April 23, 2015
For a powerful dose of creativity, aesthetics, and raw energy, look to Milan. Milan reigns over my world of design not with volume but authenticity and refinement. A good example is the just-concluded 54th Annual Milan Design Week (Apr 14-19, 2015). This trade show and related festivities is a panorama that knows few limits. Dwarfing NAHBS (no insult there) at 2.5 million sq ft, 2300 exhibitors (from royalty to students), nearly 300,000 attendees from 150 countries.
Tapestry, nature, show time. Image from Designboom.
One highly publicized exhibit was a collaboration between fashion designer Antonio Marras and Segno Italiano entitled “Il Sentiero dei Nidid di Ragno” (the nest of spiders). A crazy array of intricate handcrafted objects among accessories, decorations, and furniture. A dizzying assembly of birds nests, woven strands of colored fabric, and baskets made by traditional artisans from the south of Sardinia (Marra’s home). River cane, myrtle, olive, willow with fanciful fabric patterns intertwine.
Of course, as a wheel builder and lover I noticed other details first.
The exhibit is organized around a giant wheel but actual wire spoked bicycle wheels form a background. That ubiquitous (especially in Italy) visual treat blends and supports so well the woven, textile tradition with which the exhibit plays.
Wheels hover weightlessly. Image from Designboom.
My go-to source of design energy is Designboom. I’ll bet many of you frequent this panorama of architecture, machinery, furniture, and all things creative and festive. Get their free daily update .
Milan Design Week also featured cycling specific exhibits. Matteo Zugnoni debuted his wooden woobi bike.
Comfort, strength, beauty, originality, green (sic). Image: Matteo Zugnoni.
On the subject of design inspiration, please check yet another (see last post) Czech original. By Bikejan, an amazing illustration of the versatility of wood in the hands of masters of materials and function. Frame weighs just 3.6kg and should be fabulous to ride or admire.
Maple and tasty. What an age of design we share.
Why design babble? The bicycle is as common as furniture but it can be switched around. You can make your own. We are ALL bike designers. Lofty Pinarello’s and Colnago’s create in lavish studios and enjoy celebrity customers. Giant and Specialized employ mega technology and resources, pushing the limits.
You and I are designers, too. Your bike is very much your own. You’d spot it from the crowd, no doubt. Even the most random or worn out bikes have a purpose: to meet a budget, to lay low in public, etc.. If you haven’t lately checked, re-discover wabi-sabi, the Japanese tradition that values the worn, impermanent, humble, and imperfect.
Bicycles can meet so many needs in such abandoned or enlightened condition. That’s an inspiration that keeps on giving.
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