Should you be looking for yet another reason to add Milan to your architectural travel itinerary, the Prada Foundation is scheduled to open its many doors to the public on May 9. Designed by Rem Koolhaas/OMA, the campus—part new construction, part rehabbed structures—will include 120,000 square feet of exhibition space, a theater, a children's area, a restaurant, and library. "It is surprising that despite the enormous expansion of art media, the number of typologies for the display of art remains limited," commented Koolhaas on his website. "It seems that art's apotheosis is unfolding in an increasingly limited repertoire of spatial conditions: The gallery (white, abstract, and neutral), the industrial space (attractive because of its predictable conditions which are meant to remain neutral when juxtaposed with any artwork), the contemporary art museum (a barely disguised version of the department store), and the purgatory of the art fair." The Prada Foundation is located in a former distillery at Largo Isarco, an industrial complex dating from 1910 that comprises seven existing buildings, including a warehouse, laboratories, and brewing silos surrounded by a large courtyard. OMA inserted three new structures into the site: a museum for temporary exhibitions, a transformable cinema building, and a ten-story gallery tower. Opening exhibits will draw on the holdings of the Prada Collection (which is heavy on 20th century and contemporary art) and works on loan from museums around the world. Projects commissioned for the occasion are also on the program; Robert Gober and Thomas Demand have created site-specific installations that engage the old and new architectures, and Roman Polanski has produced a documentary film that explores his cinematographic inspirations. [via NY Times.]
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No, you haven't stepped inside a dream world made of suspended toilet paper tissues. You are, however, inside an ethereal installation crafted by New York–based design studio Snarkitecture and created for the 2015 Salone del Mobile taking place this week in Milan. https://youtu.be/obi38URay-M Principles Daniel Arsham and Alex Mustonen crafted this light-filled, monochromatic "cave" for minimalist fashion brand, COS, collaborating with the brand's in-house creative team. The designers were going for an aesthetic of clean lines and ambiguous spaces, and we'd say they achieved those goals. The subtly swaying gradients created by light filtering through strips of fabric create an incredibly peaceful environment appropriate for clearing one's head after a hectic day at Salone. COS' creative team, headed by Karin Gustafsson and Martin Andersson, chose Snarkitecture for their design approach to "reduction," and the architects' work even influenced COS' Spring and Summer collections. The brand was sympathetic to what Snarkitecture described as "removing anything non-essential and focusing the viewer's experience." And in creating this ethereal cave of light, not even a blouse or pair of trousers can be found on display in the space. "Without the use of our garments, Snarkitecture have perfectly encapsulated the COS aesthetic, creating an installation that is unique in its simplicity and unexpected in its approach," Gustafsson said in a statement. "The final space has a sense of calmness and wonder that we hope visitors will explore and return to," Arsham and Mustonen said in a statement. "The undulating spaces and the shifting quality of light seem to create a different experience with each visit." And while these views show the space in isolated tranquility, the flurry of visitors through the strips will reveal glimpses and continuously change the experience of the cave. The installation is on view at Spazio Erbe in the Brera district through April 19—or for those of us without a press pass to Milan, here in video and photographic form.
In a rising-from-the-ashes revival, prominent Italian furniture brand Driade will debut a new showroom in Milan under the creative direction of British architect David Chipperfield, the company’s newly appointed artistic director. The opening of the three-story, 5,381-square-foot space marks an existential do-over for the firm, which folded in 2012 with debts of over €1.7 million (nearly US$2 million). At the time, the Italian design industry was notorious for chewing up and spitting out small, family-owned companies like Driade that invested disproportionately in product innovation and lacked the capital to expand or compete in the global market. Having cut a €7 million (nearly US$8 million) investment deal with Italian Creation Group in exchange for 80 percent equity, Driade is set to reboot with a showroom that declares its brand identity—from its iconic pieces to the latest designs. Recalling the brand’s infant years between 1968 and 1982, the first exhibition hallmarks the early vision of founders Enrico Astori, Antonia Astori, and Adelaide Acerbi. Celebrated designs from that period include Tokuyin Yoshioka’s monobloc Tokyo-Pop collection and Philippe Starck’s three-legged Costes cafe chair, which inspired an onslaught of clones and the movement of ordinarily mass-produced necessities like kitchenware, pasta and mineral water becoming designer duds. Partnering with top Italian and eventually world-renowned designers such as Patricia Urquiola and Oscar Tusquets, Driade was conceived with a vision to reconcile experimentation with mass production. Located in Via Borgogna 8, Milan, the showroom moonlights as a shop and a gallery showcasing objects and furnishings curated by Marco Romanelli.
