The curse of Milan continues

Just as architects are gearing up for Cityscape, furniture manufacturers are dusting off their stands and getting ready for the onslaught of buyers flocking to Index.

COMMENT, Design

The season of exhibitions is upon us. Just as architects are gearing up for Cityscape, furniture manufacturers are dusting off their stands and getting ready for the onslaught of buyers flocking to Index.

An interesting point was made by the trend strategists who reported on this year's 100% Design Show in London for us. They listed a host of creative design solutions that responded to the global desire for sustainable products, including the increased use of wooden ‘strata', a subtly striped wooden surface created by cutting across layered laminates; they heralded the attractive reproductions of Florence Broadhurst's original wallpaper designs; the fresh wallpapers of Susan Bradley that are gathering momentum; the retro designs derived from 1960's Japan in the latest range by Karimoku and the creative use of leather by Helen Amy Murray, and yet, they remained ‘a little disappointed by the predictability' of the exhibitors.

They laid the blame at the gilded door of Milan's Salone Internazionale del Mobile, who raised the benchmark of what a design show should be to almost unattainable levels.

This is the trouble with having an international design calendar that is dominated by one show; if we for one moment ignore that Milan's fiesta of design exists then the offerings paraded at 100% Design last month would have grabbed column inches in the global design trade magazines with both manicured hands. The show is now under the new creative direction of Tom Dixon, who implemented a design concept that was inspired by the urban landscape.

It displayed a dependence on metallics for its product launches, exploiting production techniques such as casting, punching, anodising and hammering and it flaunted unseen products such as the Punch Wall Light, made from stainless steel and inspired by the cooling fins of motorbike engines.

Similarly, we have just returned from the Habitat Valencia Forward (look out for our report in CID's November issue) and if that pesky Milanese expo had kept its doors closed back in April, this Spanish offering surely would be the crowning glory in the overcrowded diaries of international designers.

Whilst our own Index cannot compete with the likes of Tom Dixon and Andreu World, we can take inspiration from some of the supplementary exhibitions within these big shows such as the 100% Futures in London and the NUDE expo in Valencia that showcases emerging design talent.

Like their European counterparts, Young Middle Eastern designers also need a forum for expression and a chance for the big design firms to snap up their enthusiasm and inventiveness, perhaps this is the niche that shows like Index needs?

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