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Superdesign Show 2024: 3D-printed Furniture, Innovative Materials, and a One-room House

Superdesign Show 2024: 3D-printed Furniture, Innovative Materials, and a One-room House
Superdesign Show Milan 2024. Courtesy of the organizers.

This year’s edition of Superdesign Show, under the theme “Think Different”, pushed participants to think outside the box. Here are a few of our favorite takeaways from the event.

Milan‘s iconic Superdesign Show concluded its 2024 edition last week, leaving in its wake a trail of inspiration, innovation, and reflection on the future of design. Held at Superstudio Piu on via Tortona, 27, the event unfolded from April 15 to 21 under the theme “Thinking Different: everything, everywhere, everyone,” beckoning designers, enthusiasts, and industry players alike to explore novel perspectives and challenge conventional norms.

With participants from 11 nations spanning three continents, the Superdesign Show once again solidified its status as a global epicenter for design trends and forward-thinking concepts. Over 80 companies came together to present nearly 40 cutting-edge projects, marking the event as an unmissable convergence of creativity and vision.

Robotic Manufacturing with PIXOM: 3D-printed Furniture

One of the standout features of this year’s show was the exploration of 3D printing in furniture design, exemplified by PIXOM, a Portuguese company spearheaded by Armando Alvese Le Brimet. Under the mantra of “Turning Pixels into Atoms,” PIXOM showcased a collection of furniture and lighting objects crafted through a fusion of digital technology, generative design, artificial intelligence, and sustainable materials.

“We are turning pixels into atoms, creating extraordinary and sustainable objects designed by humans and manufactured by robotic arms.”

The transformative power of digital 3D printing was on full display as abstract concepts materialized into tangible forms with just a click. The seamless integration of digital and physical realms heralds a new era in design, where creativity knows no bounds and innovation knows no limits.

Courtesy of PIXOM
Courtesy of PIXOM

Materially Now: Creativity and Sustainability

Materially Now, once a humble Material Village in 2014, has evolved into an independent consultancy firm dedicated to enhancing sustainability, creativity, and aesthetics in collaboration with manufacturing companies. We’ve selected a few to highlight for you here.

Anemotech displayed The Breath, a textile material that absorbs dust from the air. It’s the first zero-impact fabric that doesn’t require a power source to be activated. After more than three years of study, Anemotech researchers developed the fabric for indoor and outdoor areas as well as for the automotive industry, childcare, and the fashion sector.

For the first time, two highly innovative Korean startups are bringing their materials, rooted in very different research approaches, to Milan Design Week. A Hyundai Motor Group spin-off startup “Mycel Project” designs biomanufacturing reflecting recollecting and circulating through biomimicry by leveraging physiological, biochemical, and physical traits of fungi and mushrooms, as well as developing and producing diverse bio-materials. Their range of biomaterials is enriching the range of uses of mycelium in many areas, from automotive to fashion accessories.

Favini exhibited its papers that integrate cocoa bean waste. Favini utilizes the skin of cocoa beans as a by-product in the production of Crush paper, micronizing it at their factory to replace up to 15% of virgin cellulose. This practice aligns with the principles of the circular economy, allowing for the transformation of waste into a high-quality raw material for paper production within their Crush range.

Through panel discussions and interactive sessions, Materially Now delved into the unique properties of various materials, shedding light on their innovative applications and environmental impact. Themes such as Aim Net Zero, Nature in Lab, and Impact by Industry underscored the firm’s commitment to driving sustainable innovation within the design landscape.

Conversing with Walls by Ren Kawasaki

Ren Kawasaki’s house installation offered a contemplative journey into the past, present, and future of domestic environments. Drawing inspiration from Tokyo Design Week and the Able Space Design Competition, Kawasaki’s exhibit showcased architectural models and visions of living spaces, inviting viewers to ponder the intersection of tradition and innovation. The full-scale exhibition room of 24m² per room earned the Grand Prix during the Japan Design Week and was selected for the Milan Design Week.

“Our goal was to create a new quality of a one-room apartment where the charms of both exist in symbiosis. What we call the function of daily life is only possible when there are things and the space around them for people. In this proposal, small margins are gathered inside the room, and the other is contained in a thick wall. Another room is created in the center. This is an exclusive place where all the functions of daily life are half-crowded and mixed together. The concept of inside and outside sprouted in the one-room space, and the blank space in the center became a courtyard that could be freely used in different ways by the residents,” as stated by Ren Kawasaki on the side of the installation.

From the minimalist elegance of Japanese studio apartments to the imaginative creations of primary school children envisioning the cities of tomorrow, Conversing with Walls sparked conversations about the evolving nature of home and community.

Conversing with Walls by Ren Kawasaki. Courtesy of Tokyo Company.
Conversing with Walls by Ren Kawasaki. Courtesy of Tokyo Company.

Milan x New York: Bridging Continents through Design

In a testament to its global reach, the Superdesign Show forged a collaboration with ICFF New York, laying the groundwork for a cross-promotional partnership aimed at showcasing the best of contemporary design from Milan to New York and beyond. This initiative seeks to foster dialogue and exchange between two of the world’s design capitals, highlighting the role of education in shaping the next generation of designers.

Through international panels and discussions, industry experts from esteemed institutions such as Istituto Marangoni Milano, SDA Bocconi School of Management, Savannah College of Art and Design, and Jönköping University explored the transformative power of design education in shaping the future of the industry.

As the curtains close on another successful edition of the Superdesign Show, the echoes of innovation and creativity continue to reverberate, paving the way for a future where design knows no boundaries and imagination knows no limits.

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