Atelier Luma showed experiments with agricultural by-products including salt during Salone del Mobile 2023 at Alcova Project Space in Milan, Italy. Photo Heidi Dokulil.
The epicentre of Italian commerce and the home of the Negroni, risotto alla Milanese and the Fondazione Prada, Milan is where furniture, lighting and accessories dreamed up by the industry’s internationally celebrated are unveiled, making their mark at Milan Design Week 2023. It’s where haute couture adds glamour to the country’s rich history of furniture making in a meaningful way, supercharging an already adventurous design offering and offering insights into the current modus operandi of designers.
Key messages at this year’s exhibition, held in April, were the skills of makers and the nuances of materials, both powerful weapons in the war against fakes and fuelling the leap towards sustainable manufacturing and supply chain models. Experimentation with techniques, from age-old traditional crafts that require practice and time to highly technical innovations (or a novel hybrid of the two), provided a unifying theme for the latest collections by furniture brands and a swathe of fashion houses whose new homewares ranges express a deep knowledge of craft going back hundreds of years.
Those perspectives come from the likes of Professor Veena Sahajwalla, a Sydney-based inventor, engineer and materials scientist, whose novel research on materials innovation at UNSW Sydney is turning the idea of waste on its head. Adds Trimarchi: “We are also thinking about the long-term role Prada Frames could have as an educational initiative, and exploring different options and ideas.”
While big names always dominate the high streets, the grittier city fringe is a treasure hunt for the unknown. At the former Porta Vittoria Abattoir, Alcova’s Valentina Ciuffi and Joseph Grima’s quest to show the work of independent designers delivered some fascinating projects. Huge industrial warehouses opened up to spaces filled with more than 90 projects, from traditional pottery to furniture made with recycled materials. Highlights included the French research team Atelier Luma, who showed their experiments with agricultural by-products including rice straw, salt and algae that echoed the investigations and material developments presented by Prada Frames.
Materials in focus at Frantoio Sociale, a meeting space to discuss circularity, material flows, waste and raw materials during Salone del Mobile 2023 on April 20, 2023 at Alcova Project Space in Milan, Italy. Photo Heidi Dokulil.
Milan’s creative mash-up that is reframing historical and significant buildings with contemporary design brings fresh ideas and possibilities into vivid focus. With more than 300,000 sets of eyes on the city’s feast of inspiration annually, Milan has become the ultimate live platform to open up conversations about how we design and make things. This year among the new releases, installations and talks that engaged with leading scientists too, brought to the surface brands that are focusing on tradition, sustainable supply chains, circular materials and manufacturing models, on the way to reducing the industry’s impact on the environment.