone landscape.
Created by Japanese studio Nendo for Caesterstone, the design mimicked a Japanese rock garden – a befitting form for the quartz surface manufacturer’s product. Nendo’s minimalist masterpieces have been increasing in numbers year on year at the event. European manufacturers apparently can’t get enough of the studio’s pared-back aesthetic.
Another highlight for the week came in the form of String Lights by Michael Anastassiades, one of two new releases by the designer in collaboration with Italian lighting brand Flos.
Anastassiades claims that the ceiling lamp’s principle was inspired by the wires of pylons, viewed from a train carriage window. He says, ‘I love the way they divide the landscape and how spheres are occasionally beaded through the wires at random intervals. I also love how, in Mediterranean cultures, strings of lights are stretched between posts to mark an outdoor space for an evening party in a village square’.
I was also eager to see the launch of Patricia Urquiola’s debut curtain and upholstery textile collection for Denmark’s Kvadrat at the Moroso showroom. The Spanish doyenne of design has enjoyed a long-standing relationship with the Italian furniture brand, promising a sympathetic collaboration between the two.
The launch included the Grid – a new wool weave that seemed to mimic a digital pattern but also give the appearance of uneven wear, creating a very modern finish.
I’ve always been inspired by Urquiola’s creativity and originality. Known for her eagerness to mix pattern and texture, she continues to produce exciting and refreshing pieces. The Moroso stand at the Fiera, designed by Urquiola herself, was an explosion of pastel hues. Her Mathilda chairs were both simple, stable and the use of varying authentic materials was inspiring. Alongisde Urquiola, Moroso also launched ranges by Werner Aissslinger and Brit – Benjamin Hubert.
I also took in the work of designer Hella Jongerius, whose collaboration with Vitra featured the Oursin ottoman and the sphere table. She is also responsible for the Vitra Colour and Surface library, which is crucial to all of Vitra’s development of product – particularly when classics such as Eames’ ‘Hang it all’ is re-coloured. Fresh new additions were red, green and white options.
For new talent, the Ventura Lambrate was a great spot to see emerging designers.
This year, we discovered the work of Paris-based designer Victoria Wilmotte, whose work was exhibited alongside five emerging French designers. Her Biological Marble table had a very interesting surface pattern from swirled black and white resin, creating an organic and lively effect.
Another new face this year was François Dumas, showing alongside Wilmotte. I was impressed by Dumas’ colourful foam lights: mounted in layers of bold, sports-like colours, they resembled flip-flops made from EVA foam – a foam rubber material typically used as padding for ski shoes and various sports equipment.
Louise Chidgey is senior vice president at creative industry research website Stylus