Zona Tortona has been Milan’s creative epicenter ever since Italian Vogue art director Flavio Lucchini and photographer Fabrizio Ferri brazenly opened studios along a row of abandoned warehouses back in 1983, spawning a creative migration and economic metamorphosis to the once industrial locale. Now fully established and recognized as a cultural hub with designers and artists abound, Zona Tortona plays annual host to newly branded Tortona Design Week, a satellite celebration of the Salone Internazionale del Mobile, where Heineken-carrying design enthusiasts revel in sun drenched courtyards while DJs spin an eclectic mix of drum and bass. This is where we find a new school of design, ripe with innovation and fervor for doing things different and better than before. Young and established designers alike whose thoughtful design and manufacturing processes consider more than just the bottom line. Here at Zona Tortona 2011, we find design philosophies and principals that will save the world.
The MIKA, by Berlin-based furniture designer Stephanie Jasny, takes its inspiration from a conventional painters trestle and adapts the concept brilliantly to comprise the base of a glass table. Using eight wooden laths connected by extra-strength magnets resulting in ideal weight distribution, the MIKA allows space at the ends to comfortably seat four people for a spacious yet intimate dining experience. With its flat-pack packaging and regionally harvested timber, this table is sustainably delicious.
Designed by Portuguese architect, Jose Melo Ferreira, the Spleen collection of furniture has an understated, timeless aesthetic. Its sculptural beauty overshadows its perplexing structure and ingenious engineering. Made almost entirely from locally manufactured plywood, Spleen uses less than a millimeter of wood veneer, allowing the production of hundreds of furniture pieces from just one fallen tree, without compromising the intended design.
Belgium design Atelier, Wunderbar, uses FSC certified wood and their production process boasts eco-friendly, biodegradable, water-based finishes. Its products are all handmade by local artisans, and they produce their products near the markets in which they sell, lowering CO2 emissions by cutting back on transportation. To top it off, their clean-line designs and solid construction encourage sustainability through generations of enjoyment and use.
Double your design pleasure with the clever and sustainable creations from studio Tweelink. Founded back in 2005 by twin sisters Tineke & Marieke Willems of The Netherlands, Tweelink strives to give new meaning to everyday, ordinary objects. Their playful Woody’s series use waste materials ranging from old shelves, to fallen branches, to discarded toys to create new toys for children (and adults) to play with and marvel at for years to come.
Part rocking horse, part desk, the Doppelhoppel literally flips between playtime and craft time simply by turning the piece over. Created by German designer Thomas Wehage, it has the silhouette of a traditional rocking horse, but in a stripped-down, reduced form. Both modern and nostalgic, Doppelhoppel is made with environmentally friendly, robust materials that provide safety and lasting enjoyment.
Famed Portuguese architect Álvaro Siza Vieira was thinking green when he created Unda, a centerpiece of “Spectrum” glass produced by a handmade process that uses at least 50% recycled glass. It comes in black and white, and can be custom made in a variety of groovy, undulating colors.
Founded in 2004 by Alzira Peixoto and Carlos Mendoca, Simple Forms Design’s aptly named Cork collection embraces sustainability with style in a variety of products, including bowls, serving trays, and lighting. Harvested from Portugal’s cork forests, which is responsible for more than half of the world’s cork output and is one of the most successful examples of sustainable agroforestry, Simple Form Design’s products are made from a highly renewable and recyclable materials. This, coupled with their modern aesthetic appeal, makes Cork a must-have.
Another gem from the design duo Tweelink, the Madame Eiffel chandelier is comprised of 324 Eiffel Tower key rings with a foundation and three levels, just like the one in Paris. Kitschy up close, jaw-dropping elegant from a distance, Madame Eiffel’s larger-than-life message is to “repurpose” materials to make something new and wonderful that can be used in a practical sense, such as lighting.
I fell head over heals for this Latex Roll Pouf by Italian design trio 13 Ricrea. Made from the industrial waste of the Italian shoe industry, this pouf comes in Black, Lilac, Green, Sand, White, Yellow, and Blue and are as comfortable to sit in as Italian-made shoes are to stand in.
For Portugal furniture manufacturer Myface, designing quality, long lasting, and recyclable products is the only way to do business. All of their products, including the Oslo Chair, come in a variety of colors and finishes, and can smartly be recoated to give it a few more years of life before recycling it.
Munich-based designer Stefan Diez created this lounge chair title EC03 Eugene for the internationally respected design brand, e15. The EC03 Eugene, made with locally manufactured plywood and sustainably harvested wood veneers, offers ample comfort and style without excess material. It’s both minimal and highly expressive with a tasteful sense of humor.
Designers Valeria Cifarelli, Matteo Prudenziati, Davide Rampanelli, and Alessia Zema make up the experimental, participation-based design collective, Controprogetto. Always using discarded, scrap materials, Controprogetto puts into practice the “retraining of unusable materials and resources” to create a number of different products and projects, including furniture, interiors, temporary settings, and structures for public spaces. With the objective to share knowledge and educate people the potential capabilities of scrap materials, these passionate, young designers are playing a key role in changing the way we look at our fading resources.