Australians in Milan Part 1

The Daikin Fabrica ‘FU HA’ installation in Foro Bonaparte, Brera. Photo David Harrison

Milan Design Week 2015 saw a number of Australian designers exhibiting at various events from stands at SaloneSatellite, Euroluce at the fairgrounds in Rho to presentations at the edgier Ventura Lambrate and two Fabrica installations at Brera and San Babila.

Australians had travelled half way round the globe to gain the international exposure essential to a designer’s career. I was delighted to discover that an Australian designer would be part of the Fabrica line-up to help launch Airbnb’s Housewarming project set in Palazzo Crespi. Designers including the Australian Thomas Fethers, created objects, games and craft pursuits to illustrate the concept of welcoming a visitor into a home.

Handmade paper trays by Giorgia Zanellato on show at the Airbnb with Fabrica Housewarming project at Palazzo Crespi

Handmade paper trays by Giorgia Zanellato on show at the Airbnb with Fabrica Housewarming project at Palazzo Crespi

Later I discovered while visiting the excellent FU HA installation created by Fabrica for Daikin, that along with Fethers there were two more Australian designers (Aaron Gillett and Elise Santangelo) and one editorial writer, Livia Albeck Ripka in the ranks.

The Daikin Fabrica ‘FU HA’ installation in Foro Bonaparte, Brera. Photo David Harrison

The Daikin Fabrica ‘FU HA’ installation in Foro Bonaparte, Brera. Photo David Harrison

Currently based in Copenhagen, Melbourne designer Nikolai Kotlarczyk, studio CZYK, showed new work at Ventura Lambrate sharing the vast hall on Via Privata Oslavia with young designers from all over Europe. Featured were his ‘Porto’ lathe-turned cork pendant lights and ‘Grain’ side tables. “It was fantastic to meet a great bunch of designers at similar stages of their careers to me, with the same goals and struggles”. It can be tricky to find the right venue in big cities like Milan and Kotlarczyk conceeds he could have spent more time researching. “While I’ve been to many international fairs, this was the first time I actively participated by showing my work and even though Milan has the biggest scope for young designers, the sheer amount of content can make it hard to stand out”.

‘Porto’ cork pendant lights with LED fitting produced by Knastenlos for CZYK

‘Porto’ cork pendant lights with LED fitting produced by Knastenlos for CZYK

Kotlarczyk will be exhibiting as part of Paris Design Week in September with Danish collective Holdbar and is also interested in trying the Stockholm Furniture Fair.

Glen Baghurst’s two new chair designs on show at Venture Lambrate

Glen Baghurst’s two new chair designs on show at Venture Lambrate

Glen Baghurst spends most of his time in Malmo, Sweden. Having studied science and completing a Masters of Industrial Design, he is currently working as a freelance designer and assistant to Swedish designer Mats Theselius. This was the first time Baghurst has shown in Milan and by a quirk of fate ended up right next to CZYK in Ventura Lambrate. In February Baghurst was part of the Greenhouse at the Stockholm Furniture Fair and his work received some high calibre press coverage from online publications Dezeen, Wallpaper and Sight Unseen and influential magazines, AD Germany and Italian Elle decor. His designs attracted lots of attention in Milan for the uniqueness of chair typologies.

Glen Baghurst’s cement tiles can enclose an area or open it up

Glen Baghurst’s cement tiles can enclose an area or open it up

Having just returned to Malmo after showing at a curated exhibition called Fiera Edit as part of the May Design Series in London, Baghurst admits that exhibiting work multiple times per year is pretty gruelling but feels that it is a necessary part of developing a designer’s career. “I will continue the combination of Stockholm, Milan and London for the foreseeable future as each event offers different advantages…but because a lot of people have started to look to the north for design influence, the Stockholm Furniture Fair will be the most important in that group”.

One of the biggest names in Australian furniture and interior design is Alexander Lotersztain. He heads his own successful label Derlot and has founded many other projects and brands including Tasmanian furniture company one/third and the Queensland design platform Quench Collective.

The pivoting gold plated version of the QTZ armchair

The pivoting gold plated version of the QTZ armchair

Lotersztain has shown at the Milan Furniture Fair four times in the last 12 years. This year’s show was to increase awareness of his QTZ limited tessellated metal range. “QTZ was the main reason for exhibiting this year but Milan is a great opportunity to meet with old and new clients, international media and designers and basically get an idea of what’s going on in the design world in general”. The big news after Milan was that QTZ Limited will now be exclusively represented by Rossana Orlandi, the famous Milan design gallery responsible for launching designers like Maarten Baas and Nika Zupanc.

Lotersztain will be showing with Quench Collective in Tokyo in October and taking the Derlot Editions brand to the NEOcon Fair in Chicago in mid 2016. Lotersztain believes exhibiting internationally is invaluable. ”I’ve shown in Tokyo, New York, LA, Moscow and Paris over the years and you always learn something new, come up with a new approach, or a new idea…it’s very energizing and totally worthwhile”.

Melbourne-based designer Ash Allen showed his unique ‘Dollop’ ceramic pendant light at DIN 2015 in the Ventura Lambrate district. Allen found it pays to research before committing to exhibiting as the standard varied greatly in Via Massimiano. Nonetheless the experience was beneficial and  the ‘Dollop’ light was exposed to potential sellers worldwide. He reported   “… I sold all the lights I had on display which helped pay for my trip and meant I didn’t have to fret about their breakage on the way home”.

Ash Allen’s ‘Dollop’ ceramic pendant light. Photo: Jeremy Dillon

Ash Allen’s ‘Dollop’ ceramic pendant light. Photo: Jeremy Dillon

Allen has also been part of other international events showing at London Design Week in 2012 and 2013 and exhibiting in New York in 2014. “Milan is mindboggling compared to those two shows in terms of numbers but it is also the way the whole city is involved. At ICFF (& Wanted Design) in New York I’d be surprised if any locals outside the furniture/lighting industry even knew it was on”. He is thinking about future exhibitions and is tossing up between Stockholm next February and Tokyo in October.

This post continues in Australians in Milan Part 2.