Droog's current exhibit on the Foro Buonoparte as part of Milan's design week, called "A Touch of Green," attempts to address the imperfections and issues of sustainability with products that hint at eco-consciousness, while making no pretenses about resolving the matter. Martin Azua's "Plaited fence" is a simple galvanized iron frame stitched together with vertical strings through which users can weave a medley of discarded shopping bags. The design assumes that we will continue to use the harmful plastic sacks, but offers a second life for them.
One of the great things about visiting trade fairs is witnessing the emergence of trends and threading together the seemingly random way in which creative people develop similar ideas. Like Stephen Burks' Cappellini Love tables that we reported on yesterday, Belgian designer Jens Praet's "One day paper waste" utilizes shredded paper (Elle magazines in the model pictured). In this case, the object is made by combining paper with resin and compressing it into an MDF (vacuum) mold. The design begins at the same starting point as Burks', though lacks a thorough research into sustainable binding agents and socially motivated production.
Another product that shares similar traits with a recent design is Rotterdam-based duo Minale-Maeda's "Touch Wood." Earlier this year, Front Design created a group of benches and easy chairs for the Swedish manufacturer Materia. The furniture played with users expectations, subverting the traditional use of beech in Scandinavian furniture by replacing it with a wood-patterned fabric. In a nearly identical way, "Touch Wood" undermines our experience of traditional objects (other items in the series include a chair, a table, a door and a chandelier) by covering the surface in upholstery and wood-grained silk. Minale-Maeda suggests that we can still use rarefied woods, so long as they're simulated.
Easily the most engaging part of the show was Tobias Rockenfeld's "Creatures," a grouping of robots and insects made from discarded toys combined with household refuse and other trash. Quirky, somewhat creepy in cases, and not something that will be put into regular production, they offer the hope that children can be stimulated by more than slick toys and video games. It certainly made me long for a respite from all the highly polished furniture exhibitions and sift through the trash. (See more Creatures images after the jump.)