Milan's stunning Brera Design District has been a bastion of art and culture for nearly two thousand years, and the work featured there during Milan Design Week 2014 pays homage to that history. The buildings there, many of which are centuries old, are host to innovating and inspiring projects by both established and up-and-coming designers; Italian and international alike. The main theme of the exhibitions centered around recycling and sustainability: reusing and upcycling used materials in order to make products that are both beautiful and environmentally responsible.
Sweden-based designer Hampus Penttinen created his Svartskär chair out of the flotsam that washes up on the shore of Kosterhavet—Sweden’s only national marine park. He used grafting techniques to bind lengths of polypropylene rope and fishing line for the chair’s body, as grafting is commonly used to hold fragile items together; this echoes the fragility of marine ecosystems and their vulnerability to the detritus thrown into them.
“Two Little Birds” playhouse by Luka Jelusic is an indoor play space for preschoolers. Made of birch plywood and rope made from water hyacinths, it’s a space in which children can indulge their imaginations in an enclosed, safe environment that’s made just for them. With shelving space for toys and books, this nook could be an imaginary boat, treehouse, or fairy castle; whatever the child can dream of.
Traditionally, rope-making has always been a group endeavor, with many people working together for mutual benefit. Ropes created by communities are used for everything from fishing to furniture, and said ropes are generally made from used materials. In “Woven Link” by Laetitia Fortin, plastic bags and textile remnants gain new life as woven rope furniture, created by many hands for all to use and enjoy.
Cara works primarily with upcycled materials found in and around the Cape Town area. These frames are made from reclaimed wood, as are many other pieces she has on display both at Brera and Fuori Salone this year.
Italian design firm ildoppiosegno collaborated with the folks at I Barzaghi to create stunning pieces from solid black walnut wood. The intent is to create sculptural furniture that will last for several generations; a stark contrast to temporary, disposable furniture that has gained popularity in recent decades.
Staygreen collaborated with Roberto Pamio + Partners to create a line of eco-savvy furnishings that didn’t skimp on style. Made from corrugated cardboard and held together with a glue made from pea starch, these elegant pieces would fit right into any modern living space.
Martin Björnson‘s wooden “Octopus” chairs are sculptures in their own right, with eight legs for ultimate balance and sturdiness instead of just three or four.
The “o-Re-Gami” mobile lamp, designed by Matali Crasset for Regenesi, is formed from molded sheets of recycled leather. It’s both recycled and biodegradable, and when combined with an LED bulb, creates a soft, gentle light that’s ideal for home or workplace use.
Regenesi’s line of plates and bowls is made of brushed recycled aluminium. The line was designed by Denis Santachiara, who believes that contrary to popular belief, recycled materials can be trendy and glamorous while also being sustainable and eco-responsible.
Viabizzuno’s products are both elegant and eco-conscious: The company endeavors to reduce energy consumption and environmental pollutants, while ensuring that their creations are as functional and stunning as they are ethical. This lighting system by Mario Nanni—Men Sole—is a perfect example of how sustainability doesn’t have to skimp on style.
Two of Viabizzuno’s lighting specialists, Mario Nanni and Alessandro Fantetti, teamed up to create this piece, entitled 13° Angolo (13 degree angle). Viabizzuno’s mandate is to “create wellbeing through lighting”, and pieces such as this, with clean, crisp lines and softer light sources, can certainly do exactly that.
Also by Mario Nanni and Alessandro Fantetti for Viabizzuno, this piece isn’t just a lighting system: it’s a perfect perch for a planter of fresh herbs or flowers, and would be as beautiful in a garden as in a sitting-room.