It’s time for my second post on Milan Design Week 2019 (did you catch the first?). Today, I’m rounding up six more design launches that caught my eye at the furniture fair and design event of the year. Minimalism, quality crafted design and sustainability are the main themes here – from design icons reissued from the archives, through stackable chairs that can be endlessly recycled, to carpets woven from ecological paper. Hope you like them!
1. The Preview by &Tradition
We’re probably all familiar now with Danish brand &Tradition by now – with one eye to the future, and one to the past, they aim to bridge the gap between the old and the new by producing furniture with a timeless appeal, either by reworking existing design icons or collaborating with contemporary designers to create tomorrow’s classics.
For 2019, &Tradition has dug into the archive and relaunched a series of designs by Hvidt & Mølgaard – a Copenhagen-based architectural and design company founded by Peter Hvidt and Orla Mølgaard-Nielsen in 1944. In the Fifties, they were pioneers in the shift towards mass production, creating pieces that could be assembled easily and produced at scale.
One of my favourite pieces, their Spindle floor lamp of 1953, is being put into production for the first time. It’s made of black lacquered steel with brass details and strikes a playful balance between its sculptural shade and angular legs. I also love the mid-century shape of the Boomerang chair (1956). Named after the Australian tool, it features an L-shaped wooden frame, upholstered seat cushions and neat, slender brass legs. There’s also the Chamber chair (1956) with its traditional woven seat, the Drop Leaf dining table and coffee table (1956) that can be collapsed down to save space, as well as the versatile Pinwheel table (1953), made up of six leaf-shaped pieces that can be slotted together to form one bigger table.
&Tradition juxtaposes these classics with two new pieces from Spanish designer Jaime Hayon, who is renowned for his playful approach to design. Taking inspiration from an elephant, he has created Elefy, a curvaceous shell chair with a hint of character and humour. If you view the chair from the side you can make out the shape of the animal’s large ears in the curve of the armrests. There’s several styles to choose from – a range of contemporary colours and upholstery for the seat, and metal or solid wood legs for the base. Hayon has also designed the Setago lamp, a cute, mushroom-shaped table lamp that can be charged via a USB cable and moved around the house.
&Tradition hasn’t shot any campaign imagery for these pieces yet, but here’s some beautiful illustrations from All the Way to Paris and some images from me taken in Milan.
2. News from Muuto
I always love hearing news from Danish brand Muuto – their designs are the type of understated pieces I would have in my own home, like my 70/70 green dining table. For 2019, they’ve released a number of new pieces that will fit right into any minimalist home.
Following on from the success of Muuto’s Linear series of outdoor furniture – released earlier this year in January – they’ve expanded the collection with a wooden design for indoors. Designed by Thomas Bentzen, the Linear table and bench are simple and functional, with refined details. Made of an oak veneer frame and legs with a plywood top, the clean lines of its form are what makes them beautiful.
Says Bentzen: ‘The Linear Wood Series was designed from the idea of bringing the warm and friendly sentiment of wood into a timeless, understated shape with its form language inspired by the notion of meetings – the meetings of lines and shapes.’
Muuto has also added a wall version to its Ambit lamp family, a smaller side chair to its sculptural Oslo series by Anderssen & Voll (below) and a neat, lightweight side table by Big-Game called Relate that can be moved so that it’s positioned over a sofa.
Images courtesy Muuto
3. JH97 chair by Jaime Hayon for Fritz Hansen
For Milan, Fritz Hansen unveiled a new brand identity and strategy, letting go of ‘The Republic of’ for a simpler, more contemporary name. While the branding has been reduced down and refined, the styling at the fair was bolder, richer and more colourful, with pops of hue, velvet upholstery, eclectic objects and ornate, Turkish rugs.
