Li Edelkoort – Fetishism
Trend forecaster, Li Edelkoort is always at the cutting edge of where things are heading. Her interest in Fetishism however has been an ongoing subject for her over numerous books and exhibitions. This year at Lambrate her Fetishism exhibition involved audio-visual installations and a number of key works that have been featured in previous Edelkoort shows by the likes of Pepe Heykoop, Nacho Carbonell, Rodrigo Almeida and Femke Agema. The line between primitive customs, bondage and other fetishes is quite blurred. Edelkoort continues to explore our innate urge to be contained and embrace ritual.
Mindcraft14 – Ceramics and printing
Danish Mindcraft is a vehicle to promote the outstanding quality of Danish craft and design in all its forms. Funded by the Danish Arts Foundation, the exhibition was on show for the seventh year running in Milan – the fourth time in Lambrate. Each year it is a key destination for anyone wanting to discover new Danish talent. It is where I have first came across names such as Thomas Bentzen and Line Depping. This year was curated by Nina Tolstrup and included a wider range of craft/art than in previous years with only Depping’s beautiful ‘Elements’ dress rail presenting itself as ‘furniture’. As a study in design it was far reaching with delicate floral ceramics by Marianne Nielsen and headdress/heads by fashion designer, Nikoline Liv Andersen. One highly intriguing project called ‘Street Print’ by Anne Fabricus Møller, involved the contact printing of found objects onto a giant 10 metre fabric roll. Displayed with the real objects arranged in exactly the same position beside it, the before and after print process had an eerie feeling of loss despite all the bright colours.
rENs + Desso
My favourite location in Lambrate each year is the workshop space ‘Autofficina’ in Via Massimiano. This year one of the lucky groups to grab a space in this old garage were rENs (Dutch designers, Renee Mennen and Stefanie Keijstern) & Desso (a global carpets company). The collaboration presented an ingenious solution to the number of carpets and rugs left on the scrap heap of fashion each year. rENs studio revived out-of-fashion rugs with a simple mechanized dip-dye process. The red dye chosen overrides the original colour producing shades that are a blend of the original and the new red tones, resulting in a graduated look ranging from purple reds through browns to pure reds where the rug is white. The video below shows a film made by Niels Hoebers from StopMotionStudio.
Royal College of Art, the Hague
The Royal College of Art, The Hague, seems to relish exhibiting the incredibly varied work of its students in large open spaces. Like previous years, the installation is part theatre, part designed objects with students presenting their concepts in a variety of very interesting ways that are often more about the process and communication than a finished product. The video installation work of graphic design and photography graduate, David Joosten was a wonderful anecdote to the randomness of much of what was going on. He showed two film projects ‘Infinite Symmetry’ and ‘Vanishing Point’, involving a marriage of digital graphics and fashion. For ‘Vanishing Point’ he was inspired by the mathematical exactness of DaVinci’s Vetruvian Man. Of particular interest was Daniel Berio’s ‘Graffitizer’ – a wall-mounted machine that creates algorithmically generated drawings with black ink
Each year an unfortunate number of exciting concepts and prototypes are left to languish on the shelf as manufacturers decide that the concepts are too unusual or the process too difficult to put into production. Thankfully in late 2013 a new brand, Transnatural, was formed to champion products that fall between limited edition art pieces and fully-fledged production items. Now selling a small collection of designs from the ‘Gravity’ stool of Jólan van der Wiel to the colour changing ‘coral-like’ ‘Thermophores’ by Tim van Cromvoirt, the brand allows these highly acclaimed concepts to be purchased at fairly reasonable prices (in the hundreds not thousands of euros).
Zeita – 3+ system
Oskar Zeita came to fame for his highly originally inflated metal stools called ‘Plop’. Original released by the designer’s own label then by Hay for a period of time, the stools have spawned a number of similar idea’s using air filled metal envelopes. Zeita obviously has a thing for metal and is always rethinking ways in which it can be handled. I had seen his new ‘3+’ design last year at Edit by Design Junction during Milan Design Week, but this year the entire range was revealed at an exhibition called the Polish Job in the heart of Ventura Lambrate. The sheet steel material is perforated with large holes that actually add strength to the forms and enables the material to be used as tables, wall shelving and benches. The modular nature of the perforated material encourages customization.
Whether the particular examples that have been showcased here were the highlights of this year’s event is a matter of opinion but Ventura Lambrate 2014 was once again an overwhelming success. Part of the joy of the event is that each year reveals a slightly different collection of venues. This element of surprise helps to keep the event itself as fresh as the work presented by the highly talented exhibitors. With five successful years under their belt, founders Margriet Vollenberg and Margo Konings could be forgiven for taking it a little easy next time around but this isn’t in their nature. The duo are totally passionate about the event as a spring board for young designers and are constantly planning new ways to make the event better for visitors and exhibitors alike. I for one will be heading out to Lambrate again next year, secure in the knowledge that there will be a host of delightful surprises and a huge body of exciting new work.
Milan Design Week has been attacked by some of the design press of late. Much of what they have said about Salone Del Mobile and Tortona is true but the ongoing success of Venture Lambrate is helping to bring a freshness and excitement to the entire event. 2014 also saw two new design districts spring up (5 Vie and San Gregorio), so it seems MiIan may retain the title of ‘the mother of all design fairs’ for at least a few more years.