Milan Design Week 2017: Wallpaper’s Temple of Divine Design

04.21.17 | By
Milan Design Week 2017: Wallpaper’s Temple of Divine Design

Wallpaper*Handmade is a must-see part of Milan’s annual Salone del Mobile and this year things took a turn for the sacred. The show that Wallpaper* editor-in-chief Tony Chambers describes as a “revelatory roll-out of fine craftsmanship, creativity and contemporary” was housed in the Mediateca Santa Teresa, a deconsecrated church in the Brera design district and the new location inspired the theme “Holy Handmade! A Temple of Divine Design.” In line with many of this year’s best installations, it certainly provided a moment of calm amidst the chaos, particularly in the case of Marc Ange’s Le Refuge (above).

Outside the entrance, the Volcanic Altar by Sabine Marcelis and Danish-Italian tile manufacturer Made a Mano is made of a glazed lava stone that appears to float on a glass structure. “An altar is a sacred place that brings us closer to the divine,” says NanaKi Bonfils of Made a Mano. “Altars transform actions of everyday life into actions of hope, despair and love.”

American-born, London-based jeweler Jacqueline Rabun designed the Trinity of Boxes, three egg-shaped containers cast in solid brass, as an “introverted response” to current world affairs – the idea came from a conversation on the day of the inauguration of US President Donald Trump. The boxes were handcrafted by fourth-generation Viennese metal workshop Werkstätte Carl Auböck.

The Rising Sun Tea Cart is the result of a collaboration between architect Isabelle Stanislas and copper cookware brand Mauviel. The piece combines the ancient ritual of Japanese tea ceremonies with the 1970s must-have hostess trolley. Mauviel brought one of their master craftsmen out of retirement to mold the copper and mirrored stainless steel form.

The Wabi-Sabi Tea kit by Italian designer Pietro Russo comes with its own blend of Ambient Teas – London Sun and High Green – by Tim d’Offray of Postcard Teas, made for pairing with fine foods, and therefore served in glasses handblown from borosilicate glass by Ichendorf’s craftsmen.

Another piece designed to help you seek refuge was less about creating rituals and more about breaking habits. Airplane Mode Vessel, by San Francisco-based creative agency Branch and Californian design and fabrication studio Concrete Works, provides a barrier for your phone’s signal and muffles its sound, while its size, weight and tactile surface add weight to the process of disconnection.

The Worshipful Wardrobe elevates clothes and accessories to the status of museum exhibits and celebrates the ritual of getting dressed each morning. Designed by Paris-based fashion designer Paul Helbers and made by UK fitted furniture brand Smallbone, it was inspired by the unconventional materials used in British brutalist church moldings.

London-based Lebanese furniture and product designer Karen Chekerdjian uses a square, a triangle and a circle in her infinity table, made by Italian terrazzo company Grandinetti to channel the idea of spirituality, inspired by paintings of the universe by Zen monk Sengai.

The Veil by Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec was made in India by more than ten of Lesage Intérieurs’ craftsmen working simultaneously for over 1,000 hours. “Embroidery is an amazing language full of diverse expression and manner,” say the French brothers. “In a way, it’s like the origin of pixels with each point making a part of the picture while also conveying its own weight and magic.”

Every church needs a font, and this one got the two-level indoor Monolithic Font designed by Tino Seubert and hand carved out of solid blocks of Roman Travertine by Pibamarmi.

And finally, Kronolisk is a primitive clock inspired by the ritualistic objects of early civilizations. Interior architecture and furniture design studio State of Craft worked with automotive engineering firm Ilmor to create the meditative object, which was 3D printed in nylon as a prototype for a high-grade aluminum alloy form.

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.