MDW16: New Talent Steals the Show at Ventura Lambrate

Ventura Lambrate is always our favorite district at Milan Design Week and this year was no exception. It’s the real “fringe” of the fair, bursting with new talent and well-served by street food and gelato sellers, so what’s not to love? And this year, our favorite exhibition in our favorite district was Structure – a curated collection of the most exciting new craft and design in Norway. And our favorite piece? Between by Sara Wright Polmar (above) – neither a sofa nor an armchair, but something in between.


We absolutely loved the nerdy yet understated aesthetic of Claudia Schoemig’s Graph collection which comprises hand-thrown porcelain tea and coffee bowls, espresso cups and vases.


Brook Sigal’s Hydria collection is designed to imbue tap water with the qualities of mineral water and so reduce the number of plastic bottles produced across the world each year – a figure that currently stands at 160 billion. “What will be the archeological finds of the future?,” she asks. “Will crumpled plastic bottles, tiny beads or a chemical slush be the artifacts that explain the technology and behavior of peoples of our era?”


Exa is a collection of ash hexagonal tables and stools with lacquered tops available in all RAL and Pantone colors – including 2016 color of the year Serenity Rose Quartz – by architect, interior designer and stylist Daniele Drigo.


Established in 2016, Aoomi Studio’s ambition is to make beautiful homewares. “We love to create new ideas. We are dreamers,” they say. “But before we even put our dreams on paper, we try to think a few decades ahead. Would people still love to drink a morning coffee from our mug? Creating something new yet timeless and beautiful is our everyday mission.” Their Everyday Stoneware collection is hand glazed and hand painted to make every piece unique. We’d happily still be using it in 30 years.


German brand Studio Oink has put a version of British designer Aimee Bollu’s wonderful graduate collection into production. Aimee describes herself as “a collector, a gatherer, an arranger of things people have discarded and forgotten” and says she seeks out “objects that have fallen out of use, out of society” in order to bring them back to life. It’s a worthy ambition that results in some very beautiful objects.


Established by Emma Fox Derwin and Nigel Groom in New Zealand in 2009, we love design studio Well Groomed Fox for its name alone. The fact that it makes statement furniture, lighting, homewares and ceramics as stunning as this bright blue Disintegrated Cloak cabinet – described by the pair as an experiment in flat pack – is just a bonus.


Vartti by Mirella Virtanen is designed to grow with your family. The base is made of two birch and oak stools to which a board can be added to create a bench.


Dutch designer Ward Wijnant wanted to know what happened when you combined craft with industrial strength steel. The result is these powder-coated Twisted chairs. “I’m fascinated by the specific properties of a material and I explore them to discover surprising elements in my designs,” he explains.


We loved this Fade to Grey wallpaper and cushions by Alix Waline for Anglo-Italian interior designer Chiara Colombini’s online shop.


Spanish-born, London-based Marta Bordes launched her Elastic Lights as part of her graduate collection from Central Saint Martin’s in September. In a new colorway for Spring, this is Satelite. “Satelite is an articulated ceramic lamp that moves in tangent rotation around its base,” she says. “The lamp is a tensile structure that can be articulated with a gentle movement. It can be precisely stopped and remain balanced at any position, providing an intriguing effect of weightlessness.”


And finally, Space Frames by Studio Mieke Meijer is made from plywood, polyester fabric and LED lights, and was inspired by archetypical architectural elements such as arcs, columns, trusses and plates. “The series of objects can be positioned freely, in unpredictable and thought-provoking compositions,” say the designers. “The arrangements of the separate objects create an interaction with the surrounding space, making the negative and positive space equally important.”

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.