Monday, April 14, 2014


As professionals, design is a subject of interest to architects and interior designers. So the Triennale Design Museum is an unmissable part of the itinerary at the Milan Fair. Located inside the Palace of Art building, the Triennale allows visitors to explore excellence in design through various points of view, and every year, the museum changes the topics covered, renewing and transforming itself.

At Simply Sofas, we're especially interested in how design combines the disciplines of science and art, because this is vital to any good piece of furniture. Comfort, ergonomics and quality demand years of scientific research and testing, while finesse, beauty and craftsmanship call for an artistic ability above the ordinary. And so, although often outside the realm of furniture, the displays at the Triennale have much from which to learn and draw inspiration.

One such exhibit that combined art and science was the 'Coffee Drop' installation by Italian coffee brand illy. The exhibit featured a single drop of pure coffee, suspended in mid-air. Created for Illy by UK artist Alistair McClymont, the work represents the perfect balance of fine coffee.

To achieve this feat of suspending a droplet of coffee in mid-air, McClymont engineered a vertical wind tunnel, based on an early 1970's design. Using wood, fibreglass, steel mesh, fan, and special aluminium honeycomb, the wind tunnel was perfected through a year long process of R&D, to finally arrive at a setup with a laminar airflow so smooth, that it could keep a droplet hovering.

All of this advanced engineering that created the beautiful sight of a coffee droplet suspended in mid-air, was then combined with a piece of music written for illy by world-renowned composer, Ludovico Einaudi. Made out of 9 tunes, the music represent the 9 aromas of coffee - caramel, chocolate, toasted bread, floral, fruit, smoked, sweet, bitter and sour. Each tune can be enjoyed individually, or they can be combined together in a symphony. Art, science and design, combined at their very best.

Here are some of the other interesting works of design from around Milan and the Triennale.

80,000 watch parts (above)! That's the number of "base-plates" (the structural device that supports all of a watch's components) that come together to transform space in Citizen's 'Light is Time' installation at the Triennale. Developed jointly by Tsuyoshi Tane and Citizen's in-house Design Team. Perhaps the most sensory experience at Milan Design Week - a visual spectacle like no other.

One theme explored at the Triennale's Design Week was the impact of the global economic slowdown on creativity and design. Interestingly, creators everywhere are of the opinion that the restrictions of the current economic climate have only served to strengthen imagination and creativity. A special exhibition at the museum brought into focus this dialogue between past and present, reflecting the concerns of the Italian design industry today. Product design, furniture and fashion were all part of this exciting and unique display.

Gio Ponti was among the most influential architects of the 20th century, renowned for his endeavours to combine art and architecture. Ponti designed many famous buildings around the world, including the Pirelli Tower and the Denver Art Museum. His brilliance was remembered at the Design Week through a display that showcased some of his interesting creations (above).

Another novel idea was Italian architectural firm, Studio Dodici's 'Barrel12' concept. Described as an amalgamation of ethical idea of recycling and the poetry of transformation, this concept transforms a barrel into a customised, multifunctional storage space. As Francesca Cutini and Pierangela Crosti explain, this is not just about reclamation, but also about craftsmanship that renders every object unique and original.
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