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ALCOVA Milan Design Week 2023
The word 'Alcova' might be misleading at first, it stands in stark contrast to the true essence of the event it represents.
ALCOVA Milan Design Week 2023

As it typically means a small section of a room formed by part of the wall being set back. This term doesn't accurately convey the actual size of the event that took place during Milan Design Week. Alcova location at the Ex-Macello di Porta Vittoria was showcasing over 90 designers in a vast abandoned space of a former slaughterhouse and poultry and rabbit market.

The event brought together a significant amount of individuals with varying backgrounds, and experiences. From fresh, startup model brands to researched lab-based approaches, well established product brands and gallery art objects. It was not easy to digest such a huge amount of visual stimulation, but the event offered an opportunity to highlight those that really caught the attention of the visitors. This year's event was a testament to the vast array of design talent in the world, and the different approaches taken by designers to create unique and inspiring pieces.

NM3 Bürocore project.

Milan-based design studio NM3 has caught our eye with their latest project, Bürocore. The installation features a collection of functional objects that blur the line between work and home life, drawing inspiration from Hannes Meyer's "Co-op Interieur". Rejecting corporate coziness, NM3 celebrates computational schematism in this thoughtful and serious design. The studio has a strong focus on raw materials and geometric precision, often utilizing common industrial elements and techniques to create unique forms and compositions that highlight their potential for abstraction. Bürocore is a testament to NM3's dedication to creating functional and thought-provoking designs.

Sober Details of Bürocore Table.

Agglomerati, founded by Sam Henley, is an innovative design company with a name derived from "agglomeration." The name represents the company's vision of bringing together various disciplines of design to create unique and impactful solutions, specializing in working with different types of stones. Although working with stones presents material limitations, it also brings diversity as Sam carefully selects the designers he collaborates with.

Cor collection consists of 6 massive stone objects made from Roman travertine.

One example of their work is the Cor collection, a collaboration between Agglomerati and Tom Fereday. This collection is a testament to their commitment to creating visually compelling designs infused with deeper meaning and purpose. Comprising six monolithic sculptures made from Roman travertine stone, each sculpture is distinguished by its unique height and features a piercing aperture, showcasing a harmonious blend of material innovation and natural stone machining. The name 'Cor' is derived from the Latin term for 'heart' and is inspired by the idea of the earth as a living organism.

Cor collection by Tom Fereday for Agglomerati.

SENSBIOM is an interdisciplinary project between crafting plastics! Studio and DumoLab Research, exploring the possibilities of biochemically-augmented, environmentally-active biomaterials to map new relationships between humans and the changing environment. The project's centerpiece is a collection of biopolymer lattices that change color in response to real-time changes in Milan's solar radiation, heightening visitors' awareness of the invisible threats caused by UVR exposure. SENSBIOM raises important questions about the impact of ecologically-active bio-composites on human and non-human health, the relationship between biomaterials and nature, and the effects of climate change on our environment. The project was made possible through the generous support of crafting plastics! Studio and DumoLab Research, with additional funding from the Slovak University of Technology in Bratislava and the University Research Foundation at Penn.

SENSBIOM, an interdisciplinary project between crafting plastics! Studio and DumoLab Research.

French designer Aurélien Veyrat brought a renewed sense of poetry to archaic materials with his exhibition at Alcova. His architectural sculptures, made using leftover stones from construction sites, embody a powerful confrontation between past and future, low-tech and high-tech, industry and craftsmanship. Veyrat's work highlights the enduring beauty and sustainability of humble materials.

Aurélien Veyra's gigantic sculptures at the backyards of ALCOVA.

In his presentation at Alcova, Cegniz Hartman showcased a selection of raw and natural wooden objects, each one hand-curved to reveal the artist's movements in the surface. Through the natural cracks that gently connect with a wooden clin, the objects embody a poetic essence that speaks to Hartman's belief in reducing objects to their essential elements. The German word "begreifen" guides his work, which means both to touch and to understand - and he thinks with his hands to create something exciting and new. Hartman's minimalist approach involves limiting his tools to create objects with a specific expression, while experimentation remains an integral part of his creative process.

Cegniz Hartman's selection of raw and natural wooden objects.

Yuma Kano and Sho Ota were showcasing their latest exhibition, 'TOUCH WOOD,' where they merge their individual techniques of collecting and cutting wood. Yuma's 'ForestBank' material is made by binding previously overlooked forest materials with water-based acrylic resin, while Sho collaborates with furniture factories and workshops in the Netherlands to create his 'Surfaced' series, revealing the charm of wood through its unique grain and nodes. Together, the designers pursue a singular expression that can't be replicated through mass production, elevating the value of sustainable materials in the process.

