Started 14 years ago by Marva Griffin, Satellite, part of Milan’s famous Salon Internazionale del Mobile has grown from just 55 stands and 101 designers in it’s first year to one of the world’s most important platforms for young furniture and lighting designers. In 2012 Satellite included 170 regular stands, 750 designers and 17 design schools. To celebrate 15 years of SaloneSatellite, 15 larger stands presented the work of past Satellite designers who have have gone on to make a large impact on the world design stage – designers such as Big Game, Staffan Holm, Postfossil, Nika Zupanc and Studio Juju. To keep a fresh new mix of designers each year, the applicants must be under 35 years of age, and can only exhibit at Satellite a maximum of three times.
After undergoing a rigorous selection process judged by an international panel, students, recent graduates and emerging design studios are offered spaces in a section of Hall 22/24 at the Rho fairgrounds during the week of Salone Internazionale del Mobile. Those successful hope that they will either receive editorial mentions from one of the nearly 6000 journalists that visit the fair these days or to cultivate interest in their work by one of the exhibiting or visiting manufacturers. Right from the outset many prototypes seen at one year’s Satellite have been turned into products the following year by companies who can discover highly resolved ideas and groundbreaking concepts from little known designers. In recent years companies such as Swedese, Karl Andersson & Sönor, Cappellini and Ligne Roset have sourced a number of their new releases directly from work originally
shown at Satellite.
This year, one of the most interesting groups showing were Pinwu a design group based in Hangzhou, China, whose use of traditional Chinese craftsmanship and organic materials came as a refreshing antidote to the slick mass production emphasis of many at the Milan fair. Their installation, ‘From Yuhang’, won the coveted Design Report Satellite Award.
The beautiful collection of tables, chairs and lamps made from bamboo paper, porcelain and oak exhibited a quiet, simple approach to materials and form. Despite their range of nationalities (Zhang Lei from China, Christoph John from Germany and Jovana Bogdanovic from Serbia) the collection maintained a strong Chinese identity. Based in Zhejiang province in eastern China, a little south of Shanghai, the members of Pinwu all graduated from European design academies (Zhang and Christoph from Domus Academy in Milan and Jovana from Belgrade University) Lei established Innovo studio in 2004 and the group attended Salone Satellite twice under this name before changing their name to Pinwu in 2012. Yuhang is situated in the center of Zheijiang province famous for it’s traditional craft. There is paper umbrella production in Pingyao, bamboo weaving in Baizhang and bamboo matt production in Penggong. There are also several centers of traditional pottery and rice and bamboo paper production in Zhejiang province and in neighbouring Anhui and Jiangxi provinces. With all of this at their disposal, Pinwu have chosen to harness these traditional materials and techniques but apply a modern, minimalist aesthetic.
Another stand out of SaloneSatellite 2012 was Bao-Nghi Droste, a German designer whose lean use of materials creates a fine modern interpretation of the classic Nordic aesthetic. Droste studied Industrial Design at Darmstadt’s University of Applied Sciences, graduating in 2001. While studying, Droste achieved valuable work experience at the offices of Werner Aisslinger in Berlin and Hannes Wettstein in Zurich.
‘Breeze’ LED lamps’ dynamic appearance comes from a trapezoidal shaped head and the unusual ‘drunken’ stem angle.The occasional ‘Buddy’ tables are spun in aluminium and ash while ‘Cart’ is an elegant re-interpretation of the classic tea trolley.
Portuguese designer Rui Alves presented a large body of highly crafted new work for SaloneSatellite 2012 in contrast to his much quirkier 2011 furniture collection inspired by the world’s greatest bicycle races; the Tour de France, Giro d’Italia and Vuelta a Espana.
Since his childhood, Rui has been surrounded by tools and materials with both his father and grandfather being cabinetmakers. Rui studied industrial design at IADE (Instituto de Artes Visuais, Design e Marketing) in Lisbon. Shortly after graduating in 2001, he set up his
studio in his hometown of Paços de Ferreira. Alves named it MY OWN SUPER STUDIO in a tongue in cheek reference to Guilio Cappellini’s famous Superstudio Piu building in Milan. His obsessive attention to detail and highly original approach to form leads to pieces that have immense personality but which are also beautifully executed.
‘Mind the Gap’ tables. These lightweight, circular occasional tables feature a small but surprising top detail – an small gap between the base and the rim. ‘Nose’ stool incorporates the Portuguese material of choice - agglomerated cork to add comfort to the seat and leg tips and to encourage the sitter to go bare foot. The Alvares ‘AA’ chair is a dining chair in solid ash that uses intriguing joins as part of an open A framed base.
Revealing something of an obsession for precise connections and delicate balance, Swedish designer, Jonas Forsman presented three new articulated furniture and lighting prototypes at this year’s Satellite. All three use the barest minimum of materials to achieve the designer’s required smooth, refined movement.
Originally trained as a civil engineer Forsman went on to study furniture design at Steneby School of Design and Craft (part of Gothenburg University). His folding ‘Arc’ chair, has a unique hinge mechanism that allows the wooden back rest and seat to fold simultaneously. This in turn means that the curved backrest (which gives the chair it’s comfort) still folds flat for storage. The ‘Parasol’ lamp features an ingenious magnetically connected shade that allows it to reflect light at all manner of different angles thanks to the small ball shaped magnet. In the process Forsman has created the jaunty look of a precariously positioned hat. While the overall concept pays homage to George Nelson’s classic 1950’s ‘Half Nelson’ lamp, the functionality and delicacy of appearance is far superior. The light source is a ring of LED’s which produces an even, soft spread of light.
Forsman’s ‘Up’ counterbalanced desk lamp (shown above in red) has an equally perfect sense of balance. The fine timber arms are held in position by a cord that is held under tension by a small spring concealed in the base. The arm can be positioned easily with just the slightest touch and positioned virtually vertical through to horizontal. The light’s tubular head can rotate freely in any direction due to the same magnetic ball joint used in the ‘Parasol’. With lights in production by innovative lighting manufacturer Zero and a folding table for Bla Station, Forsman’s name is becoming synonymous with products that have a reliance on movement.
Elisabeth Florstedt, a Berlin based designer, has been working on freelance projects since graduating from the University of Arts Berlin (UdK) in 2010. She showed at Satellite for the first time this year as part of a group of talented young German designers including Siren Elise Wilhelmsen and Stephanie Jasny.
While her highly original dining table cum desk based on a concertina called ‘Second Telling’ is her newest piece, her plywood ‘Jitter’ stools were the stand out for their utter simplicity. Designed some years ago the stools have never been shown to the public until this year. Made from very fine (5mm) plywood, the material is ‘wound’ in a way that gives remarkable strength. The stools stack beautifully, one inside the other and are extremely lightweight due to the thinness of the material. Florstedt has been using them in her own kitchen for several years without any splits or de-laminations and is convinced of the structural integrity of the design. Initially the stool exhibits quite a disconcerting amount of movement under a person’s body weight, but this rapidly becomes one of the stool’s features as sitting on it’s gently rocking form is remarkably comfortable.