make your fridays matter with a well-read weekend


Tools & Crafts celebrates traditional expertise at Milan Design Week 2023

Located at Fondazione Riccardo Catella, the exhibition is part of the Isola Design District and a celebration of heritage, technique and technology.

by Pooja Suresh HollannavarPublished on : Apr 19, 2023

Art and technology have had many fortuitous meetings in the past, and Milan Design Week is the perfect setting to encounter newer iterations of this. Yet, every new intersection of the two doesn't fail to give us something new. Tools & Crafts, at Fondazione Riccardo Catella in Milan, Italy, is yet another example of this. The design exhibition, which is part of the Isola Design District, is geared towards promoting artisans and designers who braid innovative and experimental techniques with traditional expertise to create collectable design pieces. Designers experiment with a wide variety of skills and methods from the application of AI coding and 3D printing to glass blowing, casting and moulding techniques. Each of the pieces on display captures the essence of new and modern design sensibilities brought on when traditional practices, that have been in use for centuries, are built upon by new generation designers. With 22 participating artists, the pieces on display range from examples of ceramic and textile design to handmade mirrors and furniture designs.

Exhibition view of Tools & Crafts at the Isola Design Festival 2023 | Isola design district | Milan Design Week 2023 | STIRworld
Exhibition view of Tools & Crafts at the Isola Design Festival 2023 Image: Anwyn Howarth

Manchester-based textile studio Woven Memories specialises in personalised handwoven fashion and homeware accessories. For the Isola Design Festival, designer Gina Nadal is presenting hand woven cushions, its latest homeware accessory. The designs use digital coding to integrate texts into the design of the weave itself, to create pieces of memory. 

Woven Memories at Isola Design Festival at Milan design week 2023 | Isola Design District | Milan Design Week 2023 | STIRworld
Woven Memories at Isola Design Festival at Milan Design Week 2023 Image: LauraLaura Studio

In contrast to the functional pieces of memory by Woven Memories, Leipzig-based OODD Studio presents The Landmark series. This is a collection of three-dimensional objects made with silk organza that can, but does not have to, fulfil the requirements of a functional vessel. Clearly inspired by contemporary architecture, the pieces are reflective of elements of architectural structures translated into colourful filigree art objects. The series is in line with the OODD's affinity to colour and further explores the potential for textile craftsmanship through the reinterpretation of traditional techniques in a contemporary context.

Landmark by OODD Studio | Isola Design District | Milan Design Week 2023 | STIRworld
Landmark by OODD Studio Image: Courtesy of OODD Studio

A complete departure from the kaleidoscopic celebration of colour by OODD Studio, Naomi Remijn uses largely white textile in her 0118 lighting object collection, to bring warm luxury to interiors. The pieces fashioned out of 100 per cent non-flammable wool also lend acoustic support to spaces in addition to serving their functional and aesthetic needs.

0118 by Naomi Remijn | Isola Design District | Milan Design Week 2023 | STIRworld
0118 by Naomi Remijn Image: Naomi Remijn

Representing niche maker cultures is Lebanese-Armenian designer Nareg Krikorian. In collaboration with a highly skilled team of artisans in Lebanon, Krikorian creates unique handmade pieces that are bold, luxurious, and teetering on the edge of seduction. The exaggerated details of pieces with expert leather craftsmanship honour the processes and intricacies of making

Tools & Craft at the Isola Design Festival 2023 | Isola Design District | Milan Design Week 2023 | STIRworld
Gaar by Nareg Krikorian Image: Nareg Krikorian

Product designer Haeun Kim uses artificial intelligence to her advantage. Instead of being fearful of technology taking over skilled design work, she uses AI to enhance her creative ability and the quality of her designs. Her experiments with the growing technology linked to artificial intelligence gives her the freedom to ask more questions and find new opportunities to expand traditional processes of making. 

Bowl Vase by Haeun Kim | Isola design district | Milan design week 2023 | Stirworld
Bowl Vase by Haeun Kim Image: Haeun Kim

Kick Veldman, in an ultimate gesture to support sustainability, creates mirrors from waste aluminium and asks people to look at their reflections in the trash they have produced. Asking the question, "What is the true cost of reflection?” Casting Mirrors is a collection of achingly beautiful pieces that serve a physical and transcendent purpose all at once.

CASTING MIRRORS by Kick Veldman | Isola design district | Milan design week 2023 | Stirworld
Casting Mirrors by Kick Veldman Image: Kick Veldman

As Kick plays with nature and the idea of sustainability, Caspar Fisher plays with traditional ideas of a tripod and flips it on its head to create a stool called Treudd. The sustainably made multipurpose stool is unusual as it feels just at home in mobile spaces as it does in a house. Its true genius, however, lies in its material choice. Made with plywood, Treudd is a study of the possibility of producing complex shapes with more sustainable materials.

TREUDD by Caspar Fisher | Isola design district | Milan design week 2023 | Stirworld
Treudd by Caspar Fisher Image: Caspar Fisher

Italian artist and furniture designer Alice Crepaldi is another standout exhibitor. Drawing inspiration from her own body, whose forms and movements she is driven to capture in her work, Crepaldi creates unique pieces that often combine metal with jewel-toned glass. Her pieces use traditional techniques of Murano glassmaking but echo contemporary forms to build almost jewel-like pieces.

Miss Joshua by Alice Crepaldi | Isola design district | Milan design week 2023 | Stirworld
Miss Joshua by Alice Crepaldi Image: Caspar Fisher

The selection, craft, and skill of artisans highlighted in the exhibition transcend genre, material, and geography, making it one of the more eclectic and interesting exhibits of Milan Design Week 2023. Though expertly put together, the exhibition encouraging young designers to showcase innovation through their unique processes is not limited to being a static event. It will be supported by live performances by a select few exhibitors.

Tools & Craft at the Isola Design Festival 2023 | Isola design district | Milan design week 2023 | Stirworld
Detailed view of the objects on display at the exhibition Image: Anwyn Howarth

The exhibition is made possible by the contribution of Regione Lombardia, and it is supported by The Netherlands consulate-general in Milan and Xpose Forpress with the set-up being realised in collaboration with Fairf providing its bio-based paint.

STIR’s coverage of Milan Design Week 2023 showcases the best exhibitions, studios, designers, installations, brands, and special projects to look out for. Explore Euroluce 2023 and all the design districts—5Vie Art and Design, Brera Design District, Fuorisalone, Isola Design District, Tortona District, and Milano Design District—with us.

What do you think?

About Author


see more articles

make your fridays matter

This site uses cookies to offer you an improved and personalised experience. If you continue to browse, we will assume your consent for the same.