Recession Design Exhibition

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words Anna Bates

There were no products in the Recession Design exhibition at the Salone this year, just a set of instructions for visitors to pick up so they could make the products themselves.

The exhibition was one of the few shows in Milan organised by a group of Italian designers. While the overall theme for the rest of the fair this year was refinement, the emphasis here was cheap and rough "because we think that in this period it's important to make design projects with no money", says graphic director Michelangelo Petralito - words that will no doubt fall better on consumers' ears than designers'.

Initiated by Italian architecture practice Pop Solid, the exhibition's 18 designers (mostly from Italy, but also Japan, Spain, Portugal and Serbia) each designed pieces that you could make with materials from your local DIY store. While the concept might be rough, each product was beautifully presented as a leaflet, with a seductive lifestyle photograph on the front, and a set of simple instructions on the reverse side.

Among our favourites were Paola de Francesco and Joao Silva's armchair, made out of blocks of wood, cord and nylon, and Masaaki Yanagisawa's side table.

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