Join us for the first in a two part series exploring the sights and trends from the 2012 Milan Furniture Fair courtesy of design insider, Royce Epstein.
Very exciting to be posting from Milan, the design capital of the universe (at least for this week).
The beauty about Milan Design Week is that it is not just about i Saloni, the main trade show that showcases all types of Italian and European furniture, bath, and kitchen products. The entire city embraces design and participates in the festivities, making design a veritable “cause celebre” and indeed one of Italy’s great exports.
Before heading to the Saloni at the fairgrounds, I visited one area in the hip Zona Tortona that is part of the city’s extra events called “fuori salone”, literally meaning “outside” the show. Once there, I was greeted by graffiti shouting dismay at all the design madness (“Design ruins our lives”).
Surely this sentiment is at odds with the city’s thriving cultural scene as well as commitment to promoting Italian design, but it made me think about just what is the role of design. Design first and foremost solves problems to give people solutions for living and working. And design can change lives for the better (see what MASS Design is doing in Rwanda). Design can also bring a sense of purpose, order, and resolve in a chaotic world. At least this is what I tell myself when I go to work every day. So after that encounter with the graffiti, I then met these two guys hawking goods clearly “not made by a designer”.
Was this another reaction against the swarm of people who descend on Milan disrupting the natural order of the city, or was this performance art? Or even design itself? Since my Italian is rusty, I couldn’t get a good answer. It is clear however, that access to design sometimes can appear to be for designers only, and many feel left out. Good stuff to think about as I moved into the show…more in the next post…
For more design insights from Royce, visit www.repeatnorepeat.com or follow her on Twitter @RepeatNoRepeat.