Milan – With the dust barely settled on Milan Design Week, savvy brands will already be thinking about what they can learn from this year’s exhibitions in order to begin preparing for the next. With two decades of experience helping businesses programme design-lead events, the St-W team is well placed to assess 2019's best-in-class – here are our top picks.
[-] MAKE TECH MAKE SENSE
WHO: Suchi Reddy for Google
WHERE: Porta Venezia
WHY THEY SUCCEEDED: In an inversion of their 2018 appearance at Salone, the Silicon Valley brand used technology to show the value of design, rather than the other way around. The company presented attendees to their stand with an armband that measured the body’s reactions to three unique interior spaces. The personalised results were then displayed using circular visualizations on printed cards handed out to visitors at the end of their walk through. This gave designers an approachable way of understanding the value of neuroaesthetics and proved the role such data could play in creating interiors more psychologically (not to mention democratically) attuned to the public that uses them.
[-] LET THE LOCATION TAKE THE LEAD
WHO: Note Design Studio for Tarkett
WHY THEY SUCCEEDED: Vinyl flooring company Tarkett's exhibition was inspired by a visit to their chosen venue, the Circolo Filologico Milanese. Instead of covering the space to fit the material, they let the building’s personality shine through and resorted to playing with the layout. For example, the Note team used the ground-floor Sala Liberty, where visitors usually seat to look upwards, to house scale-bending vertical objects so that visitors could look downwards from the first-floor balustrade. The unlikely shapes of the totems, featuring some challenging double curvatures, acted as a perfect demonstration of the technical challenges the brand's new iQ Surface can endure.
[-] PLAY HARD TO GET
WHO: Masquespacio for Poggi Ugo
WHERE: San Vittore
WHY THEY SUCCEEDED: Terracotta manufacturer Poggi Ugo showed the value of prioritising (sensorial) engagement over footfall. The brand invited visitors to an un-signposted rooftop enclave on a nondescript apartment building in an out-of-the-way neighbourhood. Those willing to undertake the journey discovered a refuge that seemed to exist in a different psychological realm to the busyness of the fair, and created the perfect environment to experience the very immediate, material joy of Poggi Ugo's products. Every visitor we spoke with remembers being inexplicably overcome by joy and calm and mellowness and a renewed love for the Italian soil and the crafty dedication of its inhabitants.
[-] CO-CREATE TO INNOVATE
WHO: UNStudio for USM
WHERE: Salone del Mobile, Rho Fiera
WHY THEY SUCCEEDED: At last year’s Salone, modular-furniture maker USM asked their visitors to answer questions about their way of living and working, thus gaining invaluable information for the development of future collections. This year the brand chose to collaborate with its audience, inviting passers-by to actively co-design the space with the help of custom-made stickers, which were designed by the UNS Futures team in collaboration with Pinc graphic design. As the week went on, the black walls, floors and surfaces were slowly covered in a growing ‘landscape’ of geometric shapes, courtesy of the fair attendees.
[-] SIGNAL YOUR SUPERLATIVES
WHY THEY SUCCEEDED: This year Milan Design Week was understandably concerned with 3D biomaterial printing, the symbiosis between man and AI and how technology can help make more inclusive design decisions. However, fashion marque Loewe decided to stay behind the times in an intentionally different way: by doubling down on its celebration of slow and experimental handicraft. In the courtyard of the brand’s store, leather baskets made for carrying large rocks and knotty squiggle nests sat on long white tables, sheltered from the sun by a series of delicate ecru quilts on a clothes line. Even in the middle of the most crowded shopping street in Milan, this space had become a silent temple. Staying true to itself, even when this went so against the prevailing zeitgeist, made Loewe’s contribution one of this year's most memorable.
St-W has a wealth of experience in programming events and consulting on exhibition design for a range of leading brands, from Sonos to Aēsop, Gaggenau, Vitra and The Hoxton hotel group.
If you would like to find out more about how St-W’s creative services team can help you make the greatest possible impact at Milan 2020, or any other event you might be planning, please contact our International Sales Manager Baruch Pichowski at st-w.info. You can read the rest of St-W's coverage from Milan Design Week 2019 here.