Asian brands, particularly Japanese, are no strangers to Milan Salone. From hi-tech companies like Sony, Panasonic, Lexus to local design establishments like Japan Creative and even Tokyo Design Week have all gathered once again at Milan to present their new and innovative ideas. Although most of them might not be furniture brands per se, design is still a common language here that most Salone visitors have and will happily oblige.
It was not surprising when Sony came up on top this year with an installation that's truly a great marriage between the imaginative and the practical application of both furniture and technology. On the other hand, furniture brands from China, India and Korea might sometimes be a rarity, but the effort that was put into each collection is always thoughtful and sometimes even gave the Italians a run for their money - so kudos to them and a round of applause for everyone!
Fresh off winning the "Best Playfulness" categories of the Milano Design Award 2018, Sony has come out on top with the new "Hidden Senses" exhibition. As the title suggested, the concept of the exhibition is to explore design, not as a matter of just lines and shapes, but a way to explore new innovative ways to introduce technology into everyday life.
As one journeys through each of the five case study rooms, the so-called "Hidden Senses" will be gradually revealed; from conceptual interaction into examples of contextual application. Each showcases different ways in which design is applied to technology, to interact with people, products and spaces and create a perceptual experience; from pure sound experiences to new ways of visualising information through everyday furniture and lighting. The final area brings all the aspects of the exhibition together, proposing a new and unique life space scenario. Our favourite is the picture frame that changes the resolution of its image solely according to the viewer's proximity to the picture.
A tape company might look out of place during Milan Salone, but HARU stuck-on design is no ordinary tape company. Simply put, HARU offers a kind of space designing tape that sticks and peels off easily. With a total of eight colour families, two pattern families, three different materials and four different widths, it can allow designers (and consumers alike) to express their creativity how they want. And in the case of the presentation at Ventura Centrale, SPREAD (a creative unit consisting of Hirokazu Kobayashi and Haruna Yamada) filled an unused industrial warehouse with colours to add life to the space and to influence people's senses and sensibilities. The result is a fun and total utilisation of the big space. Definitely a crowd pleaser.
The fact that this company has evolved from rattan sofa to the new range of stools, container basket, screens and even a baby cradle is truly an exciting moment. Entitled "the lightness of coreless beauty", each new design expressed, in their way, the full potential of working with rattan, combined with a series of other materials such as ceramics, metal and laminate, following in the Japanese tradition. Also, as the title suggests, the pieces in the collection are devoid of a core.
Founded by Hichiro Yamakawa in 1952 in a storage room in the backyard of their home in Tokyo Japan, the business was started to create jobs for Yamakawa's two sons who were both hearing-impaired but were very apt in using their hands. Weaving rattan seems like a no-brainer. And with the brand's growth to become one of the most renowned companies in Japan, its latest collection will hopefully be able to propel it to new heights (or to the outdoor arena).
For the last three years, Stellar Works has established its stronghold in the Tortona Design District. This year, with the help of creative directors Neri&Hu, the installation entitled "any/everyWHERE" played with the ideas of location, context, and place and explored how interior objects define how we live. Much like the brand's new imagery (photographed by Su Li), furniture by well-known designers such as Space Copenhagen and Yabu Pushalberg were placed anywhere and everywhere - on the street, within the alley, inside old buildings - all of which used Shanghai as the backdrop and are all proudly Made in Shanghai.
Founded by Japanese Yuichiro Hori in 2012, Stellar Works has truly lived up to its name as the first global design brand from Asia and will continue to inspire a renaissance in Asian aesthetics and to bring ideas together: East and West, heritage and modernity, craft and industry. Most notably, the new Industry collection by Neri&Hu, which are all stackable and suitable for everyday use in both residential and commercial spaces.
Only just debuted at Spazio Rossana Orlandi in 2015, Scarlet Splendour has been making strides in the global design world. Known for their eclectic yet opulent furniture, lighting and accessories, this year the brand has moved into the big leagues and exhibited in Hall 6 of Salone del Mobile.
Founded by siblings Ashish Bajoria and Suman Kanodia, the Kolkata-based brand works closely with internationally acclaimed designers such as Matteo Cibic and Nika Zupanc to bring luxe design to the world, through their eccentric collections which herald a blend of cultures. This year, their first collaboration with London-based Artefatto Design Studio resulted in the new and dreamy Snow White collection. With a total of eight pieces, the collection is crafted with the finest sheepskin and held by golden frames, giving it a gentle surrealism and a promise of luxury, beyond imagination.
The newest Asian debut in Milan, Korea based brand Mete has quite the ambition. Exihibited at Spazio Rossana Orlandi, Mete is founded by local design studio LVI and aims to bring diversity into the nation's (i.e. South Korea) high-end furniture market. "We believe that furniture designers from Korea and furniture craftsman should coexist and develop products that will revitalise the domestic furniture design industry.
Inspired by androgyny, Mete's debut collection launched 4 pieces of furniture: Paris Sofa by Anderssen & Voll, Lala Chair by Nika Zupanc, Cane Chair by TAF and Low hill table by LVI design - all of which expressed both masculine and feminine characteristics rather than focusing solely on beauty, to inspire and appeal to all. The latter, especially, is a table with a gently sloped surface, designed to reflect the true nature of our environment that is not perfect.
Next up: Designers Edition. Watch this space!
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