The superb exhibition “Design Switzerland’s Living Spaces” that the Swiss Arts Council Pro Helvetia organized on the occasion of Milan Design Week sums up all the themes that currently dominate the research scene today: inclusiveness , respect for the planet and our local communities, sustainability, equality and age revitalization. ancient traditions. The exhibition highlighted a total of nine young Swiss-based designers and companies and their carefully tested prototypes in the field of interior design, carefully selected by a jury consisting of designer Laetitia De Allegri paired with the entrepreneur and expert in the creative sector, Damon Bonser. A certain consistency with the principles guiding the selection was also reflected in the scenography of the exhibition itself, located on the ground floor of the Casa degli Artisti in Brera and designed by Studio iiode, deliberately made from lightweight materials: structural cardboard modules for the sectors dedicated to each project and a white inflatable tubular serpentine fixed to the ceiling, effectively connecting and characterizing the long exhibition hall.
Studio Eidola, for example, has tackled the subject of materials with a research called “Ocean Articulated”, in which salt and sand mined from the Swiss region of the Upper Rhine – a region that hosts the deposits of an ocean prehistoric and glacial erosion – turn into a temporary but durable furnishing material. The two raw materials are combined into a recyclable structural mixture which, worked by means of a simple technique and with only minimal equipment, can be molded into objects such as tables and stools, but also tiles, all characterized by a rough and raw surface with an incredibly natural effect.
Noemi Niederhauser – also inspired by nature, but this time through the prism of food waste – presented her research project ‘Waste Matter’: malt residues from Lausanne breweries were combined with an organic protein in order to produce a material similar to plywood which can be used for furniture or panels. In doing so, she showed how this humble by-product of the food industry can offer an alternative to using wood.
Other prototypes seen in Design Switzerland’s living spaces focused on the versatility of furniture, in line with the increasingly nomadic lifestyle favored by today’s younger generations. This is the case, for example, of Tricentro: a table base designed by Salienti, a studio founded in Zurich by young designers Walter Toccaceli and Matteo Messinese. The idea is as simple as it is clever and was born from an interesting thought: the table is a truly essential part of any living space, but it is often cumbersome and inflexible. So why not create a light and collapsible base that is easy to store, but at the same time strong and reconfigurable? Tricentro provides an answer to all these burning problems: three tubular steel elements – connected by a joint but fully adjustable – serve as legs on one side and supports on the other, accommodating any type of table top (but preferably heavy). Thanks to the articulation, these three elements can take different configurations, while maintaining the general balance, or fold flat to minimize their size. Tricentro is durable, transportable and functional when it comes to the issues of limited space in the home and the need for variable configurations, including in catering and catering environments.
Another fully conformable and extendable piece of furniture is the Mingle stool by designer Shizuka Saito, who studied interior architecture at the Head-Haute École d’Art et de Design in Geneva, the city where she now has her practice. Mingle includes an extendable grid fixed to tubular legs: in its smallest form it is a single-seater stool, but it can also be extended to become a bench of the size desired by the user.
Vervig, on the other hand – a design studio also based in Geneva, directed by Luca Gorissé – presented at the Half Forgotten exhibition, a prototype of a space divider in hand-woven carbon fiber, using the techniques of weaving rattan from one of the last craftsmen in Switzerland able to pass them on to future generations. In addition to preserving centuries-old manual techniques, Half Forgotten also responds to the need to create temporary and modular separations in domestic spaces with a light but resistant object that is also aesthetic; among other things, it can be used to delimit leisure and relaxation areas, physically separating them from home work spaces.
Captions and Credits
The images come from the nine projects presented in the exhibition “Design Switzerland’s Living Spaces”, organized by the Swiss Council of Culture Pro Helvetia at the Casa Degli Artisti in the Brera district of Milan during the FuoriSalone 2022. Installation by the iode studio. Courtesy of Pro Helvetia.
01 Studio Eidola, Ocean Articulated, a natural material made from salt and sand that can be used to make furniture and upholstery, photo by Julia Ishac
02, 03, 11 Designing the living spaces of Switzerland, photos by Alessandro Saletta – Dsl Studio
04 Studio Eidola, Articulated Ocean, photo by Alessandro Saletta – Dsl Studio
05 Noemi Niederhauser, Waste Matter, a research project investigating the reuse of waste malt from breweries.
06 Salienti, Tricentro, foldable table leg system
07 Shizuka Saito, Mingle extendable stool, photo by Alessandro Saletta – Dsl Studio
08 Vevig, Half Forgotten, Prototype Handwoven Carbon Fiber Partition Wall
09 Sébastien El Idrissi, MCR1 roaster prototype, developed in collaboration with Mikafi
10 Shizuka Saito, Mingle Extendable Stool
12 Renaud Defrancesco Studio, Spot, floor lamp and table lamp in recycled aluminum
13 Mark Gerber Design, Conte armchair, durable and repairable, it is made with local materials and by local artisans.
14 Alexandra Gerber Studio, Untitled, innovative framing system for artworks and photographs