At Salon del Mobile, the specialized trade show Eurocucina focuses on innovation in kitchen systems and appliances. This year, trends include a fascination with dark woods and the evolution of wall cabinets from closed boxes to open shelves. On the bathroom front, exhibitors at the Salone del Bagno were promoting unusual finishes and materials for plumbing fixtures and fittings. Valcucine Riciclantica Acciaio Now available with a glass worktop, ultra-thin doors, and a redesigned backsplash panel that facilitates installation around utility lines. Designed by Gabriele Centazzo. Snaidero Ola 25 In Ferrari Red lacquer, this limited-edition design commemorates the quarter-century anniversary of the kitchen manufacturer. Designed by Pininfarina. Scavolini Foodshelf Designed specifically for open-plan residences, the storage is modeled after living room furniture, rather than traditional kitchen cabinets. Designed by Ora-ïto. Leicht Xtend+ Automated louvered cabinet fronts can be raised and lowered via remote control or smartphone. Elmar @home The black walnut cooking island is modeled after a Venetian rowlock. Suspended steel cylinders house ventilation, lighting, and audio speakers. Designed by C+S Architects. Cesar Kalea Aluminum door-frames can be fitted with glass, wood, or ceramic panels in a variety of colors and finishes. Designed by G.V. Plazzogna. Kreoo Gong Available in four marbles, this 32-inch-by-13-inch basin can be installed as a countertop vessel or on a compatible pedestal. Designed by Enzo Berti. Dornbracht MEM in Cyprum Finish This new rose-gold-colored finish is a nuanced interpretation of polished copper; available on select fitting collections for bath and kitchen. MEM was designed by Sieger Design. Rexa Esperanto This component-based system provides flexible design alternatives that can be adapted to baths of different sizes and configurations. Designed by Monica Graffeo. Geberit Monolith A compromise between bulky floor-mounted commodes and in-wall installations, this toilet features a shallow tank that is sheathed in white or black glass. Axor Axor Starck V Fabricated of glass, this bathroom mixer puts hydrodynamics on display, with a swirling vortex created whenever the tap is turned on. Designed by Philippe Starck. Laufen IlBagnoAlessi One Offered in 35-inch and 47-inch versions, the curves of this console basin complement the strong lines of the walnut vanity cabinet. Designed by Stefano Giovannoni.
[beforeafter] [/beforeafter] The United States will celebrate one of its most prized national treasures at the next World’s Fair: the food truck. In honor of the theme of the 2015 Milano Expo—“Feed the Planet, Energy for Life"—the American Pavilion, called American Food 2.0, includes street-level food trucks that will serve up some favorite American dishes. James Biber, the New York City–based architect of the pavilion, told Business Insider, it's not been decided which food trucks will be included at the site, but that there will be lobster rolls "for sure." But the pavilion design doesn't end with food trucks. [beforeafter] [/beforeafter] The pavilion’s most visually distinctive feature, is its hydroponic facade—or, a football-field-length,vertical farm that is planted with harvestable crops. "It is as though a typical horizontal field was rotated (think Inception with a farm field standing in for Paris) to become the side of a building," said Biber Architects in a statement. "It's not our proposal for serious urban or vertical farming, which is usually indoors, but a didactic display talking about the past, present, and future of the American farm, and the American diet." Behind the vertical farm is an airplane hangar-sized door, which opens the structure to the public. A "boardwalk" made of recycled lumber from American boardwalks takes viewers from the first floor to the second. Above that is a roof-top terrace, which is partially covered in a glass shade and photovoltaic panels. Biber told Architectural Record that the masterplan for the Expo, which was partially designed by Herzog & de Meuron, is "the most urban" he's ever seen. Lots at the site are only 20-feet-wide to create a more dense fabric. The Expo opens its doors to the public on May 1, 2015. [beforeafter] [/beforeafter]
While much of the work introduced at Milan this year played it safe—distinctly conservative colors, forms familiar from the 1950s, cautious use of materials—some architects' designs took, shall we say, a bolder stance. But: Was it a better one? You, ever-opinionated reader, shall and no doubt will be the judge of that. Among the boldest of the bold designs this year were four pieces presented by Zaha Hadid. Most photos we've seen of the aluminum Manta Ray seating underscore its unfortunate semblance, not to the graceful sea creature, but to a giant human posterior. At AN, we're taking the high road, featuring this more abstracted view of the piece. But it may not be enough to erase the obvious imagery. Here, Hadid has designed a fireplace, which appears to have melted into a puddle of black marble. Ironically cold design, for an interiors element that generates heat. Thumbs up on this one. A rectangular top is a disciplined extension of the vaguely tripod-ish base. Great stone fabrication, and we wouldn't even mind bumping our knees on the legs of this terrific table. A welcome departure from the blobby, yes? But the mid-point of the unit seems to be a bit dysfunctional for shelving, lacking any level horizontal surfaces, but hey, it's all about the cantilever. Looking back on Salone 2014, it's interesting that one can fairly easily discern which pieces were architect-generated versus those that were created by industrial designers. The latter are trained (and paid) to produce commercially viable furniture collections, while the former are free to indulge in the making of domestic monuments.
