by Graham Hiemstra and Evan Orensten
Milan Design Week is always full of surprises and this year's fair was no exception. We found a strong presence of innovative furnishings mixing modern production techniques with the classic aesthetic of raw materials. From "melting" wood to laser cut marble and a table that can be formed in multiple shapes, here are five of our favorites.
One of the most intriguing pieces was Ferruccio Laviani's design for Emmemobili. The massive wooden Twaya table is machine molded of countless layers of solid oak. Each corner of the expansive tabletop appears to melt, stretching the rough wood fibers into legs for a look unlike anything we've seen before.
Using over 400 wooden slats, the impressive Fan Table from Mauricio Affonso was a highlight of the Royal College of Art 's PARADISE show in the Ventura Lambrate neighborhood. Designed to "explore the role of tables as the infrastructure for social interaction," the transformative design can be effortlessly expanded or contracted to meet the needs of its surroundings. As the rectangle legs are moved the shape changes along with the surface size. From circle to rectangle to square, the Fan Table is a work of pure inspiration and one of the most impressive designs we saw. Affonso, a Brazilian designer earning his Master's at the school, is one to keep tabs on.
As part of the Vertigo exhibition, student designer Gaetano Gibilras instilled a sense of unknown with the VoroNOI table. Standing at 30cm high with a diameter twice the size, the stone and wood table was cut with innovative digital dissection techniques not generally seen in furniture production. Juxtaposing nicely against the milky stone top, each pinewood leg bares its own unique shape dictated by the unique VoroNOI diagram.
Also seen within the winding streets of Ventura Lambrate, Free Concrete was the product of Studio Itai Bar-On, part of the TLV Express collective. As the name implies, this sculptural piece is hand made with concrete, utilizing a customized bending process that allows the concrete to be rendered in lightweight, free form figures. The process allows for the choice of a smooth surface or a rougher, more natural texture, and this piece takes advantage of both with a smooth surface and a rough interior, to great effect.
Released just days before the fair, the TRI table is one of many inspiring pieces from the multidisciplinary design studio Thinkk. Created with the environment in mind, the table is made with powder coated aluminum and natural teak wood, and comes flat packed. We really appreciate the playful burst of color that extends through the tabletop, base and one of three legs.