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The #Salone17 Review: What More Should We Expect From Milan?

For anyone who couldn’t make it to Milan’s Salone del Mobile and Design Week this year, Cubes magazine’s Milan in Review panel at Xtra had all the need-to-know insights!

The #Salone17 Review: What More Should We Expect From Milan?

Has Milan Design Week become too big? Does it go as far as it could in pushing creativity that will really impact how we’re living now and into the future? Is it global enough in its gaze? Salone del Mobile visitor numbers were slightly down this year, but ask anyone in the know and they’ll tell you that Milan Design Week and the Salone are still the leading design events in the world.

On 17 May, we brought together a panel of respected figures from Singapore’s design and architecture industries to dissect the biggest event on the world’s design calendar. Panellists Matthew Shang (Principal, HASSELL), Olivia Lee (designer, Olivia Lee) and Gwen Tan (Partner, Formwerkz Architects) took the floor at Xtra with moderator Narelle Yabuka (Editor, Cubes and to share their picks of the best products and stands, as well as their perspectives on the week in general.

All of the panellists came away from their visits to Milan Design Week with varied experiences, but they also shared some common impressions. In particular, all were keen to see more than the polished displays in the fairgrounds. Said Shang, “It would be great to see more of the process – the failures, the products that didn’t make it, and also the testing.” It would be great to see the fair as more of a forum for talking about design, he said, rather than seeing just a few finished products.

Tan saw the dangers of today’s rapid production cycle, sharing how she saw some similar designs by particular designers for multiple brands. She referred to an inspiring visit to the Castiglioni studio, where it was apparent that every design was developed for a specific purpose.

Lee also emphasised the need to address real needs and real users. The projects that attracted her were the ones that had something to say – be it about a new way of recycling waste material, or aligning with a new kind of business model. “As we approach peak stuff, the focus areas should be areas that need design – agriculture, supply chains, ecosystems, bio design, technology – all these areas would be great themes to talk about,” she said.

Lee’s experience of exhibiting her own products at SaloneSatellite was also a big topic of discussion, and she was delighted to receive a hearty applause form the audience with regard to the fantastic reception to her Athena Collection of analogue products that address our new tech-related habits.

The Cubes and Indesign Media Asia team extends a huge thanks to our panellists, to our host Xtra, and to Kith café for providing the food!

Photography by Wilson Pang.


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