Milan Furniture Fair 2010: Stone Houses, Solar Flowers, and More at Interni Think Tank


Rendering of "T-Garden" by Luca Trazzi. Photo via Interni
Philippe Starck -- one of the participants in the FuoriSalone 2010 Interni Think Tank exhibition held at the same time as the Milan Furniture Fair, Salone Internazionale del Mobile 2010 -- is one charismatic guy. He won me over way back in 2004, when I met him personally and watched his speech on the design of a building that included a three-story high giant toilet suddenly develop into a laughter- and tear-filled emotional roller-coaster tirade about love and sex.

So with typical enfant terrible humor, what does he say about this project? "I think to THINK we don't NEED a tank."

Luckily, that did not keep him from participating with the likes of design heavyweights Daniel Libeskind, John Pawson, and Matteo Thun in the (surprisingly) mostly green-focused exhibition -- including a recycled stone house, a glowing garden of LED flowers, garden windmills, and more.Interni, on the other hand, takes themselves a bit more seriously, quoting Francesco Morace:

In the pragmatic English-speaking world, where the concept began, in and around the Second World War, the think tank is an incubator, a platform where themes are shared: social policy, economics, science, technology.

"T-Garden" by Luca Trazzi



"T-Garden" by Luca Trazzi. Photo copyright Mairi Beautyman

The Interni Think Tank is on view through April 30 at the Università degli Studi di Milano, in and on the grounds belonging to a gorgeous old building, that serves as sharp contrast to the avante-garde ideas, including the whimsical T-Garden by Italian designer Luca Trazzi, one of my favorites. A garden of LED flowers located in its own courtyard, T-Garden continuously changes colors, from a pastel green, to a pale pink, to sky blue. While it also looks amazing at night, I caught it at sunset, and discovered the pink of the LEDs matched the sky.

"Revolutionaire" by Philippe Starck

"Revolutionaire" by Philippe Starck. Photo copyright Mairi Beautyman

Starck -- who has not given up on design, as he threatened back in 2008 -- collaborated with Pramac Labs to design a line of wind micro-turbines for his presentation, "RevolutionAir."

Starck goes into greater detail in this video -- doubly recommended because he is so much fun to hear:


Video via YouTube

The turbines are notable for both their high-tech shape and the fact that they can be used in a residential setting.

"Futuropolis" by Daniel Libeskind

"Futuropolis" by Daniel Libeskind. Photo via Interni

It took me a while to find Daniel Libeskind's "Futuropolis" exhibit -- on an upper level balcony which you don't have access to, it doesn't really come alive until the neon-pink lighting shows up at night. Exploring the idea of what defines a city, it's made of 98 wooden elements that Libeskind says are:

absolutely useless and vain, and absolutely inevitable. Like a city that has always to use its origin to create something meaningful, this structure reflects its memories and amnesias in a self-referential, hierarchic and autonomous way.

"House of Stone" by John Pawson



"House of Stone" by John Pawson. Photo copyright Mairi Beautyman

John Pawson's "House of Stone," made entirely of recycled stone, was beautiful -- a serene retreat amongst the other exhibits. I noticed when people stepped in, they stopped talking.


House of Stone by John Pawson. Photo copyright Mairi Beautyman

Pawson describes it as an:

Adissected house archetype [that] permits those who enter to experience the contradiction which exists between the desire for security and the yearning for the infinite.

The Hedgehog by Jean-Michel Wilmotte



"The Hedgehog" by Jean-Michel Wilmotte. Photo copyright Mairi Beautyman

A new take on a living wall or vertical garden, "The Hedgehog" by Jean-Michel Wilmotte is a structure sprouting with potted trees.


The Hedgehog by Jean-Michel Wilmotte. Photo via Interni

Wilmotte says:

[It] is a vegetable and meditative space meant to "lighten" city surroundings by now saturated. At first sight, this massive structure looks a bit threatening, for the vegetable "spines" stick out from a dark grey tower structure rhythmically and geometrically. The installation symbolizes the design world, apparently an indecipherable fortress. However, looking closer, if we get near and enter this "repulsive beast" we find a well-defined territory, earthly and cosy...


The Hedgehog by Jean-Michel Wilmotte. Photo copyright Mairi Beautyman

I'm not sure I'd call it cozy, but I like the way the pots create this unique architectural space inside.

"Just Home" by Paolo Caputo

"Just Home" by Paolo Caputo. Photo copyright Mairi Beautyman

Speaking of cozy, "Just Home", a prefab by Paolo Caputo wasn't exactly that either -- a bit too clinical, a bit too cold. But the transparency of the structure made it glow at night.


"Just Home" by Paolo Caputo. Photo copyright Mairi Beautyman

Caputo says he designed it to be "economical and ergonomical," with an adaptable panel system that can be changed according to need by the user.

"The Wooden Beacons" by Matteo Thun and Conseulo Castiglioni-Marni

"The Wooden Beacons" by Matteo Thun and Conseulo Castiglioni-Marni. Photo via Interni

I wasn't such a big fan of "The Wooden Beacons" by Matteo Thun and Conseulo Castiglioni-Marni. Aesthetically, it just didn't seem to pull it together -- but that said, it

addresses the process of control of the entire life cycle of a product. From the idea to the design and production, all the way to customer service and disposal.

"Smart Grid Gallery" by Jaime Hayon for Enel



"Smart Grid Gallery" by Jaime Hayon. Photo copyright Mairi Beautyman

Jaime Hayon's Smart Grid Gallery was an elaborate showcase of renewable energy: Solar, wind, and nuclear (well...the latter is questionable). Hayon says:

The pavilion is a luminous grid that constantly transforms, creating an aseptic environment but one that is dynamic and enveloping at the same time. The furnishings inside, heterogeneous in terms of form and function, represent the different energy sources and their concatenation: luminous elements power a table whose top is made with photovoltaic panels (solar energy) that, in turn, is connected by colored wires to a cabinet completely covered with small propellers (wind energy) and rotating vases (nuclear energy), all moving with self-produced energy.

I recorded a super short video here.

Mairi Beautyman/CC BY 2.0
The author in "In-Visibile" by DTao. Photo copyright Mairi Beautyman

DTao's "In-Visibile" perhaps sums up some of the lofty ideas in Think Tank -- all aluminum and mirrors, it's meant to represent "an unstable image that establishes a relationship with architecture and reproduces surrounding reality, multiplying infinitely."

It could also be described as a mirrored fun house.

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Tags: Designers | Disposable | Exhibits | Italy

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