It's easy to get overwhelmed at the Salone del Mobile and the dozens of related events during Milan Design Week. Luckily there are plenty of visual palate cleansers in form of immersive environments, from new showrooms by Pritzker Prize–winning architects to dazzling installations by up-and-coming designers. There is more to Milan Design Week than just great looking furniture! At the Triennale design museum, for instance, Paris-based DGT architects created a light-catching installation for Citizen watches called Light is Time (above), featuring space dividing curtains made of tens of thousands of watch plates. For the Swedish textile company Kinnasand, a division of Kvadrat, Toyo Ito designed a luminous new showroom to display the company's fabrics, many of which feature diaphanous qualities. Ito covered the walls in frosted glass, which gives them a shimmering quality as downlights tucked into the edge of the ceiling filter through the panels. The ceiling itself is paneled in reflective metal. Draped fabrics are displayed on curved metal rods suspended from the ceiling. Cassina tapped the rising Japanese star Sou Fujimoto to design a "floating forest" for their booth at the fairgrounds, arguably the most innovative display at the Salone. Fujimoto hung mirrored metal planters from the rafters, which held green Japanese maples. Canned bird noises added to the atmosphere, which felt both natural and surreal within the tradeshow hall. The reflective surfaces forced visitors to slow down within the booth, giving them more time to look at Cassina's classic and contemporary furnishings. Also at the fairgrounds, an invited group of architects—Shigeru Ban, Mario Bellini, David Chipperfield, Massimiliano and Doriana Fuksas, Zaha Hadid, Marcio Kogan, Daniel Libeskind, and Studio Mumbai—riffed on themes of domesticity with conceptual installations called, Where Architects Live. As far as installations like these at a furniture fair go, the installations were largely devoid of the trappings of daily life. Libeskind, for example, sliced deep voids into the walls, inset with screens showing videos about his personal history and architectural projects. Chipperfield showed of his German side, with photos of deliciously drab Berlin and clanging music underscoring the seriousness of the project.
The current Milan Triennale exhibition, running through December 2013, is on view in the city's Palace of Art building, part of Parco Sempione, the park grounds adjacent to Castello Sforzesco. Nancy Goldring visited the exhibit for AN and reports back on the highlights of the exhibit. When you enter the Milan Triennale, there is a line-up of fanciful chairs—rather a small version of Lucas Samaras' great show at the Whitney. But the exhibition itself promises a much more serious consideration of the world of design. The Association for Industrial Design (ADI) added a new category to its 2010 Trienniale Design: Service Design. This year in Design for Living, Luisa Bocchietto and the Triennale committee have added yet another new section—Social Design—those who have offered examples of responsible design, an attempt to get away from simply the design of beautiful objects and to focus on the activities of designers who are trying to make a contribution to the way we live and change the systems themselves. In the catalog Bocchietto says, "Creating new design products assumes that there has been an ethical reflection on their genuine usefulness. Certainly, there is a market to conquer and a job to do, but beyond this there is the urgent need to respond to certain questions that are no longer individual. We must address the problem of the use of resources, respect for the environment and future sustainability, social inequality, and ethical as well as economic sustainability." In the category of Social Design are a few projects that promise a new direction: Hispaniola-Design for Solidarity is a project for international relief and welfare design—an idea of Claudio Larger. The project was funded by the Italian ColorEsperanza in association and managed by the Domincan One' Respe NGO for inner city and disadvantaged areas of the Dominican Republic, where Haitian and Dominican children are unable to attend state schools. From ten prototypes the jury selected three designs to be produced by a local Dominican joinery—to generate workshops to create local products such as tables and chairs for the schools. Then Best Up is a non profit organization founded in 2006 to promote sustainable living through dialogue and sharing of knowledge and experiences. The idea is to spread good models that improve skills and share resources concerning personal wellbeing and the public good. It offers a way to promote collaboration between urban and rural sectors. It becomes a kind of center for the sharing information about smaller businesses and organizations that are attempting to change the way we live. This show—the presentation of their system—was selected in particular by ADI for its new format, Good Design Work Well to Live Better, that travels to spread information throughout the country. New Scenarios for Living has been examining water as a resource, in ways that respect the environment while also respecting cultural differences. It focuses on the recognition of the access to water as a universal right. It is exploring ways for protect and to save water supplies. Finally a powerful part of the exhibition is a show of objects and photos from Mathare in Nairobi documenting the ability of a community to adapt local materials and simple objects to produce new and useful forms. The show was beautifully curated by Fulvio Irace.
