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5 minutes in Milan with…Bertjan Pot

New works from Bertjan Pot were seen all over Milan this week including a knitted sweater chair with six arms for Established and Sons and rotten tomato bean bags for Food Marketo.

By Jeanne Tan / 17-04-2010

5 minutes in Milan with…Bertjan Pot

Tell me about the chair for Established & Sons.
It is…..seamless. This is its best feature. You know the old ways of making berets where they knit or crochet a very big beret and then wash it very hot, so it shrinks and turns to felt. It's like when you've washed your favourite knitted sweater in the washing machine and it shrinks and you think oh no! But the material that comes out is actually very nice. Normally the problem for using knitted material for upholstery is that there's too much stretch. So by washing it very hot it and shrinking it, the material gets good abrasion and it's more suitable for upholstery.

How do they shrink the cover?
They just throw it in the washing machine at 75 degrees. It's very wide when they knit if first. It's knitted on a machine normally used for knitting sweaters all in one go. Like those sweaters with no seams. This cover on there is like a sweater with 6 arms.

What kind of wool is it?
It's just wool made for felting and shrinking.

And the form of the chair?
The chair would be hard to upholster with normal seams all over. With the stretch in the materials I could do a very organic shape.

And what else have you got on this week?
Revolving chandelier at moooi which I presented myself last year. They are still presenting a prototype, but now it's based on techniques for production. A light for Moustache made from material normally used for photography umbrellas. There's also a light at Skitsch made of fireproof paper material but I haven't seen it yet.

Isn't that a bit scary to see your product for the first time in Milan?
Yes! I try to avoid this if i can. On the first day, there's a lot of remarks, after the second day it looks better. The first time, it's usually seen in an empty, white space so you see everything. Then when there's people around, it's more natural and all the details that you think are bad, they fade away.

And Arco?
At Arco I have a chair called Mesh Mesh (I hope they called it that). It's made from two layers of knitted mesh in acrylic and wool (known as 3D mesh fabric or spacer fabric). There is no foam in-between, just the mesh pulled over the frame so it looks upholstered. Normally it's used as a cover underneath your mattress, it helps aerate the mattress.  

Anything else?
For a party at Apartmento magazine (Food Marketo), they asked designers to send stuff in that had something to do with food. So I made these: bean bag pillows that are rotten tomatoes. I think they were expecting edible or cooking stuff! People can sit or lie your head on it: they might be wondering what this weird orange thing is with fur/mould on it and then they turn it around to sit on it and see the top of the tomato and think… yuck disgusting!

What do you like/dislike about Milan?
Meeting friends I like. Design on pedestals and spotlights and shouting for attention, I don't like. 

Main image: Established and Sons
Images 2&3: Moustache
Images 4&5: Arco
Image 6: Revolving Chandelier 

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