Do not touch, is a warning heard on many trade shows. None of that at the Salone del Mobile 2011 in Milan. There was a wealth of handmade products, begging to be touched. And with so many pieces of furniture, accessories and textiles made of wonderful materials that is a pleasure. This report highlights the most interesting handmade design on show in Milan.
All but plastic
Designers have become researchers; dissecting material, techniques and exploring its potential. Using those elements they create experimental, refined and thought through products. In Spazio Rossana Orlandi, Studio Formafantasma showed a collection of handmade vases, named Botanica. They have been working with natural materials such as linseed oil and resin, which can be used as an alternative for oil based materials. The handmade objects combine soft and shiny surfaces with matt and textured materials. Modern day alchemist Andere Monjo uses natural pigments to print wonderful patterns on pieces of furniture. Each product is unique because the designer uses recycled and reused finds.
Wallpaper magazine presented Handmade, asking designers to develop new products using traditional craft techniques. From cut glass vanity mirrors to disposable paper dinnerware, every item reflects a special touch. Even tools are becoming must-haves in this presentation; Wohngeist created an amazing Tool Box for the Wallpaper collection. The Handmade issue of the magazine hit the shelves in August. The point that crafts do not have to be necessarily traditional, was made by Wallpaper by given a parallel presentation on 3D printing. Freedom of Creation promotes rapid prototyping techniques to create and print a one-off design or a serial product. Recently, FOC developed the very first 3D object in wood, using the Tree-D technique. Designer Elisa Strozyk uses a lasercutter to make tiny pieces of wood, which are glued on a textile surface by hand. Result is a firm but flexible wooden carpet.
Who's afraid of decorative?
Many designers study craft techniques and team up with specialists that use century-old or new technological processes. Others explore traditional crafts and the stories and meaning attached to those. There was an amazing amount of decorative products to be found in Milan, very new and exciting products based on a rich history and origin. Christien Meindertsma worked with Roosje Hindeloopen from the Dutch town of Hindeloopen. She developed an oak cabinet, that got its traditional rich blue tint by natural pigments. The decorations on the cabinet refer to original Hindeloopen patterns. Talking Textiles, a presentation by Lidewij Edelkoort, is one of the highlights in Milan. Smart, innovative textiles that have been created using ancient techniques. Poufs, wall hangings and rugs; everything is soft, padded and tender to the touch. Borre Akkersdijk showed his double layer fabric with a woven decoration referring to industrial processes.
The Salone in Milan is a massive display of design and non-design. Every brand, every designer, every product is screaming for attention. Once again proving that less is more, the presentations showing a very careful selection are most memorable. Products you just have to touch are the most attractive. Products showing the hand of its maker touch you. People are looking for products full of purpose, made with pleasure and with a story attached. Handmade design products reflect that and are therefore attracting the most attention. So, reach out and touch!