Running concurrently with Milan Salone since 1998, SaloneSatellite was the first event to focus on young designers, instantly becoming the unrivalled place to interface with manufacturers, talent scouts and the most promising young designers. Its creation was essentially a declaration of faith in the creative potential of designers under 35. Many of the prototypes presented in the previous editions have gone into production, and many of the 10,000 designers who have taken part over the years, along with 270 international design schools, are now big names on the design scene including Matali Crasset, Patrick. Jouin, Sebastian Wrong, and of course, Nendo!
For 21 years, SaloneSatellite has been the breeding ground for young and rising designers. With the largest number of Asian designers participating this year (33 per cent), will there finally be a successor to the Nendo throne? Let's find out.
Boosting a multiple award-winning CV, Grado seems more like a brand than a young graduate/designer at SaloneSatellite. Nevertheless, it still piqued our interest and curiosity in this China-based "designer". Founded by Chai Xiaodong, a graduate in Furniture and Interior Design from Zhejiang A & F University, Grado focuses in worldwide contract furniture, already selling in 14 countries and areas after its start less than three years ago.
At SaloneSatellite, apart from Chai's Red Dot Award-winning Koi Screen, there's also a sofa inspired by the sitting Buddha; cushions inspired by traditional Chinese costumes; screens that looked like Hangzhou's paper umbrella; and a chair that is a combination of Windsor chair and a common bamboo chair. But it was Mario Tsai's Two Halves Mirror that has the most potential to be an international hit. The front might look like a simple set of plane geometry, but the two-dimensional lines extend as a three-dimensional form when they are associated with a mirror. When there is a beam of light, the interlacing of the grid makes the shadow on the wall fascinating and interesting.
Entitled "Undiscovered", Korean designer Jiwon Kim's new collection is the result of her interpretation into hand-tufted carpets and ceramic sculptures. While the latter might be a little too crafty for our taste, the former might just suit any carpet companies in the industry now like Nanimarquina or CC-Tapis.
The two carpets on display, "jib, home" and "go-hyang, homeland", more simplified in colours and forms to leave room for imagination. Inspired by vivid colours and forms from Korean landscapes, these carpets are quite different from the previous one that she had shown at SaloneSatellite, as they were "more focused on specific figures and sceneries." So whether they hang as wall art or simply lay on the floor, Jiwon's work will definitely enhance the new Korean cultural experience to a wider audience.
Hsiang Han Design
Hsiang-Han Design's works are always inspired by nature, mainly concentrating on the exploration of biological structure and technology - that's quite obvious - which is why at first glance most of the work from Hsiang-Han Hsu also reminded us of the greats such as Ross Lovegrove and Zaha Hadid.
With a background working with domestic and foreign industry (plastic, 3D Printer, glass, marble, wood, electronic technology…etc), Hsu's new venture into the furniture arena has seen him designing a range of lighting, furniture, and objects that can be mass produced, given the right circumstances. For example, VORTEX Chair and LAYER Shelf could work for Mosoro, while CELL lighting would be a great addition to Luceplan or Nemo's collection. Better start making connections, Mr Hsu!
Washi, the Japanese traditional craft paper with a history of about 1400 years, has made quite a comeback at Milan Salone this year. But while other designs tend to purchase their Washi stock for production, Satsuma Washi is actually a design company producing “Washi”, run by designer Keiko Haraguchi! And at SaloneSatellite, she used her handmade washi to create these TSUNAGARU Light, which looked organic yet alien from afar.
Looked closer, you'll discover that the lighting is made up of 8 parts with different shapes and patterns that you can remove and rearrange. So each piece can be used as a stand-alone unit, or you can arrange the length of the lighting freely by connecting multiple pieces - it's truly a rare design that's handcrafted and yet total democratic!
Room for Milk
If you can't get enough of Nendo's work, Room For Milk might be a new alternative. Inspired by the act of leaving some room for your milk when you're ordering coffee, this multidisciplinary studio will always focus on flexibility and personalisation with unique narratives. Hence, their first collection "Adaptable Living" tapped into the concept of how allowing the individual to customise and change their furnishings around their lifestyle will create a new connection and awareness to one's furniture and create a comfortable and fun living.
From a candle holder that can be positioned in two ways; to a lighting fixture that rocks like a baby cradle, Room for Milk's creations have certainly brought out the "Kawaii-ness" of Japanese design while maintaining functionality. Among them, our favourite is definitely the Segment Vase, which is a bookend that is also a vase. The two portions can be attached to make a wider and complete vase, or simply used separately as two smaller vases. Why haven't we thought of that?
Already become a regular sight at SaloneSatellite (his 2nd year this time around), Yusuke Watanabe has become one of our favourite Japanese young designers. With only three designs at his booth, Watanabe certainly has made his mark with his clean and multifunctional designs, not to mention colourful pieces. Entitled "Daily Vividness", his Parachute hanger first caught our eye with its orange/blue to white gradient colour. It looked like an architecture wall sculpture, but actually, when each "slot" is pulled down, you can use the hanger to store your coat, your magazine, etc.
Then there's the Tet. rug. A small rug that has a Tetris form, easy for customisation and will suit any space in your home. Although we think it might not be quite the most innovative design around, it does give an opportunity for any company looking into creating a carpet line to invest—let's hope that it won't be copied before that happens.
Last but not least, it's third-time's-the-charm for Taiwan's Pistacchi Design. After winning the SaloneSatellite Award last year with his Comma Stool, studio founder and designer Mike He is back with a whopping 11 new designs - kind of like the last hurrah since it's his last go at Salone Satellite. From his first participation in 2016, Mike has been creating products that will bring people positive feelings and lead them to experience their daily like once again in a fresh way.
This year he started with Comma (i.e. last year's winning design) as his inspiration, and tried to find some ideas in the cultural elements of "seat" in Taiwan and Europe, and eventually developed two new seating designs: CUT stool and Ribbons chair. And of course, there's the SWITCH table lamp, which first appeared at the Hualien International Stone Workshop Exhibition, is now turned into a colourful version, which will delight adults and kids alike.
However, what we're most crazy about is the Stairs lamp that can only be described as a pendant lamp with a round blub "rolling down" the stairs. Its humorous and yet poetic characteristic is what we remembered of Mike's design since the beginning with the "Peeing Dog" Gotcha! table lamp. We sure do hope that Flos or Vibia can take a chance on this design in the future!
(Related: Milan Salone: Asian Designers Edition)