Our picks from Milan Design Week 2017

22 April Apr 2017
The dust is still settling after Milan Design Week took over our city. Our team has been busy touring the shows – we asked a few to share their top picks, thoughts and inspirations.

Yesenia Rivera, Senior Graphic Designer

What were the 1-3 most interesting things you saw last week?
Casa Gifu, Atelier Oï’s beautiful Origami spaces and
Panasonic. I appreciate the attempt to unite crafts with technology, but at the same time I did not see anything really new. Love the sound containers!

Which themes, trends, topics or conversations did you notice that are emerging?
The predominant trend seems to be the mix of craft and technology.

How was this year's design week different from the previous ones?
As I did not see much, my opinion is fairly relative, but overall I saw “little design”
and many things that were not new.

Alice Bonaiti, Experiential Spaces Designer

What were the 1-3 most interesting things you saw last week?

Spazio Krizia by Formafantasma.

Poetry becomes light, absolutely loved it! These guys are really great. Maybe too much light to display a lighting installation properly, but installations themselves were really interesting

Panasonic. I loved the second space with this beautiful surprise effect of the long table hidden in the dark. Japanese design always very inspiring and elegant. The space itself was amazing with this beautiful brick barrel vault

#TVClerici
This student project by a Dutch school was an ironic and very funny parody of Salone icons like youtubers, designers not designers, use of hash tags… I’m always so surprised to see how people take all this so very seriously – we are not saving the world, after all. I was happy to see this ironic approach so skilfully done.

IKEA in Lambrate
I always appreciate Ikea’s presence at Salone, they are doing great collaborations with young designers. At the end of the day this is the real industrial design designed for all with some serious production research.

Which themes, trends, topics or conversations did you notice that are emerging?
I noticed a very high presence of Japanese design, their approach is always interesting. There were not many Italian designers present, which was a bit depressing. Dutch design and Dutch companies in general keep showing up, too. They have a great experimental approach that probably comes from the way design is taught in schools there. We have a lot to learn!

How was this year's design week different from the previous ones?
I didn’t see a lot of exciting things, there was a very poor presence of design per se. In general the event is becoming more and more a mass event for the general public looking a drink – in terms of design and innovation, it’s not that exciting.

Christopher Schütte, Director of Experiential Spaces

What were the 1-3 most interesting things you saw last week?

YET by Lexus

With the abundance of stimulation during design week, Lexus offers us a level of abstraction that requires us to stop in our tracks for reflection. As sentient beings exploring our world, materials and ceaseless emerging technologies, how do the past and future relate. The design theme this year, ‘YET’ (in simple terms ‘old yet new’), encapsulates at the zeitgeist of the moment. Last year at MDW, many projects alluded to nostalgia and optical illusions in our search to find our locus. This year the vision matures by connecting our longing for the past to future inevitability of new possibilities to infuse motion, light and humanity into our design work and experiences.

Electronics Meets Crafts by Panasonic

This exhibit again, juxtaposing old and new, humanizes technology and tells us a story about a pleasurable interaction with technologies, craftsmanship and simplicity. Our senses are heightened through a multi-sensorial welcome. We venture in to Panasonic’s space where our senses awaken and we are prepared and open to next experiences in the brand narrative. The second step offers us an intimate ambiance to experience the magic of invisible technologies at the service of tactile and more intimate sensorial experiences giving rise to a new form and positive feel for an imaginative future.

Mix It Up by Pepsico

Mix It Up shows us what is means to be a brand on stage 24/7 and gives us a glimpse of how pop brands will continually strive to stay relevant and earn the right to be part of a conversation among consumers. Brands are defining identity and Pepsico did not disappoint with a series of unique brands that take innovation from task-based and to the world of experiences. Pepsico is searching for the WHY in the world of brandspace and what brands mean for society. Their new premium brand of water, Life WTR, reflects to a movement of millennials toward healthier choices and their desire to be seen with a bottle of water to reflect lifestyle. The company is also using data-driven insights from their Spire machines to build brands like ‘Lemon Lemon’ that reflect preferences on college campuses in the USA – just to highlight a couple examples.

(ED. we collaborated with Pepsico on the project, read more here)

How was this year's design week different from the previous ones?
It is not what is different but what is more deeply the same that is interesting – the future is crystalizing before us. Ideas are everywhere, but the most locally relevant and meaningful are standing out. Digital layers and technology are mostly invisible or embedded into behavior and our sensorial interactions – ‘phygital’ has faded into the past. Lastly, brand give us complexity for free – brand experiences are creating a direct path to consumer’s hearts and minds to simplify our choices and mentoring us through constant change.