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Milan 2013: Spazio Rossana Orlandi

What better place to start a week in Milan than with a visit to Spazio Rossana Orlandi where established designers rub shoulders with young talents and fresh graduates? 

By Cassandra Pizzey /asdf 09-04-2013

Walking into the courtyard at Spazio Rossana Orlandi is usually like walking into a popular bar, people strewn across the many seats (most of which are new designs), people chatting about how their latest discoveries and designers taking a quick break from presenting their wares. 

What a difference arriving early on the first day of the Salone Internazionale del Mobile, when designers are still carefully unpacking, setting up shop or giving their first interview. Godmother of design Rossana Orlandi has been using her keen eye to discover and present the best international design at her multi-storey maze of a design space since 2002.

The location on Via Matteo Bandello never disappoints when it comes to Dutch design with some established names presenting year after year, such as Piet Hein Eek and Maarten Baas and some younger talents there for the first time such as Design Academy Eindhoven graduate Wonmin Park. 

Occupying a number of rooms at the former factory are Scholten & Baijings with new designs for Danish furniture brand HAY and a stunning tea and coffee set for silver manufacturer Georg Jensen. For HAY the duo have created a series of office ware including colourful binders and masking tape, alongside two tablecloth and napkin designs.

Downstairs in the basement there is a large collection of Dutch design, among them BCXSY. Presenting part IV of the Origin series, Sayaka Yamamoto (one half of BCXSY alongside Boaz Cohen) carefully opens and closes fragrant wooden boxes. “Here you see two concepts presented,” explains Yamamoto. “One is based on the wooden stages featured in Japanese tea ceremonies, the other (a series of ceramic vessels) uses a liquid clay glaze to illustrate their function.”

As always for their Origin series, BCXSY travelled to Japan without preconceived ideas, allowing them to create designs based purely on their experiences. The ceramics are classic Japanese shapes but have been tweaked by adding for instance an extra spout. The glaze shows how the items are intended to be used, or forms a pattern on a series of cups when stacked. “See it as a gesture”, says Yamamoto, “of course your free drink from the other spout or stack the cups differently.”

Shown alongside the two projects is another new design, this time for a young Osaka glass factory Inframince. Tableware made from glass is shown on a table, ranging from clear to white opaque. There a six gradations in total and each one slightly changes the way food or drink is perceived. “With the clearer gradations its clear the products are made from glass, but the more opaque it becomes, the more it could resemble porcelain for instance.”

Also spotted in the Rossana Orlandi basement is Wonmin Park, who has evolved his Unfocused table into Haze series. The tables and chairs which make up the collection have a strong focus on geometrical shapes combined with colour and more or less opaque material. According to Park, beauty is not necessarily the focus on one thing, but more a momentary haze which allows us to enjoy life.  

Lex Pott presents two new metal oxidation projects, a step on from his first research on various types of metal plates: True Colour. Now a series of vases and a large oxidized open cabinet have been added to the list and with products on show here, at Vitra and Ventura Lambrate, the designer is growing fast “and will soon have to hire some new people”. 

We’ll also be keeping our eyes firmly on Minale Maeda, a designduo comprising Kuniko Maeda and Mario Minale. Showing a table cloth and napkins adapted from vintage Chris Lebeau designs at the Textielmuseum (set up at the Dutch Embassy), here we find beautiful glass bowls, set upon tables which combine wood, plastic and concrete.

Main image: Scholten & Baijings
Other images: 1.-4. BCXSY 5. Lex Pott 6. Wonmin Park 7. Minale Maeda at the Textielmuseum Tilburg

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