For the first time in a few years in Milan, there was a clear definition in approaches to exhibiting product. On the one hand, the slightly formal, and to our mind, slightly dated approach, was to put product on a bit of a pedestal and exhibit it as something rarefied and removed from real life. On the other hand, a new and quite refreshing approach was also evident. This was more about showing product in context, at times with other everyday objects around, and at others with accompanying narratives about how things are made. This approach was much more conversational and engaging, to an extent it acknowledged that new products are always made within a specific cultural context, rather than in a vacuum. Three particularly enjoyable shows that were signifiers of this new approach were Droog, Moooi and Kvadrat.
Droog made a presentation in collaboration with the Rijksmuseum. Utilising the beautiful and extensive collections of the Rijksmuseum, Droog created an on-site installation that comprised an entrance way, a bedroom, kitchen, living and dining area.
The spaces also used wallpapers from graphic designer Irma Boom that incorporate works of famous painters like Vermeer and Rembrandt in the museum’s collection.
The spaces were populated with new Droog products, which were also available to buy at their on-site store. A wonderful presentation that showed how Droog have matured into one of the most forward thinking companies in the industry.
Moooi created quite a stir last year with their show on Via Savona. Their collaboration with the photographer Erwin Olaf, not one to shy away from controversy, touched on areas of “lifestyle” that most brands would steer well clear of. We thought it was just about the best thing in Milan.
This year, their show was in a similar vein, but with the less controversial art photographer Massimo Listri. With a greater focus on spaces and objects, the show was still very impressive.
By exhibiting their collections with an array of other objects, including a microlight plane, they showed confidence and a relaxed attitude to how spaces can be put together. The product collections themselves are actually looking more resolved and they have toned down some of their well-known extravagance, a welcome change in our view.
Kvadrat, the Danish fabric powerhouse, created a special exhibition to celebrate their Divina fabric, which comes in fifty-six different colours. They commissioned twenty-two international designers to interpret Divina, and exhibited the results.
Divina is a felt style fabric that was originally created by Danish painter and graphic artist Finn Sködt in 1984 and is a popular choice for upholstery. In a show free from the formal constraints of product development, none of the items are going in to production, it was enjoyable to see how the different designers had responded.
We were particularly pleased to see so many daybeds on show, in our view, the most aspirational item of all (if you have time to sleep in the day, your life must be good). Great colour and great fun.
Photography courtesy of: