Monday, March 24, 2014

WHERE DESIGN IS BORN



For the last 15 years, the Milan Furniture Fair has hosted the SaloneSatellite - a grand expose of young design and creativity. Designers are chosen from all over the world to present their innovations, not necessarily related to interiors or furniture. While some are design students still in university, others are designers who’ve already begun their professional journeys. From thousands of applications just a few are picked.
                             
The year’s theme was “design and craftsmanship: together for industry”, with a clear attempt to stimulate the passion for deeper involvement in the development of concepts. At the end of the week, a dozen or so go back with a SaloneSatellite Award, and a lucky handful would have bagged a contract from a major manufacturer.                        

ROHIT KUMAR AND THE JOY OF FORM

Delhi-based Rohit Kumar is one of two Indians at SaloneSatellite. A NIFT graduate, Rohit had two pieces on display at his booth. One was a study table that is colourful and highly utilitarian, with extraordinary smart storage, and using wood, glass and leather. The other was shortlisted for the awards. Inspired by the structure of the beehive, the ‘hive-jacked’ lounge chair uses polypropylene sandwiched between layers of felt. The unusual design, seen here, is all about abstraction in a symmetrical, curved, free-flowing form.

GREAT DESIGN DESERVES GREAT CRAFTSMANSHIP

One entire section at SaloneSatellite was devoted to the important processes that define how well a design thought is brought to reality. The idea - to create visibility for those who work the materials behind the scenes, and encourage dialogue between master craftsmen and young designers. This was wonderfully manifested in four fully equipped concept workshops at location - Wood, Metal, Glass and Digital, managed by masters in their fields.

POETIC LAB + STUDIO SHIKAI GO BEYOND THE OBVIOUS

Beyond Object is a collection by the London-based Poetic Lab and Studio Shikai. The governing idea in all their work is light being used in ways that blur the boundaries of physicality. The ‘Shadow Clock’, shown here, uses intangible shadows to describe time, giving it a philosophical and poetic sense. A concealed, completely unhindered light source creates shadows of the hands of the clock in such a way that the mechanism appears ethereal and organic, taking on the texture of the wall it sits on.

ALESSANDRA MEACCI LIGHTS UP YOUR SOUL

A graduate from the IUAV Venice, the charming Alessandra Meacci is an interior designer, architect and product designer. Her collection on display was structured around the idea of folding metal in unusual ways, allowing for a creative inter-play with light. The main concept on display in her booth was a dynamic system of folded metal elements, inspired by the shapes of wings, which, when brought around a light source, create a dream-like effect on the surroundings. The key is that these individual pieces can be put together in interesting ways. Meacci’s booth was a display piece in itself, with lights and a tree in a mixed plan structure.

LINACRE'S LAMP

Hailing from Melbourne, university student Edward Linacre’s ‘Nest’ lamp also
made it to awards shortlist. Crafted entirely from bamboo veneer, the pendant light fixture is robust and lightweight, and can be easily flat packed. The design theme of the lamp is a beehive. Linacre is part of the Melbourne Movement - a talented mix of young Australian designers. The movement was founded by Kjell Grant in 1999.
Designer lamps

KOMAL VASA + METAPHYSICS

Mumbai-based Komal Vasa, showcased two exhibits - Mandala and Mansara. Mandala is an experiential device - an enclosed light installation signifying the balance between a person’s macrocosm and microcosm. Optics captures the images outside and fuse them with the quiet inner sanctum. Mansara, shortlisted for the awards, is a metal, wood and slumped glass cabinet. Within the inner realm, the rhythm of a bird is captured in a plastic expression central to the piece.

QOONE: A PLACE THAT RELAXES YOU

QuartzD, a group of young Japanese designers, presented Qone. Designed to bring relaxation and relief, the idea uses paper layers that envelop you softly to create a private space, while light filters through. The standout installation was one of a kind at the SaloneSatellite.

ART AND HYDROPONICS

New Yorker Danielle Trofe’s sustainable approach to furniture and lighting design led her to ‘Live Screen’ - a vertical hydroponic garden in a modular structure with a self-watering system. The design is environmentally sound, allows for herbs and vegetables to be grown indoors, and is also an aesthetic addition in any room.

SUSTAINABILITY BY RE_

Satoshi Yanagisawa’s Re_ exhibition is an attempt to combine new-age production and materials with local craftsmanship, with the aim of enabling sustainability in design. OLED lights, worked into novel forms such as this circular table lamp, were just one of the displays in the booth. Another was Otto, a smart, seamless power strip.

THE FIBONACCI CABINET

This concept cabinet by Utopia Architecture and Design, China, is a truly special design. Creativity comes to the fore in this truly exciting piece that exploits the Fibonacci sequence. Break it down, build it up - the assembly of ratios define the arrangement and shape of the cabinet. Made out of wood, and with four slanted legs, each box allows for demarcated storage while presenting a visual singularity when unified.

THE SALONE AWARDS

The SaloneSatellite Awards are very prestigious, and can change the fortunes of a young designer overnight. This year, Tania de Cruz won the first prize. Her use of cork to create heat-insulating and sound-proofing modular panels demonstrated how 100% natural materials can be used in a novel way to provide a design solution that’s not only sustainable but also extraordinarily aesthetic.
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