A professional resource for the design curious

Get the latest design news direct to your inbox!


Oki Sato of Nendo and Luca Nichetto co-design a collection of products for an independent exhibition in Milan this year. Rachel Lee-Leong checks it out.



April 24th, 2013

Milan Indesign

It follows a form of collaborative Japanese poetry called tanka. Oki Sato, principal of Japanese design studio Nendo, starts a design proposal for a product and Italian designer Luca Nichetto adds his own thoughts and ideas to the design and finishes it off – or vice versa. All this happening over a span of a few days during the winter holidays (Christmas included). This was how Nichetto=Nendo came to be.

Nichetto and nendo bridges for islands

Bridges for Islands sofa with Casamania and Innofa

Nichetto and nendo Glas Italia

Shelves in a comic shelf with Glas Italia

It all started with a conversation over coffee in Stockholm in December 2012. Sato and Nichetto spoke of past collaborations between masters like Ettore Sottsass and Shiro Kuramata and wondered if they could reignite a collaboration between cultures again. And if they were to do it, it had to be more than just a case of exhibiting their own products side by side. What was needed was a real merging of ideas; a cross-pollination of cultural references. The result: seven products, all co-designed by both Sato and Nichetto.

Nichetto and nendo trellis bandaged Milan

Nichetto and nendo trellis bandaged

Trellis bandaged room divider with Innofa and Vertigo Metals

Crucial to the exhibition is a spirit of generosity and openness, where both designers enter into collaboration with a willingness to share and learn. “In Oki and my generation, we grew up with the idea of sharing, like the internet. You can see what’s happening with music. In the beginning was Napster and Winamp. There was a lot of this kind of stuff. Then now Spotify,” says Nichetto.

Nichetto and nendo paper ice cream lamps

Paper ice cream lamp with Foscarini and Taniguchi | Aoya Washi

Nichetto and nendo paper ice cream lamps

Paper ice cream lamp

“Our generation, we think that the future will be more and more networking. To share ideas is much better than to have ideas only for you. And to create this kind of process and exhibition, I really hope to show that designers who work and live in [different] cultures can work together. Not only to do stuff, but also to learn.”

Nichetto and nendo fish skin on the roof milan

Fish skin on the roof carpet with Ogeborg

Nichetto and nendo wedge of matter

Wedge of matter candle holder with Ochiai-Seisakusho and Kadowaki Coating (brass version) and Testi Fratelli (marble version)

Since it was an independent exhibition, Sato and Nichetto sought the support of manufacturers that they had worked with before, many of whom gamely stepped up to produce the prototypes. “After a while, they asked us if it was possible for them to show in the Salone. We say, ‘No no no! It would kill the idea of the exhibition’,” Nichetto shares. “But probably some of them would be in production soon.”

Nichetto and nendo pot

Portable pot (stool) with Discipline

Hero Image Credit: Hiroshi Iwasaki


Luca Nichetto

INDESIGN is on instagram

Follow @indesignlive

The Indesign Collection

A searchable and comprehensive guide for specifying leading products and their suppliers

Indesign Our Partners

Keep up to date with the latest and greatest from our industry BFF's!

Related Stories

While you were sleeping

The internet never sleeps! Here's the stuff you might have missed