Milan 2013: Ventura Lambrate

I love Ventura Lambrate – it was my favorite part of Milan Design Week last year and again this year. Across Milan, there seemed to be a trend towards furniture you can relax in and work in – one of my favourite examples was this chair by Smool by Robert Bronwasser:



I also spotted this fold away desk by Moupila which can be completely customised with different modules to suit your needs. Each one is made to order so the price point is still quite high, but it’s a fab idea.

Curated by Kasper Salto & Thomas Sigsgaard, MINDCRAFT13 was the Danish Crafts exhibition introducing new products from 15 craftspeople and designers.


My favorite was Growth Chair by Mathias Bengtsson, which “simulates natural growth, copying some of nature’s rules and methods.”


The Admit One Gentleman exhibition by Dante included this rather fabulous ‘reflective’ signage. Dante was founded in 2012 by artist Aylin Langreuter and industrial designer Christophe de la Fontaine, and I think their combination of skills gives them a really interesting approach.


TIVD, aka This Is Very Dangerous, presented My Grandmother an exhibition inspired by just that. Helga Josepsdottir’s Grandmother “thought she could do everything, and she could, and she did.” This stool is inspired by her relentless abilities as a hostess and her love of natural materials.


Charlotte Kingsnorth says: “I see chairs as alive, so I collect furniture frames and take them back to my studio. I sketch the character I see, and then start building and sculpting the upholstery around them” The result is her Hybreed project – which I rather like.


The Institute of Industrial Design at the University of Art and Design in Basel FHNW’s were making their paper lamps live from a “performing workshop”.


Milan Verstraete’s guerrilla furniture concept was the idea behind these benches, which popped up all over Ventura Lambrate. Flexible enough to appear almost anywhere, a respite for exhausted show visitors like me, and utterly intriguing with one tightly secured end and the other free floating, they were a welcome sight.


This really made me smile – it’s amazingly simple to imbue inanimate objects with human characteristics. Bert Loenschner’s Monobloc Project is an investigation into the garden chair, its role in design culture and the relationship between furniture and those that use it.


These rugs by Katie Jaques and Sanne Van Den Hoogen are so spot on for the current neon and geometric trends they couldn’t be more ‘now’ if they tried. They are designed to make people feel more comfortable in offices by enabling different zones to be created without using walls.

One of my favourite stands at Ventura Lambrate was the The Rhode Island School of Design stand.


Curated by President John Maeda, and entitled “Risk and Certainty in Uncertain Times”, it showcased work from 21 RISD alumni. “This work epitomises what critical making – concurrent thinking and making – can achieve for design,” says Maeda. “It re-energises the importance of making and thinking.”


I really liked the use of materials in Danna Cannam’s All of a Piece produced in collaboration with Earnest Studio and exhibited at 010 – 020.


Also at 010 – 020, I loved Mae Engelgeer’s Mexican-inspired textile designs. Mae is based in Amsterdam and produces all of her work at the Textile Museum in Tilburg.

And last but by no means least, a chandelier made from 7000 Lego windows! As part of an exhibition in shipping containers called the Tube by Kolding School of Design, each designer was paired with a manufacturer – Tobias Tostesen must have been really pleased when he got The Lego Group!


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.