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Craft Punk Rocked

Clearly THE highlight of the whole Milan design week, Craft Punk was a dynamic, inspiring celebration into the processes of design featuring a who's who of today's emerging designers, including three from or based in The Netherlands.

By Jeanne Tan / 08-05-2009

Getting a taxi during rush hour in Milan is NEVER a good idea. However desperation set in as the final hours of the Design Miami-organised event 'Craft Punk' were fast approaching. There was no other solution.

Normally, the last moments of exhibitions would start winding down, however upon arrival, the space still appeared buzzing with visitors and activity and the designers looked like they were totally in their element.

Curated by Design Miami in collaboration with FENDI, the event featured ten international emerging designers who created their designs live and onsite as a sort of performance. They were invited to work within traditional, or hand-made, craft methods and most used discarded materials from the FENDI production process, such as Selleria leather, branded fabrics, plastic decorative elements, and metal hardware. The set up at Spazio FENDI resembled a collection of individual studios had relocated to Milan just for the three days, machinery, materials, chaos and all. The designers even slept there in specially kitted out rooms. The idea was that throughout the three days, visitors could follow the evolution of the products and get a glimpse into the design process and production methods.

“Craft is an area of design production that designers often turn to in the early stages of their careers,” Design Miami/ Associate Director Wava Carpenter points out. “The materials are relatively simple and the quality of the finished products can be controlled through their own talent and
attention to detail. In addition, the hands-on nature of craft-based design allows for the greatest degree of expressiveness and narrative.” Design Miami/ Director Ambra Medda comments, “We want people to reproach the word ‘craft’ by reclaiming it from the world of folksy quilting and re-engaging with the simple notion of things made by hand."

The first installation located by the entrance gave an exciting prelude for things to come. Clad entirely in a tan-coloured Fendi Haute Couture leather suit, Tomás Gabzdil Libertiny was busy welding on a platform. Intense at work behind a protective mask, Libertiny was showered with red sparks from the welding of his rotating hollow circular object. His installation 'The Weldgrown Void' fused welding with a turntable associated with clay tables. The rotating mechanism itself is used for welding pipes. "The welding is combined with a semi-robotic system which consists of a rotation turn table and a fixed jig that holds the welding gun", Libertiny explained. "In combination with these elements, you can build an object straight from the welding wire and control the way the layers are added." Besides looking good, his leather suit provided protection against the heat and sparks, with the intention that the leather would be burned by the sparks, becoming an artifact in itself. "It's been great for the visitors to see the transformation of the object but also for understanding the process. You see, you think, you follow. It's also a process in understanding."

Inside at the front, intriguing bulbous-looking animals roamed amongst mounds of coloured scraps of FENDI leather at Nacho Carbonell's installation 'Beast'. Inspired by the D-I-Y approach of punk culture, Carbonell stapled the scraps together to fashion skins for the creatures which were moulded from chicken wire.

Studio Glithero (Tim Simpson and Sarah van Gameren) explored the 'Brief Moment of Happiness'. Their aim was to capture and reveal the moment of conception, the purest instant when a thing transforms from nothing to something. Flowers were strapped to white ceramic vases - treated with photo-reactive chemicals - which through exposure to light, slowly become vivid Prussian blue. Underneath the flowers, their silhouette remained where the vase was protected from the light.

The other designers contributing to ‘Craft Punk’ included Simon Hasan, Sarah Becker, Yuri Suzuki & Household, Kwangho Lee, Raw-Edges, Peter Marigold, and Massimiliano Adami.

After seeing day after days of only static finished products, it was refreshing to see movement and energy, watch the designers at work and meet and chat with them. If only it could have been on for longer - however Nacho Carbonell's stapler hand would probably disagree with that.

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