Milan 2014: Best of Brera Design District

Milan’s Brera Design District has a manifesto: “To know and promote the history of design in order to understand the contemporary period and design the future.” Quoting architecture critic Sigfried Giedion, they say, “We are the ‘astronomers of history.’ The historian cannot trace the course of events like the astronomer. But the two have a point in common: the continual emergence of new constellations and previously invisible worlds. And, like the astronomer, the historian must remain permanently at his observation point.” So from my observation point in Brera, this is what I saw…


Spokes, designed by creative couple Vicente Garcia Jimenez and Cinzia Cumini for Foscarini, was inspired by a bicycle wheel. It’s a prototype at the moment, and Foscarini hopes to launch the real thing during Milan Design Week 2015.


Spotted at the somewhat clunkily titled “Swedish Design Goes Milan In Real Life” The Swarm Light by Swedish design studio Jangir Maddadi looks like a heavy-headed creature in mid-flight. “We take risks, breathing life into the quotidian, mundane objects of our world,” said the designer. They can be bought singly or in ‘swarms’ of three or five.


In the same space, Stockholm-based design brand Ready-Made launched their first collection, which included Bordet “From the Block.”


Bouy by Agnes Fries were inspired by fishing floats, and came to life during her first trip to China, where “the technique of painting porcelain truly is mastered.”


Mary is a collaboration between Swedish designer Nina Jobs and Stockholm contemporary art center Bonniers Konsthall. The small handmade table with a pleated skirt in a non-woven textile is informed by Scandinavian traditional woodwork combined with custom-fitted clothing details.


Oscar Lind Modin’s Solstice is a collection of three lampshades, that can be used as table lamps and as pendants, and were inspired by organic shapes and by the sun’s movement across the sky. “Working as a designer gives me the freedom to explore. What drives me is the will to follow as much of the design process as possible. It is a thrill to see an idea take shape and evolve. Sometimes into furniture and textiles, and sometimes into things completely unexpected,” says the designer.


A short walk away, the Hay / Wrong for Hay space was one of the highlights of the week. Nathalie du Pasquier’s textiles clearly show Sebastian Wrong’s intentions for Wrong for Hay, the recently launched London-based arm of the Danish brand.


Hay staples Scholten & Baijings were launching the Dot Chair…


…and the Paper Porcelain collection. The latter is a faithful replica of the paper models they construct during the design process, right down to the color of the tape that holds the cardboard sections in place.


And finally, Lee Broom’s On The Rock collection, which combines delicate lead crystal with solid Carrara marble, launched at the SupperScene pop-up restaurant in Spazio Pontaccio’s showroom.

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.