Thursday, April 21, 2011

Milan: the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

Hemp Chair, by Werner Aisslinger

Aim Lights, designed by Ronan & Erwin Bouroullec

Story Vases by Front and the Siyazama Project

Grinza chair for Edra

Sadly, I still have not had the opportunity to attend the annual Salon Internazionale del Mobile that closed last Sunday in Milan. Maybe next year. Here's a (very) brief roundup of the things I've found memorable from this year's extravaganza, as observed from the scenic digital vantage-point of my desk.

The Good: Rumors have it that things are picking up and manufacturers are expecting sales at least as good as they had in 2007. Really? That seems a bit optimistic, but I hope they're right.

Also good are these streamlined, stackable (and eco!) "Hemp Chairs" by Berlin-based Werner Aisslinger. No idea if they're actually comfortable to sit in, but they look awesome.

I really am in love with these Aim lights designed by Ronan & Erwan Bouroullec, carried by Flos. You can position them in any direction, at any height thanks to their cable suspension system. Genius.

Finishing up the good category are these inspiring vases handmade by South African women through the Siyazama Project in collaboration with Front. These vases tell their stories about the effect of HIV, poverty, and unemployment on their society. Nice that in all the dazzle of Milan's Design Week, there's an awareness of those with less and an effort to support them through this local craft movement.

The Bad: Despite all the glitz and glam, few designers are lucky enough to make a living at their craft.  Depressing but interesting article by Justin McGuirk from the Guardian here if you want to read more.

Also bad, very few American designers exhibiting this year. Granted, it's hard when our own government doesn't support designers, as other countries do. Priorities, people. If huge corporations get bailouts and tax breaks, why not a small bit for struggling designers trying to make a name for themselves?

The Ugly: Okay, I try to refrain from criticizing design (I mean, after all, was I there pitching my latest furniture pieces to the critics? Um no.) But I just couldn't resist a comment on this last image. What is this thing? It reminds me of a mutilated Sharpei. Not cool. Not cool at all. But to be fair, these two Brazilians do some good, and unusual work (which I fully support. It's nice to see something different...usually). You can see other pieces from these two here.

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