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Milan 2012 highlights part one

From Heineken balloons to beer drinking in the street, the Dutch are ever-present on Via Tortona where many brands are presenting themselves this year.

By Cassandra Pizzey / 17-04-2012

Commercial and crowded where words often used to describe the reduced popularity of the Tortona area during the Salone del Mobile in Milan. But the Via Tortona and surrounding streets offer some real gems this year.

A number of brands have made a move from Ventura Lambrate or downtown Milan to Zona Tortona. Take Via Novi 5 which now houses De Vorm, Frederik Roijé, Weltevree and new brand New Duivendrecht. These four creative companies were scattered around various parts of the city in previous years but have come together in what feels like an upscaled abandoned warehouse.

New Duivendrecht (by Victor le Noble and Frederik Roijé) is a new designer brand which unites the work of young designers such as Nieuwe Heren and Sjoerd Jonkers. In addition to an understated aesthetic, the products focus on industrial production, allowing them to be made and sold at a reasonable price instead of as one-offs or limited editions.

Another ‘collective’ which has moved from its old spot is Tuttobene, now housed between Via Voghera and Via Tortona, a large courtyard space where many international brands have settled.

This year Tuttobene offered non-Dutch designers a chance to be part of the show and it certainly paid off. We spotted the rather arousing work named Aphrodisiac by Studio Appétit which comprise a series of tableware and matching courses based on sexual encounters. From the ‘foreplay’ of the amuse, to the ‘lust of flesh’ ensuing during the main course or the ‘climax’ at dessert, each course is designed with a couple’s interaction in mind.

Back on the Dutch side of the show we found Rianne Koens’ Oturakast, a cabinet featuring a stack of drawers which each have a pair of foldable legs, allowing them to turn into stools for guests. Tjmke de Boer’s ‘Table Knap’ (named after her studio Knap Ontwerp) also caught our eye, combining the lightest of stained glass window with a frame to create a table.

But each of the designs at Tuttobene have in common that materials and techniques have been used in new combinations to create interesting objects. Yes there are more chairs and tables, but most stem from a need for material research, rather than product design.

Leaving the Zona Tortona for a minute Tom Dixon and Most offered a smidgen of Dutch design in the form of Transnatural. This Amsterdam-based label works with some of the most innovative designers who play on the borders between art and design, technology and nature. The newest addition to the collection are the Trace Lights by Gionata Gatto and Mike Thompson which use photosynthetic pigments in the lampshades to generate light from waste energy.

Our final highlight of the day was unexpectedly found at Japan Creative, a collaborative project between designers and manufacturers which aims to highlight Japanese craft and aesthetics. Among the designers present was Nacho Carbonell whose Dome Carbon Magic had visitors jumping up in the air. The devises made from carbon fibre (refined through years of racing car development) produce a a sound by using the material’s resilient properties.

Main image: Nacho Carbonell
Other images: 1. New Duivendrecht 2. Frederik Roijé 3. Weltevree 4. Nienke Sybrandy 5. Studio Appétit 6. Rianne Koens 7. Tjimke de Boer 8. Transnatural 9. Gionata Gatto and Mike Thompson 10. Ineke Hans for SCP London 11. Heineken promo team at Zona Tortona

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