Milan Furniture Fair: Ventura Lambrate 14.07.10

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Lambrate – a former industrial district on the outskirts of town – scooped-up the design scene's young talent this year. A good stroll from the metro station, it was the cause of many a map-related tantrum, so it's just as well that on arrival, good show followed good show. And the sun was out – lending the area the feel-good factor of a summer fête. The Dutch pack was here in droves, with solo exhibits, pop-up galleries and even an apple-pie vendor. Now that students, graduates and independents have been priced out of other districts, we hope Ventura Lambrate will provide a new venue – and that when the manufacturers pass by, it's as visitors rather than exhibitors.

Among the many exhibitions we found Belgian gallery Z33 one of the more interesting. It continued its exploration into processes with Belgian design duo Unfold's L'Artisan Electronique ceramic rapid prototyping machine. "I'm not happy with it yet," said co-founder Dries Verbruggen, as it dribbled lines of clay, building up a vase layer by layer – like a Mr Whippy ice-cream machine operating on a delicate level.

But more interesting than the results is the machine itself; the designers found open source designs for a 3D printer and then developed a tool head capable of extruding clay. To add a collaborative element, Unfold sought the expertise of Belgian designer Tim Knapen to make a virtual pottery wheel – giving visitors the chance to design an object online and then watch it print.

A few streets from Z33, the students from the London's Royal College of Art exhibited. New Design Products head Tord Boontje hired out a vast space and then gave his students the keys and a brief to do as they wished. We liked Dirk Winkel's Polymer LED desk lamp – it uses gas in the place of springs to get the smoothest movement possible, and rather like the anglepoise, makes no attempt to hide its inner workings. Shu-Chun Hsiao presented a wind-chime that responds to electromagnetic waves – make a phone call and you are reminded of the invisible forces surrounding you, thanks to a harmonious chiming sound.

Lastly, we enjoyed Alexander Groves' neon jewellery and William Shannon's concept Harvest City, a cabinet-maker that sets up wherever unwanted raw material presents itself. Be it tree branches, newspapers, or city junk, he turns it into furniture for the area's locals. There are no pictures yet, but we hope to see more at RCA's graduation show.


Olivia Decaris designed this water pouch decanter


Flashing neon sign brooch by Alexander Groves


Unfold's ceramic rapid prototyping machine



Anna Bates

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Now that students, graduates and independents have been priced out of other districts, we hope Ventura Lambrate will provide a new venue

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