As a guest blogger for Philips LightCommunity, I did cover the Milan 2011 Fuorisaloni. That´s what I posted on impressions, trends and the many inspiration sources I found there.

Besides being the experimental, fun and viral place for established brands, Fuorisalone is also, and above all, the home of young, fresh and experimental designers. As I said before, Ventura Lambrate consolidated this year as the cool place to be and to be seen, taking over Tortona’s kingdom of past years. Whereas Tortona has diluted its experimental heritage by hosting more commercial, less conceptually strong propositions over the years, Ventura Lambrate has preserved and even boosted the newness, forefront, fresh feeling that sometimes is hard to find in the well-established Milan.

Exhibitions like the Royal College of Art Design Products department’s show and other initiatives showed young designers increasingly busy with new object meanings and materials experimentations. These new innovations could also be seen at the Eindhoven based Design Academy show, which was absolutely great this year. I was totally blown away by new, never-seen -before concepts such as a repurposed production robot, that became, after a bit of tweaking, a cheap, quick, DIY rapid prototyping tool capable of manufacturing distinctive chairs, or a design-led biological exploration into new microorganisms that will eat, degrade and recycle plastics, just to mention a few nice projects. It could easily take a few posts to fully cover the amount of inspiration brought by those students; since that would take too much space in this blog, perhaps you may want to check the Milan websites of both institutions, RCA and DAE, to have a look into all the exhibited works – totally worth it, I promise.

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That textiles are a source of inspiration and innovation for the new generation of designers was something that stated quite boldly in Milan: exhibitions like “Talking textiles”, by Lidewij Edelkoort (see video below) or Central Saint Martins show brought beautiful tactile and visual experiences. A nice reminder on how light plus textiles is definitely a winning combo for the next years: they are cozy, warm, human and incredibly new.

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No Fuorisalone review can be completed without a mention to Spazio Rossana Orlandi and its top designer objects. If there is something that really makes me inspired in Milan every year is this beautiful atelier: the atmosphere, carefully balanced between the kitsch and the exquisite, is just unbeatable, and a perfect reflection of the Milanese design culture. This not-to-miss location had in show, to my delight, a couple of lighting related objects which showed mastery of material treatment, especially glass (another huge trend seen this year): Trap light is a luminaire that provides a spectral, subtle glow by means of phosphorescent pigments embedded in the blown glass housing; Light tray, on the other hand, revitalizes the Russian doll concepts and applies it to the field of customizable lighting; Screened Daylight is another take on natural-light trompe-l'oeil.

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Photography by the designers

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This is just a summary of the things that I found most inspiring, and relevant, at the Fuorisalone this year. There were a thousand more: the Fuorisalone is always a test to the driven-but-yet-human inspiration seeker as it is impossible to see all what Milan has to offer. But nevertheless, if not all worth to visit, at least it is a great immersion in a city that for one week hosts the most beautiful things.

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