The annual Design Fair in Milan, which wrapped up this past weekend, is a lot like fashion week—only with a lot more people, a lot more traffic, and, well, let’s be honest here, a lot less street style. There are the star designers—Philippe Starck, Patricia Urquiola and Nendo’s Oki Sato, to name but a few. There are the much-anticipated shows—Gallery Nilufar and Spazio Rossana Orlandi always seem to have the best ideas. And of course, the requisite parties—Michael Maharam’s always convivial A-list dinner at Da Giacomo (which, if you ask me, is reason enough to go to Milan in and of itself); Donatella Versace’s raucous cocktail to celebrate Nikolai and Simon Haas’s collection for Versace Home; and Cassina’s packed event for its photocollaboration with Karl Lagerfeld where rumor has it that even the company’s CFO was forced wait in a line that snaked around the block. So many limitededition chairs, so little time…! Here are some of the highlights from the week:
For the second year, Tom Dixon spearheaded MOST, a multi-designer presentation at the Museum of Science and Technology. Among the many new things shown by the prolific British designer himself was Cell, a collection of minutely etched polished brass lights that cast wonderfully intricate shadows.
Copper was big this season, not least in Tom Dixon’s massive Mass Dining Table.
Also at MOST, the Dutch designer Piet Hein Eek had a retrospective of all of the chairs he has designed over the years. The most valuable piece, sentimentally at least, was this tiny sling chair from 1980, which he made out of matches and string. Each night, it was removed from the lineup and safely stored away in a record player needle box.
I was charmed by the Central Saint Martins student project “From Creatures.” Moe Negata’s jewelry is made from fish bones and shells scavenged from the discards of London restaurants.
Lasvit, the Czech glass company, commissioned a constellation of artists and designers, including Arik Levy, Michael Young and Borek Sipek, to have their way with the material. The fashion designer Maurizio Galante worked in pleats.
Prada reinstalled the set from its January men’s show where Rem Koolhaas’s furniture collection for Knoll made its first appearance and invited the public to hang out in what was billed as the “Ideal Home.”
Discipline, a refreshing and relatively young company dedicated to simple, common sense design, put on a nice presentation of its newest wares including Ichiro Iwasaki’s cheerful Bridge Collection.
Forget matte nickel finishes! There is something totally cool and surreal about this white on white bathtub set up from Boffi.
The oh so colorful British designer Bethan Laura Wood showed her new pieces at Nilufar gallery, many of which featured her wild signature camo-like marquetry.
At Sapzio Rossana Orlandi, Ivan Pericoli and Benoît Astier de Villatte showed the fruits of their collaboration with John Derian—which struck me as a match made in heaven.
Dreamy glassware with varying degrees of milkiness by Boaz Cohen and Sayaka Yamamoto (who go by BCXSY) on view at Rossana Orlandi.
Louis Vuitton commissioned a handful of contemporary designers, including Patricia Urquiola and Oki Sato, to create a collection of “Objets Nomades.” Unsurprisingly, many of the resulting pieces, like this beach chair that folds into a backpack by Jay Ogersby and Edward Barber, combine bags and furniture for new takes on portable seating.
Flos reissued iconic lights by the cult designer Gino Sarfatti. Originally designed in 1951, Model No 584 has been updated to use an LED multichip instead of an incandescent bulb.
Marcel Wanders’s limited edition “Eye Shadow” light for Cappellini allows you to see through eyeballs of people who work in the designer’s studio.
At Vitra, the designer Hella Jongerius is working to add more color to the spectrum. This suite of pink seating in particular is very fall 2013.
Generally speaking, Knoll is hooked on its classics. But this Wassily chair by Marcel Breuer has gotten a chic update in canvas.
At Artek, they were taking votes on the new colors for the Ilmari Tapiovaara Lukki chair. I was partial to red and baby blue.
A one of a kind knitted light at Missoni home.
This Philippe Starck “Uncle Jack” bench was fresh out of the mold at Kartell. Apparently it is the largest injection molded plastic piece of anything ever made.
At Fendi Casa, a red crocodile piano that is also, amazingly, a bar!
Established & Sons set up shop in Milan’s hip Ventura Lambrate district where it anchored a trove of exhibitions largely made up of student work from the world’s best design schools. I love this wood and epoxy resin Udukuri table by Jo Nagasaka, It came out last year but looks totally 2013 in hot pink.