milano salone 2013


It’s that time of year again for Milano Salone, where the world’s top designers present impeccable, minimalist works that I would probably never consider putting in my home. Now in its 52nd year, the organization refers to itself as “the global benchmark for the Home Furnishing Sector.” But not everyone agrees. In recent years an increase in commercial shindigs and promotional events staged by cash-rich banks and car-makers prompted British designer Jasper Morrison to suggest that Salone del Mobile be renamed “Salone del Marketing.”

Whatever you decide to call it, last year was a big year for Japanese design. Akihisa Hirata, a rising star in architecture and protégé of recent Pritzker prize winner Toyo Ito, took home the Elita Design Award for his installation of solar panels. And staying consistent with the high-tech theme, Nendo designed a series of 3D-printed lacquered paper objects. This year we’re already seeing glimpses of high-tech design 2.0 (more on that below), but also a return to the minimal furniture pieces that the fair is more conventionally known for.

This week we’ll be showcasing various projects by Japanese designers, all of which will be cataloged here. You can also check out our full coverage of last year’s fair right here.


Energetic Energies – Akihisa Hirata’s 30-meter energy landscape

Electronic giant Panasonic has once again tapped Akihisa Hirata to design an installation that incorporates their future energy solutions. This year Hirata is staging a 30-meter “energy landscape” made from hundreds of small cubic solar panels. Improving on his design from last year, Hirata has opted for smaller solar-panel modules randomly arranged to simulate leaves on a tree, rather than in a pane. “The sun moves from east to west, with its angle relative to earth constantly changing. That’s why plants grow their branches and leaves in so many different directions,” exclaimed Hirata, arguing that we must rethink the way we deploy solar panels.


130327con02Deploying solar-panel modules instead of an entire solar panel

130327con03On the left, Hirata’s installation from last year. On the right, a new city-wide approach that learns from nature

Now that the piece has been installed, here are some pictures of what it looks like:

panasonice03photos by Santi Caleca | click to enlarge