Just before the opening of the Milan Design Week last month, the designer Hella Jongerius, one of the most famous and important designers in the world, published a communiqué summoning the design world “to abandon the obsession with the pursuit of the New. She named the manifesto Beyond the New, which became one of the mostly discussed topics among designers during the design week, dealing with the meaning of “New” in an era where it seems as if everything has been done.
Indeed, it was interesting to see what strategies are employed by design companies in an attempt to highlight their collections and new products. The fact that the World economic crisis that erupted in 2008 prevents investment in new product development on the scale common in the past did not stop them from labelling products as ‘new’ even
Another strategy that characterizes the design world in recent years is the return to the known, the classic and the designers of the past. For example, Vitra introduced a limited edition of Office Furniture designed by Jean Prouvé along with an updated colour
scheme for the classic Eames chairs. Kartell introduced items designed by Ettore Sottsass in 2004, three years before his death, and the company’s flagship store in the city centre was modelled in the spirit of Memphis Group, including some furniture designed for the company by Philippe Starck, Patricia Urquiola and Piero Lissoni getting some new upholstery. Cassina honoured Le Corbusier’s 50th death anniversary with items designed by Jaime Hayon inspired by famous buildings and icons of the late architect, while moooi introduced a new Marcel Wenders chair inspired by Piet Mondrian paintings and Gerrit Rietveld’s chairs.
On the other hand, there are companies that consider innovation and design to be the superior value, and combine the historical with the innovative. Consequently, even when Kartell makes a gesture honouring the Memphis group, a visit to the company’s historical museum reopened last month, shows how Kartell had been stretching the limits of plastic material over the years. For example, the new PIUMA chair by Piero Lissoni. The chair is made of a thermoplastic compound reinforced with different materials from various industries, such as the automotive and aeronautics industry, including carbon fibre. The strength of the compound is in its ability to provide the chair with structural strength at the lowest weight: a two millimetres thick seat, with the weight of the entire chair only 4.85 pounds.
In recent years, CAESARSTONE has been presenting a variety of projects by international designers stretching the material boundaries in their conceptual exhibits. For instance, during the Design Week in Milano, Philippe Malouin’s exhibit examined how unexpected use of quartz surfaces with various processing techniques created unique textures. Another innovation originated by the company’s new collections, offering for the third consecutive year models that are characterized by veins and arteries inspired by natural elements and natural stones such as the Calcutta stone and the Statuario stone.
The new concrete models; 4001, 4004 and 4003, launched late last year, are another example of material innovation. The design family provides an interpretation to the industrial trend, quite popular in the design world in recent years. In addition to addressing the trend, the innovation is in the opportunity of having an industrial look
in various spaces around the house, without having to deal with the technical difficulties inherent in the original material – the concrete, which tends to crack and absorb stains.
In addition, the company is striving to innovate in the field of complementary products to the surfaces it offers. Recently, it has expanded its line of products with quartz sinks taking the material properties a step further. Design of sinks was a door opener to innovation in kitchen design, as it suggests breaking the tradition by sink and surface having different colours.