'Do you speak Design?' Salone del Mobile Milano 2023 to probe in its renewed edition
by Jincy IypeFeb 17, 2023
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by Jincy IypePublished on : Apr 17, 2023 Updated on : May 01, 2023
The creative industries of architecture and design go beyond just buildings, objects and spaces. They are also about the influx, exchange and critiquing of ideas, discussions and discourse. Conversations and communication play pivotal roles in shaping and furthering their creative landscape, driving innovation and pushing boundaries for a better, more inclusive world.
The acclaimed Euroluce lighting biennial returned at the now concluded Salone del Mobile.Milano 2023 in Italy, with a packed palimpsest of Talks, focusing on innovations in lighting and sustainability in design, featuring renowned figures from the contemporary lighting design scene, as well as global architecture, and design . The Talks programme commenced within the main 'Aurore' arena conceived by Formafantasma, and was curated by Annalisa Rosso, design curator, former editor-in-chief of Icon Design monthly magazine (Mondadori), and in charge of Domus web, and current editorial director of Salone del Mobile.Milano.
"The fresh round of Talks provides an opportunity for crosscutting insight into how planning, design and architecture can embrace the present and imagine the future, open up new avenues, come up with solutions and explore the realms of the 'possible', triggering reflection and imagination,” shares Salone del Mobile.Milano. Rosso has also previously collaborated with some of the most relevant global design magazines including Wallpaper*, Casa Vogue Brasil, and Elle Décor for their international editions.
The eminent list of speakers included Japanese architect Shigeru Ban, Japanese designer Nao Tamura, Norwegian architects and designers Kjetil Trædal Thorsen and Marius Myking of Snøhetta, and Andrea D'Antrassi, Associate Partner of MAD Architects, who engaged in insightful conversations with international journalists such as Yoko Choy, China Editor, Wallpaper*, Felix Burrichter, Creative Director of PIN–UP, freelance journalist, design critic and creative strategy consultant Anne-France Berthelon, along with Amit Gupta, Founder and Editor-in-Chief, STIR and Samta Nadeem, Curatorial Director, STIR.
“The focus of the four conversations (was) on sustainability and the centrality of human beings in contemporary design, along with the importance of light—from natural to artificial light to solutions for different spaces and functions—which, with the latest technological innovations, has the ability to improve our future lives,” elaborated Salone.
Urging and challenging the industry to do better, Shigeru Ban, renowned for his architectural contributions to disaster relief, and winner of 2014 Pritzker Architecture Prize, kicked off the much-admired Talks programme, concentrating on his social and environmental commitment that also extends to reflection on the use of light in design. The talk titled "Balancing Architectural Works and Social Contributions' dove into his almost five decades of career, which has garnered a motif of contextual, temporary architecture and the use of natural materials, producing structures made of wood, bamboo, cardboard, paper, shipping containers, and other recyclable, or upcyclable modes and materials, and practising architecture that can respond to the needs of the most vulnerable.
Reflecting on the permanence and impermanence of creation, Ban also expounded on the potential use of wood in architecture, disaster relief activities using building technology, and efforts toward building a collective future through architecture, in tandem with reflecting on the use of light in design. Primarily, he cited disappointment in the vocation and industry of architecture that mainly caters to privileged clients that exercise wealth and power to build their ideas into existence, and emphasised the role of architects when it comes to disaster relief and sustainability at large. In an exclusive interview with STIR, Ban shared his thoughts on the ‘it’ word of the industry—sustainability—and how, for him, it simply translated into something as not wasting material.
First of all, I don’t understand the definition of sustainability—it has just become a very commercial word. I don’t know what is sustainable or what is not. I just don’t want to waste materials. It is as simple as that. I am not talking about philosophical sustainability; I simply try to minimise waste. – Shigeru Ban
With design helping her express herself, Tamura spoke at length about 'Interconnection,' the running theme colouring her practice as well as her overall experience in the product design sector. Focusing on the emotional as well as the functional aspects of lighting design, the former SaloneSatellite debutante and winner of the first SaloneSatellite Award, Tamura is known to blend poetry, abstraction, and innovative technologies in her subtle, quietly powerful designs. Her discussion moderated by Felix Burrichter, Creative Director of PIN–UP magazine, demonstrated how design remains a method and catalyst of communication, and how it drives the creative process towards a better, more sustainable future, urged her audience to ponder upon a question that has remained germane on everyone’s minds—'do we really need a fair anymore?'
