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Great Expectations

Between them they have over 25 years of experience in Milan. spoke to four experts in the field of design about their experiences and expectations of the Salone del Mobile.

By Cassandra Pizzey / 05-04-2012

Journalist and author Jeroen Junte has been to Milan design week for the past ten years, designer Miriam van der Lubbe has presented in Milan since 1998, Dirk van der Kooij showed his (now world-famous) robot-arm last year and for entrepreneur and designer Jólan van der Wiel, 2012 will mark his first visit.

Design journalist and author of "Hands On! Dutch Design in the 21st Century" Jeroen Junte has visited the Milan Furniture Fair for ten years “no exception”.

So, what makes Milan so special?

“In previous years the focus has changed from product to ‘experience’. Brands such as Toshiba and Sony present installations which play on multiple senses. The Barber Osgerby installation for Sony in 2011 was extraordinary, an immense darkened room featured structures made from sound-absorbing foam. The result was a space where sight and sound were suppressed, allowing visitors to hear the razor sharp sounds made by Sony’s equipment. It was claustrophobic, but an inspiring experience.”

Any highlights from previous years?

“That could be Maarten Baas’ Real Time presentation. His clocks featured people drawing, painting or building the time with waste materials. Baas played a refined game with reality by linking human acts to the passing of time. As a viewer you were forced to take time, and that in the hectic buzz of Milan at a time when the crisis was starting to hit.”

What are you looking forward to this year?

“Getting lost in the city centre, walking into somewhere marked by an Interni flag and being surprised.”

What should we all visit during the Salone del Mobile 2012?

The Salone Satellite. All the attention goes to hotspots such as Tortona and Lambrate or the Rho Fiera itself where all the brands present themselves. That same exhibition building houses a fair for young talents who don’t have the connections or financial means to presents themselves in the city. Each year there are a few gems in there.”

For Miriam van der Lubbe of Van Eijk & Van der Lubbe, Milan 2012 marks the launch of new label USUALS and the exhibition Spring.

Tell us about your first experiences in Milan.

“We started presenting after graduation in 1998, when the Salone wasn’t quite as big as today. We decided to commit to a few years in Milan and showed together with Richard Hutten, Ineke Hans and other Dutch designers. It was very exciting but we got a lot of publicity.”

What is your favourite memory of Milan?

“That has to be working for the Bloemenbureau (Flower Council). We were given free reign as long as we worked with flowers, a very precious and expensive material. The aim was to generate a lot of press. During a taxi ride we asked the driver what his favourite presentation was and he showed us pictures of ours, wonderful. But it was great to be one of the first to show at Ventura Lambrate too!”

What are you looking forward to this year?

“The exhibition Spring which is coming to Milan (curated by Van der Lubbe) is pretty exciting. Also we aim to make a mark with the international launch of the new label USUALS.

What are the must-sees whilst in Milan?

“Visit the Last Supper by Michelangelo! Also Ventura Lambrate is a great area and at night, when all the parties are finished, head over to Bar Basso to spot your favourite designers.”

Adress: USUALS Venture Lambrate, Via privata Oslavia 8

Designer Dirk van der Kooij earned himself worldwide recognition (and a few prizes here and there) with his robot arm, shown during the Milan Furniture Fair last year.

Tell us about your experiences in Milan.

“This year will be my third time presenting work in Milan, first was with my Elephant-skin stool through an internship at Ingo Maurer, last year with my graduation project Endless for the Design Academy Eindhoven. It was great to see how much my conceptual and experimental ideas were picked up by the public during the Salone del Mobile. People seemed to understand my products and appreciated my work.”

What did you get out of the experience?

“It brought me a lot. Not only new clients but especially attention from the worldwide press.”

What will you show us this year?

“Firstly I’m part of the Spring exhibition, but DOMUS magazine is also featuring my work in it’s Future in the Making exhibition. I’m bringing the robot arm along and we’ll be presenting new products in the Endless series such as a transparent lamp and a cabinet. Also, I have developed a new product made from ingots (a metal bulk material which is processed to make other products). I have left the material untouched and created a table from these rough shapes.”

Address: The Future in the Making: Palazzo Clerici, Via Clerici, 5, Milan
Spring - Excellence, Talent and Inspiration in design: Studio Zeta, Via Friuli 26

We also spoke to  Jólan van der Wiel – known for his Gravity Stools and Tool – who will visit the Milan Furniture Fair for the first time this year.

What will you be presenting at Milan and where can we find you?

“I’ll be in the Ventura Lambrate area, hosted by Organisation in Design and will be showing my Gravity Stools and Tool as well as some other new objects. Instead of a static show there will be live demonstrations each day showing how I make the Gravity Stools.”

What are you expecting from Milan?

“During and after the Salone del Mobile you are bombarded with press about the fair and its presentations. I have done a few shows this year but it seems there is a huge Dutch delegation which goes to Milan each year. Personally I’d like to get more exposure for my work, really make a mark. Also it would be good to get galleries interested and maybe some commissions for the Gravity Stools.”

Is there anything you particularly want to see this year?

“I’d like to see works by befriended designer Dirk van der Kooij and Floris Wubben but I’ll probably be lucky if I manage to see all of Ventura Lambrate.”

Have you been given any tips by other Dutch designers?

“Talking to other people about Milan is how it all got started. It will depend on how my work is presented in Milan but as a recent graduate I really hope to get the ball rolling after design week.”

Address: Ventura Lambrate, VENTURA LAB, via Massimiano 6, Milan

Main image: USUALS

Other images: 1. Jeroen Junte 2. Hands On! 3. Miriam van der Lubbe and Niels van Eijk 4. USUALS 5. Dirk van der Kooij 6. Detail of lamp to be shown in Milan 7. Jólan van der Wiel 8. Gravity Stool

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