Contrasts - Trend report from Milan Design Week (Part 2)

May 13, 2014

Contrasts and dramatic eclecticism from Milan Design Week

Milan Design Week left our heads buzzing with impressions, ideas and inspiration. Now that we have gathered our thoughts, the most striking and lasting impression was contrast. Contrasts between old/new. Polished and rugged. Minimalistic and maximalistic. Technological and traditional craftsmanship. The most vivid example is perhaps the exhibition at Museo Bagatti Valsecchi, curated by Rossana Orlandi.

A big green chicken and a 18th century bed? Why not!

The museum is in it self mind blowing. When paired with modern design and art it is just, for a lack of a better word, bonkers. Rossana Orlandi is well known for her keen eye for talent, discovering and promoting design and art. She is somewhat of an icon in Milan after turning an abandoned factory into Spazio Rossana Orlandi. (A huge space that showcases emerging designers and also one of the hotspots Milan’s annual Salone del Mobile.)

Fragile Fingers on a Grand Piano

Orlandi's taste is definitely bold. And when curating she has no problem with pairing a big green plastic chicken (by Jaime Hayon) with an 18th century bed in gilded wrought iron. The Bagatti Valsecchi Museum really makes a dramatic backdrop to the exhibition. In 1880s the brothers Fausto and Giuseppe Bagatti Valsecchi started filling and decortating their home in Neo-Renaissance style, collecting paintings and decorative arts of the 15th and 16th centuries. In 1994 it was turned into a museum. The rooms are filled with incredibly detailed woodwork, magnificent art works and during this exhibition, modern furnitures and artworks.

Rossana Orlandi

This picture sums it up. Just look at the detailed wood carvings, the lush velvet flocked wallpaper and the anything but traditional chair by Nacho Carbonell. Definitely one of the highlights of Milan Design Week.


Traditionally analog and digitally innovative

Then we have the contrasts between traditional craftsmanship and technology. Both have their place at Milan Design Week. 


Milan Design Week Contrast Painting

A master porcelain artist from Japanese Arita painted traditional porcelain and ceramics products.

Milan Design Week Painted plates

And interactive light design. Do you feel that your coffee break is too analog? Spice it up by having tadpole-looking dots of light following your coffeecup around. (The market for this particular product may be small, but the idea is fun.)



Old ideas in new shapes

And then we have things like Table Skin, which is a contrast in it self. A product that looks like a traditional textil table cloth with detailed embroidery, but is actually a molded white rubber. And also, it does feel like actual skin. Designed by Design duo DeJongeKalff with the material as a starting point. Looking for alienation between material and form, while combining old forms with new techniques. Found at Droog/Rijksmuseum's showroom.


Skin Cloth Material


Salone del Mobile, or Milan Furniture Fair, is one of the largest furniture fair in the world. The exhibition is held in april and showcases the latest in furniture and design from all over the world. This is where you go to see new products in the design and interior business. And, of course, mingle with designers, stylists and other furniture savvy people.

The show is held in the FieraMilano complex. But the coinciding Milan Design Week is held i different areas of the city. In everything from small pop up exhibitions in garages to museums and elegant fashion houses like Missoni and Hermés.

All in all, a very busy week if you're interested in design and happen to be in town when the Milan Design Week takes place.