At Salone del Mobile in April, French designers Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec demonstrated what it’s like to take a spin in a BMWi. Quiet Motion, the Bouroullec brothers’ interactive interpretation of the sustainable electric car brand, was an installation open for visitors to climb onto revolving platforms to relax as the world leisurely passed around them. Situated within a picturesque cloister of a Milanese monastery, four spinning cork platforms rotated slowly and quietly as, according to the brothers, “an allegorical interpretation of movement and contemplation.” The designers construed the concept of sustainable mobility with materials such as fabrics made of the sustainable wool yarn used as seat upholstery in the electric car and lightweight carbon columns produced using renewable energy resources. To reference materials used in car design, blue fabric strips surrounded each of the four carousels and leather covered the platforms. Bouroullec brothers-designed Aim lamps hung from the ceilings and illuminated the area at night. Materials commonly associated with furniture and interiors such as cork and fabrics were also utilized.
Patrizia Moroso, art director at Moroso, recently chatted with AN about her impressions of ICFF, working with Patricia Urquiola, and the design house's plans for New York Design Week. What are your impressions of ICFF? It is something very important for the U.S. and for New York. For me, around the fair and outside the pavilions, there's a lot organized in town. The fair is growing. For example, Milan [Furniture Fair] has become so important these years. In Milano, we have something like 3,000 events around design week but this means that people are excited. Now, New York is becoming something like this. You have so much happening around it. The interest and the dialogue between the institutions and the companies and firms can carry on in and around the fair. What is Moroso doing for ICFF? It takes place one month after Milano, so we usually present a few of those releases, [since] that is the big show for us. It's natural to present what we've done in Milano but with another special twist. This year we're transforming the space for Patricia [Urquiola] and in the window [overlooking Greene Street] we're showing the things we've done for Patricia and Kvadrat. We were talking months before the fair so we decided to do something together. Fabric is great for upholstery and we have an installation that was amazing for me. We won an important award in Milano and are happy to say we were the winners this year, so we can show just a glimpse of that here in New York. Because the installation was so big—it took 10 days to install in the [Milan] space—it was not easy to reproduce. Some [challenges were] material, some immaterial. But the exhibition we had [there] was not possible to reproduce here. How did you start working with Patricia Urquiola? About 14 years ago, she was just starting in the design profession. She was managing projects in another big studio in Milano but her name wasn't attached [to her work], as it happens a lot with young designers. A common friend called me to tell me about her; "She's a young designer who's ready to tell her own story. I think you'll be perfect match." I saw her work and energy, and we started working together [pretty much] right away. We are good friends and work together a lot. We are sharing many things, even outside of our profession. Our lives are very intertwined. Is there anything special about showing in New York? The mood here is very happy and bright. It's spring here, [so with the] flowers [in the window] we're trying to recreate that feeling. We painted the showroom in all bright colors, just like space in Milano and we are carrying a mood that we started in Italy. What you see in the window are prototypes that we are presenting but are not yet in production. These are really new things. For example, we are showing our new sofa system, MASSAS, an acronym for Moroso Asymmetric Sofa System Adorably Stitched. Its massive and delicate at once: it's not a common piece of furniture. The other things we will present is our new fabric collection in new colors. Everything is coordinated with the new colors and flowers because the collection is happy. It's not feminine but the approach is very sweet. We want to be optimistic and joyful. For us, it's a new style. What is your favorite thing about coming to New York? The energy, the air—it sparkles! You can come on a rainy day but the morning after everything twinkles. There's something about it. You walk the streets and you're happy. The air in your face is sweet; maybe it's the ocean? The light? It's the atmosphere. If you sit at a cafe and see the people walking, you can see the planet in an hour. You see all the nations here. That, for me, is incredible. When you put all the different people together you have a fantastic melting pot here in the city. It's the power of humanity. I really hope to work more in a country like this, that I love so much. The possibilities here are grand. I really like the thinking here. I meet a lot of architects and designers and everyone is so special. Things are moving fast, projects are growing, it's all very interesting. There's lots of energy in terms of thinking, too. It's all very positive and fast paced.
