MDW16: Check into Hotel Wallpaper*Handmade

Wallpaper* Handmade is always a highlight of Milan Design Week. This year the exhibition was curated with a slightly different approach and a very distinct theme for 2016 – travel and the Wallpaper* Hotel. “This year we invite you to check in to Hotel Wallpaper* for our annual Wallpaper* Handmade showcase,” said a statement from the magazine, which celebrates its 20th anniversary this year. “Working with the theme of travel and hospitality, Wallpaper* has turned to the design world’s sharpest creative minds to envision the ultimate home away from home for the design-savvy traveler.” This approach resulted in a cohesive collection of objects we can only dream of encountering all on the same trip! And it all started with the packing – Tomas Alonso’s Multifunctional Bag (above), created in collaboration with furniture, lighting and accessories manufacturer e15, expands or contracts to suit your needs.


Then to unpacking… the brief for David Chipperfield Architects came from the fact that the team at Wallpaper* realized, for all their traveling, they rarely unpack fully into hotel wardrobes, or even make use of the standard suitcase stands. “Most hotels have badly designed wardrobes and cupboards,” says David Chipperfield. “They are not well organized and unpacking your suitcase is not enjoyable. The idea of Butler was to design a ‘dressing table’ that makes unpacking in a hotel room a joy.” David Chipperfield Architects worked with e15 and the American Hardwood Export Council (AHEC) to bring the idea to life in American willow.


Continuing the theme of storage, Beatrix Ong and Joined + Jointed presented the Shoe Tree – a tower of American black walnut shoeboxes. “Storing shoes is always somewhat challenging in terms of space and aesthetic,” says Ong. “I wanted to create a piece that is both storage and display. Calling it Shoe Tree hints at its ability to grow.” Each box has a small window so you can see in to the shoes inside.


The Beyond Side Table by Sydney-based design and architecture practice Archer Office and Marblo explored a similar idea, except that as well as stacking, the six boxes and one drawer also fit inside one another concentrically. The boxes are made from Marblo, a polymer hybrid originally developed in Australia in 1979 as a high performance material for laboratory and kitchen countertops.


London-based designer Philippe Malouin designed this Carrara marble bedside table in collaboration with the Italian family-run Marsotto to provide flexibility – the ‘backbone’ is static and then a number of shelf-modules can be added according to requirement.


After a good night’s sleep – breakfast; and so to the Breakfast Table and Chair set by DWA and Mariotti. Mariotti’s composite material has many applications, but to date most of them have been on an industrial scale. The challenge for DWA was to use this material in a more domestic setting – a hotel’s breakfast room. “In reducing the scale of the material’s application, the inherent textural and visual characteristics of the material are brought to the fore,” says a statement from the exhibition’s curators.


Stockholm-based Note Design Studio and Antique Mirror created a series of angular pedestals designed for the Wallpaper* Hotel restaurant – inspired by antique pastry tables – in silvered Pelichromo, oxidised Meteora and mosaic Volcano.


Fashion designer Roksanda Ilincic worked with Linck Ceramics to put her own spin on a collection of hand-thrown ceramic vessels created by Margrit Linck between the 1940s and 1960s and only ever produced in a simple white glaze. Now adorned with Ilincic’s signature color blocking, they will provide a welcome burst of color to any hotel interior.


Sculpted out of sustainable, lightweight and temperature-resistant cork, the Wallpaper* Hotel sun lounger offers somewhere to catch some sun as well as something that borders on an art piece thanks to young designer Fabien Cappello, who worked with cork specialist Amorim to realize the project using six types of cork.


And finally, it goes without saying this this hotel is going to need somewhere to display all those copies of Wallpaper* Magazine in its lobby, which is where Vladimir Kagan’s collaboration with H Furniture comes in. Inspired by the London Eye, sadly this was Kagan’s last project, as he died on April 7th, 2016, shortly after completing it. The American designer was born in Germany in 1927 and counted Marilyn Monroe and Walt Disney among his clients. He was inducted in the Interior Designer Hall of Fame in 2009.

Katie Treggiden is a purpose-driven journalist, author and, podcaster championing a circular approach to design – because Planet Earth needs better stories. She is also the founder and director of Making Design Circular, a program and membership community for designer-makers who want to join the circular economy. With 20 years' experience in the creative industries, she regularly contributes to publications such as The Guardian, Crafts Magazine and Monocle24 – as well as being Editor at Large for Design Milk. She is currently exploring the question ‘can craft save the world?’ through an emerging body of work that includes her fifth book, Wasted: When Trash Becomes Treasure (Ludion, 2020), and a podcast, Circular with Katie Treggiden.