Milan is a huge and at times overwhelming event. It’s perhaps no surprise therefore that – in an effort to be recognised above the noise – many brands commission attention grabbing installations in venues throughout the city. However, these works are far more than publicity stunts – they often allow designers the brief (and the budget) to flex those creative muscles.
Here’s a look at some of this year’s most intriguing installation projects.
AGC Asahi Glass
Working with the architect Motosuke Mandai, Japanese glass company Asahi has unveiled a Soundscape – an audio visual installation made using ‘sound generating’ glass.
Sound-generating glass, which is currently under development at AGC, is designed with a special intermediary layer that mitigates the inherent resonance characteristics of glass. This makes it possible to produce clear, steady sounds ranging from high to low, throughout the spectrum of audio frequencies.
“We created a space where time seems to stand still, with a large pane of glass fragmented and dispersed in the air. It is permeated by a sense of transient beauty experienced as, in one short moment, the glass is tensed and ultimately liberated from its structural equilibrium,” explains Mandai. “Only the sounds persist, moving softly as time remains stopped—the sounds of these numerous glass fragments as they recompose themselves into three-dimensional auditory sensations to create a new soundscape. The sound pours down like rainfall, flows through the space like a river, surges forth like waves, forming within the translucent glass-filled space invisible “chambers” of sound.”
Taking over the Cortile dei Bagni courtyard at the University of Milan (once the home of the city’s ancient hospital), Cells is a site-specific installation by the Italian architect Filippo Taidelli that explores the relationship between architecture, technology, and healthcare.
The installation consists of two glass structures or “cells” of equal size but with antithetical formal characteristics, which establish a visual dialogue by placing themselves at opposite corners of the courtyard. They represent the two complementary and apparently antithetical spirits of the healthcare of the future: on the one hand, the focus of interior design on transforming the hospital into a domestic space, on the other hand, the advent of the “virtual healthcare”, the redefinition of the man-machine interface and consequent “dehospitalization”.
Inside the cells are placed two monolithic stone-like structures, which like the wings of a theatre stage offer points of view for contemplating in one case the context and in the other the artificially created natural light. The visual experience is amplified by a sound and olfactory installation. In the virtual cell, a sound dialogue between an avatar and a human and a scent of incense evoke a place of futuristic meditation. In the other, the pungent smell of the Mediterranean maquis and the sound of domestic environments recall the outdoor life, the countryside and the land.
Open to the public for the duration of the festival, the Lexus Design Event – based in Milan’s Leonardo da Vinci Museum of Science and Technology – invites visitors to imagine a world where no one is left in the shadows.
Lexus believes design can be a catalyst for change, empowerment and inclusiveness. It is a powerful force that can transform the ordinary into the extraordinary and reveal that with the concept of “CO-“ – as in co-operation, collaboration and co-existence – the possibilities are limitless.
Each visitor to the Lexus Design Event will pass through a sequence of areas designed as a journey that will enhance the mind and senses.
Clear your Mind
This area is designed to reset visitors’ senses and to clear the mind before the journey. Sound and fragrance mark the passage from the entrance hall, with their ability to create the balance and harmony essential to coexistence. Bergamot, the signature aroma of the event, foretells future experience.
This area is designed to unlock our collective potential. The display of an illuminated sing string is a metaphor for the individual. Visitors will realise that they are an “individual” but that they are among “everyone”.
Prepare your Senses
Tasting prepares you by sharpening the senses. The Bergamot orange is a humble fruit, native to Italy. Alone it is bold and powerful, but when combined with other aromas, its true potential is unlocked. Elements essential to coexistence have the ability to create balance and harmony.
Captured in a simple lollipop, Lexus hopes bergamot, the signature aroma of the event, will heighten visitors’ senses.
Believe in Limitless
The design here is a symbolic expression of “CO-“ as a world of ultimate coexistence.
Built on an imaginative ideology that everyone is the centre of the world. It comprises a visually infinite number of hanging, vertical strings to represent the world’s individuals. Each is illuminated by a single light source, but not one is in shadow, representing how each individual perspective is its own centre. Through the use of technology and innovative design thinking, the seemingly impossible is achieved.
Sota Ichikawa programmed a computer to precisely position the 12,000 strings and control the movement of the laser. The result is a seemingly random light pattern that illuminates the “individual” strings so that they CO-exist in light, yet cast no shadows.
Visitors can find out more about the details of this unique experience and how the seemingly impossible is achieved using technology and innovative design thinking. A video shows how algorithms are used to realise the ideal arrangement that enables the strings to appear without shadow, bringing light to everyone.