Milan 2013: Wallpaper* Handmade

2013 saw the forth annual celebration of craftsmanship in the form of Wallpaper* Handmade, where designers, craftspeople and manufacturers are brought together and commissioned to create one-off pieces especially for the exhibition.


I loved these table lights, called ‘Bruno’ by Karim Rashid; part of the Love collection made by Verreum.


More lighting from Norwegian designer Oyvind Wyller and Magnor. In Darkness is handblown into a shape that means light is filtered through tinted glass and therefore doesn’t destroy the ambience by being too bright. The cord is neatly integrated into the hanging of the shade.


Shadow by Sebastian Bergne with Verreum is a series of mirrored glass, thermically insulated tableware. Bergne says: “The idea was to use a double glass wall, which looks silvered on the inside, like a 3D mirror. We’ve made it more contemporary by effectively attaching the pieces to their own shadow, which makes them look quite unstable.”


I loved the combination of materials in this Aurora coffee set by Defne Koz and Marco Susani.


Next up was the very organic, barely contained Hogalid sofa designed by Karl-Johan Hjerling and Karin Wallenbeck and made by English furniture maker George Smith. The Swedish designers wanted to represent the craft and heritage of English furniture making, but give it a contemporary twist.


Innovative clothes horses seemed to have been a bit of a trend in Milan this year – this one was designed by Jonah Takagi for Another Country and painted in their signature Pigeon Blue.


My absolute favorite piece from the exhibition was this stone tableware set from Bethan Gray inspired by the striking black and white stone configurations found in historic buildings such as the Amalfi Cathedral and the San Giovanni Battista in Mogno, Switzerland. It’s quite a departure from her current work, so it was really exciting as an example of what can happen when designers are set a brief like this one. The range was made by Lapicida.


This marble installation by Michael Anastassiades and Henraux was inspired by those red cellophane fortune-telling fish you get in Christmas crackers, pushing the technological limits of what’s possible with marble to the limit.


Another favorite was the Mille-Feuille storage units designed by Tokyo-based French architect Emmanuelle Moureaux and made by Schonbuch, “imagined as thin layers of colored sheets scattered in the air, then settling randomly on top of each other”.


Canadian designer Philippe Malouin has been experimenting with architectural materials for some time and worked with Will Yates to create this range of concrete Tupperware-moulded containers. Inspired by London’s brutalist architecture, they have been sandblasted to reveal the aggregate rough finish.


The Re-Imagined Chair by Nina Tolstrup was created in collaboration with Marc by Marc Jacobs.


Klaar Prims essentially draws in glass, creating coloured strings that she weaves and melts together before forming the whole thing over a mold, in this case into a simple bowl as seemingly delicate as spun sugar.


Mathias Kiss drew and painted the marble patterns onto this seat using an old oil technique he learned as an apprentice at the French Guild of Craftsmen and Artisans that dates back to the Middle Ages, Compagnons. The piece was made by Pierre Frey.


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.