Monocle

Monocle Weekend
Edition: Saturday

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The Opener / Andrew Tuck

Chairs and graces

Chairs and graces

Last Sunday afternoon I flew to Milan to join the crew covering Milan Design Week. In the morning, however, I just had time to tackle a domestic task: removing a large, deceased jasmine from its pot on the roof terrace (a newer, alive one, was waiting to take its place). But, like a hermit crab in a shell, it did not want to leave its snug abode. There was an internal lip on the pot that also made removal irksome. At one point I found myself rolling around on the terrace – pot gripped between my legs, dead jasmine stump in my mitts – in a very unseemly sumo-style wrestling match. Then it finally gave in and popped out – and so did my back. When I went to stand up, it took several attempts to straighten myself out. Being heroic, I made it to Milan but as I traversed the airport’s concourse, I was grateful for the support provided by the extended handle on my suitcase.There are a lot of great parties, fun exhibitions and, yes, new chairs at Salone but designers – the good ones – also find themselves tackling issues of our time. How and what we consume, how to make spaces that engender social interaction, how to create circular-manufacturing processes are all the responsibilities of today’s designers. And, hopefully, making some things that we can simply file under “gorgeous”.Arriving at my hotel in Milan, I just had time to ditch my steadying luggage before joining my colleague, Nic Monisse, at a dinner hosted by Design Holding, which owns an impeccable portfolio of brands including B&B Italia, Flos and Louis Poulsen. I had good table neighbours. On one side was a celebrated designer and we talked about a chair that his company designed for use in schools. It’s devised to be comfortable, of course, but also has a modest rocking motion that has been shown to aid concentration – a chair that subtly makes it more likely that children will focus, learn, stay seated.At the start of this week in Milan, we hosted a series of talks with Swiss appliances manufacturer V-Zug in the vast library of the Pinacoteca di Brera. I was impressed by the robustness of the panellists’ thinking, their pioneering attitudes, the responsibility that they felt to make beautiful pieces that changed lives for the better. Philippe Malouin spoke out against trends, Sabine Marcelis talked about how she created solar-powered installations that allow her studio to be totally off-grid and architect David Thulstrup pushed for design that lasts. Hosts V-Zug explained how they were running pilot programmes to make the company fully circular (no glues and materials returned to their original producers for reuse). It’s a step-by-step process but things are changing.

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