One designer who was busy at Milan Design Week was Jaime Hayon! As well as the aforementioned designs for &Tradition, he also unveiled a new armchair for Fritz Hansen. Here, again, he’s taken inspiration from nature’s wildlife, using the body of the pelican to play with the JH97 chair’s sculptural design. The bird’s broad wings, rounded body and long beak with its bulbous pouch have found their way, in some shape or form, into a wooden frame that curves around two upholstered cushions to embrace the sitter. The chair looks good from all angles, especially the side when the curves come to life.
Hayon was also mindful of Fritz Hansen’s design heritage, which may be why this design has a slightly mid-century appeal, especially when in dark wood. Says Hayon: ‘The idea was to create a “typical” Danish lounge chair, expressive and modern. Comfort was a key factor, as was the combination of the best of Danish design tradition and modern technology.”
The JH97 chair is available in stores from September 2019.
Images courtesy Fritz Hansen
4. News from Tom Dixon
You’ve probably seen Tom Dixon’s new Milanese restaurant The Manzoni all over Instagram, especially those toilets! However I want to draw your attention to two new collections from the British designer – FAT and OPAL – that formed part of the sleek, monochrome look.
FAT is an expressive, new chair range with a curved, tubular backrest that hugs the body of the sitter. It has a bit of the Bauhaus about it, with its reductionist lines. Manufactured in Europe, FAT comes in three sizes – two bar stools and a dining chair. It’s made of moulded foam with high gloss, black metal legs.
I also like the OPAL lights – a group of translucent globes made of tinted white opalescent polycarbonate. Instead of a lightbulb, there’s a dimmable, energy-efficient LED that emits a soft, diffused and flattering glow. The collection includes two pendant lights, two floor lights and a surface light.
Images courtesy Tom Dixon
5. On & On by Barber & Osgerby for Emeco
Sustainability, using recycled waste and thinking about a product’s lifecycle were key themes at Milan Design Week 2019. One such illustration is the On & On series by British designers Barber & Osgerby for American furniture manufacturer Emeco, comprising a stackable chair and two stools. The simple form of the design makes reference to traditional, 1930s, bentwood cafe chairs, but is forward-thinking in its manufacture and production.
With circular design in mind, On & On is made of 70% recyclable PET, strengthened with 20% glass fibre and coloured with a non-toxic pigment. The chair is designed to be recycled at the end of its life and Emeco is working on a chair-to-chair programme where customers can bring in old chairs and the material can be used to make a new design.
The On & On chairs have a slender profile and can be rotationally stacked to save space. Says Barber & Osgerby: ‘The chair has been designed to use as little material as possible, making it extremely lightweight and the efficient use of plastic ensures lower carbon emissions when shipping.’
I wasn’t that familiar with Woodnotes before this Milan Design Week, but I’m happy I am now. Founded in 1987 by textile designer Ritva Puotila and her son Mikko Puotila, Woodnotes is a Finnish company that creates products inspired by paper yarn. They were the first company in the world to use paper yarn in functional textiles in a contemporary way, and today produce carpets as well as furniture and accessories, from blinds to cushions. Woodnotes’ pure and simple products are made in Finland respecting ecological and ethical values.
They say: ‘[Our products] reflect Finnish characteristics and provide a counterbalance to the hectic modern world. The spun paper yarn is made from wood which is a genuinely natural, durable material containing the picture of the past preserved memory. The company name, Woodnotes, combines the durable characteristics of wood with lighter, artistic notes.’
My favourite pieces from their collection are the Squareplay and Stripe carpets (first image), because you know I like my stripes! These can be placed side by side, as seen below, to create a dynamic flooring display. There’s also San Francisco (third image) that combines stripes with sections of subtle pattern. In terms of furniture, this year Woodnotes has added a dining table to their Twiggy collection. This lightweight, multifunctional design is made of an oak frame, finished with wax or stained black, with a clear glass top. The structure uses oak sticks set at different angles to create a playful display, hence the name (nothing to do with the super model!).
Images courtesy Woodnotes