In the Mix
Memorable Milan Moments
7 uplifting, feel-good, do-good highlights from Milan Design Week 2023
As the world’s largest and most influential annual design event draws to a close this weekend, we’re taking a moment to reflect on all the inspiration that Milan Design Week offered up this year. Following a few slower, sparer years during the height of the pandemic, it was gratifying to feel things ramping back up. Here are seven highlights from the week that captured our imagination with uplifting, do-good, feel-good messages.
CONTINUUM, curated by Victoria Yakusha
Ukrainian-born designer, cultural heritage architect, Faina founder Victoria Yakusha continues to shine a light on the talent and values of her home country as it fights for freedom from Putin’s invading regime. For Milan Design Week 2023, Yakusha invited four Ukrainian creatives—fashion designer Irina Dzhus, pastry chef Dinara Kasko, perfumer Vlad Zvarych, and textile artist Galina Shiposha—to collaborate on Continuum, a multimedia, sensorial exhibition of contemporary craft expressions that celebrate the spirit of liberty as well as respect for the planet. The project was realized with support of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) under the Competitive Economy Program in Ukraine.
FREEDOM VESSELS, created by Rive Roshan
Australian-Iranian designer Golnar Roshan, one half of Amsterdam-based studio Rive Roshan, has been deeply moved by the ongoing Woman, Life, Freedom protests in Iran, which arose in the wake of Mahsa Amini’s death last September. Together with her partner Ruben de la Rive Box, Roshan created the Freedom Vessel series to honor and support the Iranian women who continue to fight for their rights against an oppressive, patriarchal government. “Women in Iran are currently resisting a regime for their right to speak, to sing, to dance, to dress as they want, and to just be free,” Roshan explains. “We wanted to create this series as a tribute to these brave and powerful voices, many of which have been punished or executed.”
LOVE LETTERS, curated by Anna Carnick for 5vie
Design Miami editor and Anava Projects founder Anna Carnick curated a poignant group exhibition entitled Love Letters, spotlighting design objects conceived as expressions of gratitude. Collaborating with a stellar roster of rising star artist-designers—Agustina Bottoni (Buenos Aires, Milan), Eve de Haan (London), Ibiyanε (Martinique), Ahryun Lee (Essenbach), Xanthe Somers (London) and Maryam Turkey (New York)—Carnick’s project highlights the role of kindness, vulnerability, and creativity in resisting the forces of division and fear that have gathered strength internationally in recent years. The project is also raising funds for local nonprofit Progetto Arca's important work supporting displaced and refugee women and children in Milan. Please donate here!
MORE OR LESS, created by G-Star RAW x Maarten Baas
Dutch denim brand G-Star RAW (half owned by Pharrell Williams) invited 21st-century design star Maarten Baas to collaborate on More or Less, an exhibition showcasing applications for upcycled denim remnants—including a series of amusingly pants-shaped cabinets and a 15-meter-long private jet! As we’ve come to expect from Baas, the humorous facade of the project draws us into a thought-provoking critique of contemporary design culture, in this case asking us to reflect on the tension between our individual desire for more and our collective need to produce and use less. “Every year in Milan,” Baas comments, “I witness the tragicomic dialogue between green design and mass consumption. When G-Star approached me to collaborate, it was the perfect opportunity to focus on this duality. After all, we are all part of the same puzzle: we enjoy our prosecco next to this private jet made from recycled materials. We are not saving the world, but are we contributing to an improvement? More or less...”
RECIPES FOR THE FUTURE, presented by Irthi and curated by Mr. Lawrence
Continuing its mission to empower women and preserve craft traditions in the MENASEA and Central Asia regions, Sharjah-based Irthi Contemporary Crafts Council assembled a cross-cultural team of talents, including Emirati designers Reem Saif Almazrouei and Eman Al Rahma along with three innovative Italian design duos, curators Mr. Lawrence and studios Casalinghe di Tokyo and Studiopepe. The result was Recipes for the Future, an exhibition that imagines contemporary dining rituals as moments of cultural reflection, highlighting the role that food and craft play in connecting people to one another.
SILENT HOLLOWS, created by Richard Yasmine and Sebastiano Deva for 5Vie
Awarded the Special Mention Fuorisalone Award, Silent Hollows elicits an intriguing dialogue between nature, craft, and technology, between human and artificial intelligence. Beirut-based designer Richard Yasmine’s new collection of tables, mirrors, and lights, partly handcrafted and partly 3D printed, are presented alongside a VR environment and #mirrors, an NFT collection by artist Sebastiano Deva. “Things that we think are immaterial—such as consciousness, imagination, the soul, and the mind—are also material phenomena; classified as immaterial because we don't know their true nature yet, “Yasmine says. “Virtuality being deemed non-existent, in my opinion, is a flawed theory… Creativity always originates from the virtual and imagination, and then we try to translate it. So there is nothing virtual in life, because everything virtual exists somewhere.”
A FUTURE FOR THE PAST, designed by on∙entropy and curated by Maria Cristina Didero for 5Vie
Milan-based design curator Maria Cristina Didero delivers a fascinating design project nearly every Milan Design Week, and this year is no different. For A Future for the Past, Didero collaborated with Greek marble atelier on.entropy, created and run by sisters Niki and Zoe Moskofoglo. A temple-like setting that mingles light, shadow, incense, and relics, the project pays tribute to the material and cultural heritage of Tinos, an island in the Aegean sea known for its 5,000-year-old marble quarries, while uplifting the collective memory and folk traditions of the region. Next year, the exhibition will be installed at the site of its own inspiration, on the island of Tinos.