Kitchens, Kids and Kaleidoscopes at Milan 2016

WORDS Nadine Botha

Between the sea of countless chairs that typically characterise a visit to the world’s largest design festival, Milan Design Week, three trends spoke to VISI’s passions.

Smart Stone Kitchens

Kitchens were king in Milan this year, not least because of the biennial EuroCucina exhibition at the Salone del Mobile, where the undeniable star of the show was a sink that disappears when not in use. The sink was part of the Tuler responsive kitchen by Offmat, an experimental kitchen project of Italian design studio Marmo Arredo, which also featured concealed stovetops. Indeed, more than just finishes or lifestyles, the new kitchen was barely visible – what Miele’s conceptual installation named the Invisible Kitchen.

Powered by digital technologies, projection mapping and gestural controls, the result is sculptural forms free from messy details and buttons. Rebooting the kitchen with the aid of Caesarstone, Tom Dixon said that he wanted to get away from a “series of equipment” arranged to “hug the walls”. The result is four kitchens based on sculptural forms and the elements – water, air, earth and fire. Using cutting-edge equipment from Electrolux, he also introduced newfangled means of cooking: blasting, vacuuming and large-scale steaming.

Italian food designers Arabeschi di Latte interpreted these modes into black pancakes, freshly dehydrated fruit and roots and aromatic stock with frozen leaves. Similarly peculiar food was served at Lexus’s Anticipation installation. Chef Yoji Tokuyoshi served an aperitif of fish broth, agar agar and mandarin, as well as a nasturtium leaf with a spot of prune, shiso leaves and blueberry relish. Miele too served sweet potato ice cream – the recipe for which can be found here.

Going just beyond the kitchen, the Sapienstone Smart Slab Table by Reed Kram and Clemens Weisshaar for Iris Ceramica includes facilities to heat and cool food.

Kids Design Is Growing

From Kartell to Marcel Wanders for Cybex, design for kids and babes made a big splash, not to mention at least three rocking horses – by Front for Gebrüder Thonet Vienna, Nendo for Kartell and Alvin Tjitrowirjo from Indonesia.

“What a challenge to design a collection for babies, so we thought maybe we should design it for parents,” said Wanders about the Cybex range of embroidered rockers, high chairs, bouncers and toys inspired by his iconic Monster chair. “Going from a couple to a family is already quite a lifestyle change, so maybe you don’t have to change your whole apartment.”

Kartell’s easy-to-wipe plastic is a natural fit for children’s furniture, and it has explored this territory tentatively before. This year however it launched a complete kids collection, including a building block table and series of racing cars (which we featured as a recent Pick of the Week).

Kaleidoscopic Colours

The hue of this year was undoubtedly every shade of pastel pink – pretty on the money for Pantone’s Rose Quartz Colour of the Year. Vitra’s Soft Modular Sofa showed how to snuggle into the colour, while Formafantasma showed that it works just as well in hard-edged minimalism at the Lexus Anticipation exhibition.

What the show-wide palettes of dirty pastels really achieved however was to make the unapologetically rich velvety reds and kaleidoscopic geometric patterns pop out even more. On the red front, Fabio Novembre showed a round leather-clad interior in the Rooms: Novel Living Concepts exhibition at the Triennale Museum, while the Mindcraft exhibition of Danish design spun in a crimson set of turning decks.

A celebration of Ron Arad by Moroso and Javier Mariscal, Spring to Mind included an installation of red chairs in a mirror room. Mirrors, red and geometrics also featured in the Scarlet Splendour collection at Rossana Orlandi, with its striking vanity table. Also at Orlandi, KIGI from Japan showed its Mirror Cup and Saucer.

Patricia Urquiola teamed the salmon and red in her exquisite stained glass collaboration with Federico Pepe for Spazio Pontaccio – Credenza. In her debut as creative director for Cassina, Urquiola further showed her finesse for colours and patterns.

The result of 10 years of research by Hella Jongerius, the Vitra Colour and Material Library drew the crowds. Besides the swatches, an installation of furniture turned into wheels, dropped jaws.

To find out more about this year’s Milan Design Week, visit Browse the gallery above to view some of our favourites.