AN had boots on the ground at the 2013 Milan Furniture Fair, taking the air and parsing the differences. This year saw an abundance of collaborations between furniture designers and architects. What follows is the second half of our greatest hits, everything from modular shelving and sleek hardware to design-forward consoles and practical seating. View even more architect-designed furniture from Milan in the first section of our roundup here. Parrish Collection Emeco In conjunction with its collaboration with Konstantin Grcic on the mobile interiors of the new Parrish Art Museum, Emeco released the Parrish Collection of modular indoor–outdoor chairs and tables. Chairs are available with three recycled aluminum frame designs that can be combined into four seat options, including one made of locally sourced wood from Lancaster, Pennsylvania. Ovetto Wallsystem FLOS Continuing his collaboration with Flos, Antonio Citterio designed the new Ovetto wall light for functional up- and down-lighting on walls. The light can be mounted on a rosette or in its own socket. Other additions to the Wallsystem collection include a long-necked Minikelvin design and Disco, a pivoting head that allows for adjustable directional lighting. Tools for Life Knoll Celebrating 75 years of design at this year’s Salone, Knoll introduced its new Tools for Life collection designed by Rem Koolhaas’ practice, OMA. The twelve-piece collection is designed to facilitate the flow between office and social life with adjustable tables and consoles available in a range of Knoll finishes. Dream Chair Carl Hansen & Son Pritzker Prize–winning Japanese architect Tadao Ando and Carl Hansen & Son teamed up to pay tribute to Danish furniture designer Hans Wegner, one of Ando’s own influences. Designed with a single piece of bent plywood atop a bent plywood base, the chair is also available in oak and American walnut with optional leather upholstery. Stack Shelving Paustian Designed by professor and architect Anders Brix, Paustian’s Stack shelving system is made up of stacking elements that lock into each other, allowing the shelves to be assembled without tools. Elements are available in six colors and are easily reconfigured based on evolving needs at home or at the office. ColoRing Collection Schemata Architects Young Tokyo-based architect Jo Nagasaka, founder of Schemata Architects, reinterprets the traditional technique of Udukuri, in which a wood surface is polished to reveal its coarse grain pattern, applying bright paint leftover from construction sites before polishing the surface smooth. The collection includes a variety of tables, chairs, benches, and stools.
AN had boots on the ground at the 2013 Milan Furniture Fair, taking the air and parsing the differences. This year saw an abundance of collaborations between furniture designers and architects. What follows is the first half of our greatest hits, everything from modular shelving and sleek hardware to design-forward consoles and practical seating. View even more architect-designed furniture from Milan in the second section of our roundup here. Kelly Seating Tacchini Multidisciplinary design office Claesson Koivisto Rune was inspired by American artist Ellsworth Kelly when they created the Kelly seating collection for Tacchini. The line features three pieces—Kelly E, H, and L—with cushions that reference the bold colors and irregular shapes common in the artist’s sculptures atop delicate frames coated in matching paint. Terreria Bookcase Moroso With a name formed from the words “terracotta” and “libreria” (the Italian for bookcase), the Archea Associati-designed Terreria shelving system is a made-to-measure ceramic bookcase. Its modular components are available in various types of clay and glazed porcelain stoneware and in three different geometric configurations, which can be assembled into an almost infinite variety of shapes. Mercuric Tables Citco First-time fair exhibitor Citco launched its Mercuric Tables Limited Edition by Zaha Hadid with the goal of reinvigorating often bland Veronese marble with the architect’s modern touch. The collection includes three organically shaped tables that can be combined in various configurations. The pieces are available in Black Marquina or Bianco di Covelano with a gold vein. Studio Offecct Specialists in architecture and urban development, Ben van Berkel and UN Studio continue their exploration of furniture design with Studio, a system of public-space seating. Lightweight and easily rearranged, the collection includes several seat versions: Studio Twin, Studio Twin Beam, and Studio Easy Chair Right and Left, allowing users to choose between open and closed seating configurations. Silenzio Luceplan Designer Monica Armani developed the idea for Luceplan’s new sound-dampening Silenzio collection after furnishing a corporate hallway with lamps and wall panels upholstered in Kvadrat fabrics. The new family of suspension lamps and luminous panels improves acoustic comfort and is available in the Remix 2 family of fabrics, a grisaille-inspired textile designed by Giulio Ridolfo for Kvadrat. Nina Door Handle Olivari Daniel Libeskind’s Nina door handle for Olivari is designed to invite users to open a door and explore what lies beyond. Libeskind may be known for bold forms, but the Nina door handle shows his restrained side with its simple elegant design. The tapered design is available in three formats and three finishes.