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Milan 2013: Trending, Urban Nomads

Where last year many Milan presentations were awash with technological advances, this year sees many designers longing for a simpler approach. Back to core values, appreciation of materials and an all-together slower pace of life. 

By Cassandra Pizzey / 15-04-2013

Lidewij Edelkoort’s presentation NOMADISMI in Milan’s Altai gallery is an example of how the wireless revolution has made it possible for us to live and work in multiple spaces. It shows how our need for fixed furniture is diminishing and a hang towards adaptable objects is increasing. 

Together with Raffaele Carrieri, Edelkoort has created a nomadic landscape at the gallery, incorporating traditional handcraft weaved carpets and modern design. 

According to the trend forecaster, as the borders between spaces become blurred, objects will become more hybrid, blending shapes, forms and functions, materials and processes to create new and easier uses. 


A large photo at the Arco stand at the Salone illustrates this perfectly. On the one hand we see a table in a stately home, laid to perfection for a dinner party. The other half of the picture shows the same table, now in an industrial setting with an architect building a scale model. The same table then, in this case a design by Bertjan Pot, can be used for multiple purposes, at work and home. 


Arco’s latest product, table Base designed by Jorre van Ast, also applied these principles of simpler living. Made from solid wood and concrete, the table is sturdy and extremely durable. The wood itself is part of the brand’s new Local Wood collection, buying wood locally (within a 150 km radius) allows lower transport cost and makes use of Dutch wood which is usually only used as wood chips. 


Over at Droog – which is this year celebrating 20 fruitful years of product design, collaborations and initiatives – we also see the influence of ‘digitalism’ and a different form of urban nomads. In a screening of ‘A Beautiful Future’ by Droog Lab and Metahaven we see how the influence of digital infrastructure has caused us to live not via our tangible surroundings but rather via our computer and smartphone screens. 


But Droog also shows our interest for the past in its Rijksmuseum objects by Studio Droog and JongeKalff. From rubber table cloths to transfer tattoos and classical cutlery, historic icons were reinvented inspired by the 125,000 digital images that make up the collection of the Rijksmuseum. 


Many other brands are focussing on multifunctional furniture or spaces suitable for various different activities. Take for instance PROOFF and UNStudio’s SitTable, a table-cum-lounge designed for work, interactivity and relaxation. Moreover, the brand and the architectural studio put their heads together this year to host a series of talks in Milan which focussed on co-creation, communication and curation, among others. 


It’s clear then that designers and brands are honing in on today’s needs for flexible work spaces, functional designs and honest materials. Whether we’ll form a legion of urban nomads or just move our laptops to the bedroom, Milan 2013 offers many ideas and trends for the coming year. 

Main image: Nomadismi
Other images: 1. Nomadismi 2.-3. Arco 4. Droog 5. Prooff/UNStudio

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