Yuma Kano and Sho Ota and their latest exhibition, 'TOUCH WOOD'.

Ryuichi Kozeki's lamp design at Alcova was a perfect example of his unique approach to aesthetics. The Japanese designer is all about finding the right balance between tension, proportion, and simplicity, and this lamp is a beautiful embodiment of his philosophy. It features a diagonal line that passes through a hollow space, creating a striking visual effect that boldly divides the space. The object's massive weight keeps it firmly in place, providing a perfect counterpoint to the delicate line.

Ryuichi Kozeki's lamp design at Alcova.

Design studio Ae Office showcased their latest exhibition 'Unearthed Island' exploring the unique volcanic stone culture of Jeju Island, South Korea. The studio has been collecting stories surrounding the culture of a volcanic island for the past two years and together with Jeju iiin, introduced two series of collections that use stone culture as a material. The first features handcrafted objects using the traditional earthenware technique called “Jeju Onggi”. The second showcases stools resembling Jeju stonewalls, each telling three different stories about basalt stone walls piled up for various purposes. Ae Office aims to expand their identity by creating new solutions for brands who share their dedication, testing rules and tools of objects through cross-cultural referencing.

Unearthed Island by Ae Office

Lina Chi, a recent graduate from Design Academy Eindhoven, caught our eye with her unique and playful furniture designs at Alcova. Her collection, named 'Linoleum', showcases the potential of this biodegradable material made from natural components such as cork, wood dust, and limestone. By using single sheets of linoleum and exploring the material's curvy and quirky qualities, Chi is able to give it a new identity and push the boundaries of what is possible. Her designs are a refreshing take on an often-overlooked material and offer a glimpse into the innovative future of sustainable design.

'Linoleum' by Lina Chi.

Mexican design Studio David Pompa has unveiled their latest installation, "Stone Archive". The centerpiece of the exhibit features the studio's new collection of "Ambra Toba" light sculptures, made using a unique volcanic stone called "Toba volcánica" that was ejected during severe eruptions one million years ago. The ancient stones are combined with aluminum to create a striking aesthetic that reflects the studio's research-based process and investigation.

The archival shelves are filled with stones, folders, and prototypes, providing a glimpse into the design evolution of the light sculptures.

The installation showcases the studio's deep appreciation for the science, aesthetics, culture, and materiality of ancient stones. Collaborations with esteemed partners, including the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM) and Dutch microphotographer Wim van Egmond, are also featured in the exhibit, further highlighting the evolution of the light sculptures and their connection to ancient stones.

Installation of 'Stone Archives' by Studio David Pompa.

The archival shelves within the installation are filled with stones, folders, and prototypes, providing a glimpse into the design evolution of the light sculptures and the studio's meticulous process. "Stone Archive" is a powerful testament to the beauty and value of ancient materials, brought to life through the visionary creativity of Studio David Pompa.

David Pompa has unveiled their latest installation, "Stone Archive," at Milan's Alcova event.

General Object Store is the brainchild of American designer Shane Schneck, known for his work with Office for Design in Stockholm and his penchant for creating simple yet innovative products that challenge the industry. At Alcova, the brand showcased its first designs in the industrial spaces, demonstrating a keen eye for bold colors, playful forms, and unexpected functionality. Schneck's work has earned him international recognition and multiple design awards, and General Object Store looks set to continue his legacy with its unique and captivating creations.

General Object Store, the brainchild of American designer Shane Schneck.

The Alcova event demonstrates the natural progression of small ideas expanding into something much larger over time. Although there may be boundaries to this growth, Alcova still provides a vast and somewhat disorganized space that encompasses various contrasts and a slightly unclear vision. Amidst this confusion, it serves as a vital platform for discovering inspiring creations from up-and-coming talents. The appeal of Alcova lies in its ability to surprise and engage visitors, even while embracing its own contrasting nature. —

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Thisispaper Magazine
A book of stories about thinkers and makers.
In this publication we have collected stories from the designers and artists that inspire us with their creativity and skill. Whether working in fashion, design, photography or architecture, they share the commitment to process and have a strong, personal voice.

How do you create an inspiring workplace? How does the space we work in influence our health? Can the workspace boost your creativity and well-being? To answer these questions we reached out to experts in the field.
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