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Salone del Mobile

By Gudy Herder  – 

4 Top Installations - Salone del Mobile 2016, Milan
If you haven't visited the most important Interior Design Show named Salone del Mobile (Milan),
let me give you a short sum-up of what to expect if you decide next year to go for a probably most
inspiring visit.

Obviously, there is the fairground with more than 20 pavillions, hundreds of exhibitors and a
jaw-dropping offer of furniture, accessories and lighting  design.

But my favorite part takes place in different districts all over Milan these days where young
designers and brands showcase their proposals in hangars, backyards and abondoned offices.
The vibe is fresh, innovative and often rather unconventional.

And then you find installations allover the city, too. Palaces and cloistered courtyards open to
the public just for a few days whre the environment is as important as the design objects exhibited.


I am a huge fan of Japanese design studio Nendo ( and try to never miss their proposals.
This year, Nendo came up with a brilliant concept rooted in Japanese culture.

Manga is a means of expression with a high degree of flatness and abstraction, and which is
composed of a series of lines. We could say that manga comics have been part of Japanese culture
since the Edo period (1603-1868 A.D.).

The installation of 50 Manga Chairs is the result of adapting the strong symbolic nature of manga
comics to furniture design. Manga consist of a series of frames on a single sheet of paper that
creates a sequence. Similarly, 50 standard chairs are lined up in a grid, each one conjures up a sense
of story, and each with a design element from manga.


For example, a “speech bubble” or “effect line” are added to visualize sound or action. Or emotional
symbols from manga, like “sweat” or “tears”, are formed so that a sense of story and character can be felt.
With the abstraction of manga comics in mind, physical aspects such as colour and texture are intentionally
avoided as much as possible. Instead, a complete mirror finish is opted for, which generates new spatial
layers as the mirror surface reflects the real world (a fantastic blue sky here), just like manga does.


The University has been showcasing three different installations:

NBejing based studio MAD Architects ( created a translucent installation
in the courtyard of Milan's University. The installation is a part of the “Open Borders” exhibition,
curated by the Italian magazine Interni ( MAD’s contribution,
entitled “Invisible Border”, alters the perception of space.

MAD Architects

“Borders are usually seen as something closed and unapproachable but I think it’s interesting to
make borders attractive, dynamic and engaging. So we decided to play with the border between the
historical loggias and the garden in front of it, and design a transition in-between them.

Our installation blurs the boundaries between the traditional and the contemporary. You see the
difference in each end, but the transition is very organic. It’s like we open up a conversation between
the past and the present.” - Says Ma Yansong founder and principal architect of MAD Architect.

The coloured tower installation is a cylindrical volume, 4.5 meters in diameter and 12 meters high,
composed by 336 LED panels in sequence showing different colour spectrums that operate as an
interactive canvas for architectural graphics that build up second by second. The images broadcast
include drawings by the architects Sergei Tchoban and Sergey Kuznetsov.

Project by Sergei Tschoban | Sergye Kuznetsov | Agniya Sterlikova

The installation allows visitors to design other towers, using tablets and styluses placed in the four
corners of the courtyard. The structure is thus transformed from an abstract cylinder into a collective
drawing workshop, promoting a sort of shared creativity, again, without borders.


For the Milan Design week 2016 (which is just another wording for what is going on in the city) ,
London-based and Israeli-born designers Raw Edges ( collaborated
with 5VIE ( to create “Herringbones

This was an eye-catching exploration of wood, coloured dye, and herringbone motifs, all while
putting visitors in the position of design themself a few planks.

They were invited to dye pine planks by dipping them in buckets of coloured dye with different
pigement concentration, and then arrange them into beautiful patterns in a group design experience.

Raw Edges


One of the anual highlights is always visiting the Marni showroom and get inspired by the colorful
propsals they always gift the visitor with.

This year the they have been honored Cumbia, an ancient Colombian dance that arose from a blend of
diverse rhythms and cultures.

Marni has put its own take on it, customising the traditional full circular skirts worn by Cumbia
dancers and the knotted scarves the men wear around their neck.


You can see their dance preformance here:

Insertar este video:

There have been many more installations throughout the city, and I will soon write about some more
highlights of the Salone 2016.

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