I have a lot to learn from younger generations and young designers. I sometimes hesitate to make something new as it adds yet another thing to this planet, which is why we have to think about why we are making it, how are we making it, and where it ultimately goes. – Nao Tamura
According to her, lighting is closely bound to technology, the onset and evolution of which made leaps and bounds towards smarter, better fixtures and products that emote and adjust to their users. “Technology opened up so many creative opportunities—compared to 20 years ago, we are now able to do so much,” she relayed in her talk. Talking about sustainability, she confessed how there is not one straightforward, single answer or solution to it, but how it can be tackled together—"Everybody talks about sustainability, it’s a big topic. I don’t think there’s one simple answer to it. But together, we can seek which path and direction to take—you have a choice to buy or not to buy things, but everyone has to think about it, everybody has to be conscious about it.”
Watch the entire conversation here.
Kjetil Trædal Thorsen, co-founder, and Marius Myking, director of product design at Snøhetta, discussed the approach of the esteemed Norwegian firm, "which eschews the established canons and produces sustainability-driven projects, promoting human relationships, knowledge sharing and cultural experiences. For Snøhetta, socio-environmental sustainability is a prerequisite for innovation, and light, both natural and artificial, is an essential aspect of sustainable design, increasing wellbeing and reducing our carbon footprint,” according to Salone.
Moderated by Anne-France Berthelon, freelance journalist and creative strategy consultant, the 'chat' titled the Continuous State of Reinvention delved into the multifaceted and collaborative nature of the studio and its collective ethos of celebrating individualism and diversity simultaneously. "Collaboration comes very naturally to Snohetta,” said Myking. Thorsen and Myking also elaborated on their various, site-specific architectural projects that touch upon the influence of lighting design and how it sensitises, emphasises, and enhances the relationship between spaces, nature, and human users.
Light is information and light is life. – Kjetil Trædal Thorsen
“We have set pretty ambitious sustainable goals for ourselves. From the beginning, it started more with ‘social sustainability,’ which developed into ‘environmental sustainability’ and hopefully, in (our) next phase, it will also deal with ‘economic sustainability.’ This consciousness also brings us into collaborations, which we don’t necessarily invent ourselves, but we follow certain trends that are happening, which we believe have a future—it could be concrete, it could be plastic—it could be many things, where we see that efforts going in a certain direction can re-contribute, re-support, can be re-evolve, and be brought back into the design language,” Thorsen elaborated.
Watch the entire conversation here.
For Chinese studio MAD Architects, a unique and extraordinary relationship has existed between light and architecture—the talk titled Be the MAD, be the LIGHT with Andrea D’Antrassi, Associate Partner at MAD Architects, moderated by Amit Gupta, Founder and Editor-in-Chief, STIR, and Samta Nadeem, Curatorial Director, STIR, placed emphasis on the parallelism of light’s importance in nature, for activating the processes of photosynthesis, as well as being a key element of the studio's design philosophy, transforming into emotional light within their projects.
Light is a key element for architecture. There is no architecture without light. Sometimes, we manipulate light to emphasise the space and its experience, to create a journey with and through light. For us, shaping light is like shaping spaces, as light is something that brings architecture alive. – Andrea D’Antrassi
"Shadows are not absence but involvement, light is not just openness but also detail," D'Antrassi elaborated. With the severe use of lights illuminating the fair, the question of sustainability sure comes up, and D'Antrassi stressed the values that creators need to bring to their projects, the consultants and clients they work with, to come up with solutions (without compromising on the quality of the products) and not just have conversations about it.
Watch the entire conversation here.
Alongside the Talks, two Round Tables were held focusing on the evolutionary processes of contemporary architecture, imparting intersectional insight from leading figures in urban, sustainable, lighting and landscape design, shaping a vision of future cities in which lighting will forge fresh paths towards a new way of life. The discussion also delved into and responded to pertinent questions such as How do past and present dialogue in an urban environment? How have workplaces changed? What is the role of light in modern design?
'Understanding the Future,' one of the most anticipated talks from the roster of conversations, was the one dedicated to young designers by Gaetano Pesce, renowned Italian sculptor, designer, and architect based in New York. He discussed at length, the fundamental steps in his colourful career as well as his interdisciplinary contributions to the design world at large, within the SaloneSatellite arena.
Furthermore, Design Schools and Universities—ECAL – Switzerland; Design School / Milan Polytechnic University – Italy; Tongji University – China; Design Academy Eindhoven – Holland; School Of Design / Pratt Institute – USA—met at SaloneSatellite for a Round Table within the SaloneSatellite Arena, on the theme of its 24th edition, 'DESIGN: WHERE ARE YOU GOING?'. According to the organisers, a group of five—Alexis Georgapoulos, Luisa Collina, Hongtao Zhou, Joseph Grima, Ignacio Urbina—were put together based on geographical representation, to keep the discussion as far-reaching and inclusive as possible.
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.
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