Milan Salone, or the annual Milan Furniture Fair, is the largest trade fair of its kind in the world. Simply put, it's like fashion week but for industrial designers. Since its origin in 1961—then only showcasing Italian furniture—Milan Salone nowadays highlights about 2,500 companies yearly from 150 countries. That said, it's alway exciting to see Asian brands make it to Milan Salone. Here are some of the highlights of Asian talents at this year's fair:
Judging by the long line outside of his solo show "Forms of Movement" in Superstudio Piu, this Japanese studio certainly needs no introduction. Here, a total of 10 ideas were laid out in 10 cave-like spaces, which are then connected in a labyrinth way. They included some familiar ones: the very revolutionary Zippppper Project for YKK, the Bouncy Layers chair for KUKA and the Paper-torch for Elephantech+TAKEO. Among the other newer concepts, it was the very literal Press Tiles for X'S that truly embodied his design philosophy: simple yet full of humour. What surprised visitors the most is at the end of the exhibition, where they're welcomed with a "very Japanese" capsule toy machines area! With 5 Euros, one will get a chance to own a piece of Nendo's Sketch Capsule Figures, courtesy of figurines manufacturer Kaiyodo.
And of course, if you're feeling affluent, you can also own Nendo's Softpond and Tangent home accessories collection for Atelier Swarovski Home, or the N01 Chair for Fritz Hansen.
Apart from working as the creative directors of Stellar Works, Neri&Hu founders Lyndon Neri & Rossana Hu have also been busy working with a couple of their regular clients, which included Italian furniture brand Poltrona Frau and Gan. For the former, they have designed one of the brand's two new lighting collections—a first for the company—called Xi, which is a series of pendant lamps that floats airily in space like Chinese lanterns or trapezes. Within the new Poltrona Frau's Objects collection of accessories, their Zhuang Series of stackable storage units, inspired by bento boxes also made its debut.
LAN, designed for the latter, is a collection of rugs, seating modules and dividers. This collection is the designers' way to pay homage to the eastern tradition of using indigo for dying fabrics that are normally used for home decoration - hence the name LAN, which means blue in Mandarin.
Although his first debut to the design world was at the recent Rising Talent Award at Maison&Objet Paris, Oshiro has been working in the industry for quite a while now, including working at Lissoni Associati until mid-2012. And his most notable design is the HOLO for Krisitalia 2 years ago. For 2018, among the four of his new releases, two stood out in particulra - and coincidentally, they're all chairs. The first one, the Arabesque armchair for Poltrona Frau, has the flexible grace of a dance in a subtle game of lines and curves. The other one, the CC01 Chiavari Chair for his brand, is a revisitation of the Campanino, the iconic Chiavari chair bearing the nickname of cabinetmaker Giuseppe Gaetano Descalzi.
Iwasaki might not be a household name (yet), but his KIIK design for Italian company Arper has indeed gotten all the attention from the brand during Milan Salone. This modular collection of seating, tables, ottomans, and consoles was designed to create moments for working, gathering, or relaxation in graphic forms with myriad configurations. Considering the contract market is still a blue ocean market, it's not hard to see the modular nature and material finish specification options of this design will make a complementary addition to any context, be it waiting rooms, university lounges, workspaces, meeting areas, or mixed-use spaces.
As for Iwasaki's history, after early work for the Sony Design Center and a brief stint in Milan, he then established his studio in Tokyo in 1995. His works range from Tableware, Wristwatch, Lighting, Furniture to electronic devices such as Digital Cameras and Mobile phones. He has been awarded a number of international design awards, including Japan's Good Design Award, iF Design Award, etc.
Founded by Italian Tomasso Nani and Japanese Noa Ikeuchi in 2012 and first exhibited at SaloneSatellite, Mist-O's rise in the design world has been slow but gradual. With previous projects for brands like Living Divani, Cappellini, Ichendorf, Oluce, and Tod's, their style has always been a good marriage between Ikeuchi's meaningful simplicity and Nani's formal strictness and functionality. For 2018, their daybed Daydream designed for Living Divani last year has finally confirmed for production, while another two projects are on the horizon.
First, Zenit, a new sofa collection for outdoor and indoor use made of aluminium and stainless steel, was designed for a new brand called Paola Zani. The main idea is to create a product which shares a language between indoor and outdoor furniture: very functional but with also a great physical and visual comfort. Then, for another glassware collection called Days, made in bubbled glass and designed for Ichendorf. The main idea is to try to create a connection between industry and craft designing a series of familiar everyday products.
Last but not least, Hong Kong designer André Fu's Ribbon Dances - a two-person "conversation" chair - made its way to the Louis Vuitton Objets Nomades exhibition in Palazzo Bocconi. The chair, which is a graceful echo of the movements of traditional Asian ribbon dances, sits balanced between the elegant curves of the wooden arms covered in Louis Vuitton leather, their shape evoking ideas of infinity and giving the chair its delightfully fluid profile.
Ribbon Dance was first shown in Hong Kong in March this year, in a stunning exhibition space designed by Fu, which featured other Objets Nomades. Created in 2012, the Objets Nomades collection keeps alive Louis Vuitton’s long tradition of beautifully crafted travel objects. Some of the world's most renowned designers have since imagined stunning travel-inspired Objets, which have then been made by Louis Vuitton. This year also sees Fu pursue a new design ethos for several key upcoming projects. Eight of Fu's new projects this year will centre on the concept of 'Modern Reflection'.
(Related: Milan Salone: New Designers Edition)