Although the 60th edition of Salone del Mobile.Milano has gracefully concluded, its echo can still be felt, in the form of latest product launches, discussions about immersive showcases, debates on the way forward for the creative community and comparison of this year’s offerings against those displayed during previous editions. In this week that follows one of the most successful international design fairs, let’s explore a series of furniture items created by renowned designers for Spanish furniture brand, Kettal.
The brand, known for their timeless furniture pieces which are equal parts functional and expressive and which strive to provide solutions for the ever-changing modern life, showcased a diverse range of indoor and outdoor products at the design week. Some of the designers who collaborated with the brand include the likes of Patricia Urquiola, Vincent Van Duysen, Rodolfo Dordoni, Naoto Fukasawa, Miguel Milá, Konstantin Grcic, Michael Anastassiades and Kettal Studio, the brand’s own design, research and development studio. The booth for this furniture showcase at the design fair was also designed by Patricia Urquiola and classified into three focal areas dedicated respectively to the Outdoor environment, Workplace environment and an exhibit space dedicated to material research and technology.
Plumon and Plumon Tables by Spanish designer and architect Patricia Urquiola are designed for the outdoors. Plumon, based on the concept of dressing and undressing the furniture to create new looks, employs a special tailoring and wrapping approach to create ribbed paddings held intact through mooring upon a light teak structure. The piece mimics the Brazilian spirit of living in abundance with its roomy and comfortable visage. Created to be placed along with the Plumon sofas, the Plumon tables are made using the 3D stoneware printing method, giving thus an industrial appeal. The result is an unusual shape and texture that would have been difficult to manufacture manually or through traditional methods. Using this method to sculpt out the legs of both coffee tables and side tables also allows for experimentation with each piece, thus making each table unique.
The Giro collection, designed by Vincent Van Duysen, is a series of seating items and coffee and side tables that revolve around the intent of researching and experimenting with rope to create the shape of the product. Designed such that it can be placed both inside and outside enclosed spaces, pieces that make up the collection are a good example of vernacular product design. Although inspired by the Orkney Chair which employed the usage of real rope, Giro pieces are woven out of recycled polypropylene rope, which is a flexible material and can be produced industrially. This fusion of an old traditional technique with a modern material facilitates respect for heritage and traditional craft, while also maintaining its relevance in current times. The sustainable weather-proof material used in this case also guarantees its usage across different locations and seasons.
Milanese architect and designer Rodolfo Dordoni’s Grand Bitta, a light and comfortable collection made out of aluminium frames, braided polyester cords, teak and stone, is a balanced product that is neither too scantily designed nor heftily loaded with layers and paddings. “‘My aim was to create dense braiding that would still let the air through, reminiscent of the braiding of the ropes used to moor boats (hence the name Bitta, which means “mooring” in Italian), which makes the pieces look lightweight but, at the same time, they look just like cosy nests in natural colours to sit back and relax in,” says Dordoni about the seating piece.
Naoto Fukasawa’s Tou, an outdoor lounge chair made out of rattan and reed wickerwork, evokes this traditional weaving technique that has been in use both in Eastern and Western cultures since ancient times. In an attempt to redefine this traditional mode of weaving containers and utensils and furniture items, striped vertical lines that are lighter and more expressive than mesh have been used in Tou. The outline thus is soft and smooth and appears more natural.
Another timeless piece that evokes the simplicity associated with modern day minimalism, while utilising traditional materials and tones is Miguel Milá’s Altar. Sculpted out of Iroko wood, aluminium and marble by Milá in the mid-sixties as an altar for his wedding, the furniture piece later took on the role of a table that could find usage in everyday life. Even though it was designed more than half a century ago, its strong constructive logic, Nordic aesthetics and lightness make it a competitive participant amongst Kettal’s showcases.
Neo-modernist industrial designer Konstantin Grcic who sometimes indulges in creating experimental pieces of design work and at other times, spends time in the exploration of materials and techniques that can facilitate the creation of affordable and accessible good quality products, showcased his Paladin at Salone 2022. Standing starkly against the furniture pieces displayed at the fair by Kettal, Grcic’s Paladin is a wood parasol made to be used both in domestic spaces as well as public spaces. Made out of natural teak, reinforced by aluminium and fastened using stainless steel and aluminium joints, the canopy appears to be supported by a slight vertical pole. In a darker space, one may surmise that the white canopy is afloat mid-air.
Unlike furniture, ceiling fans are rarely designed and redesigned by various designers to allude to different styles, traditions or aesthetics. They are usually three bladed fixtures arranged in a similar manner around a central core. Michael Anastassiades’s Superfan, designed for Kettal, attempts to tweak the traditional design with very slight changes. Arranged like the overlapping blades of paper windmill toys, Superfan is designed to maximise performance through the angle of its blades, the lightness of the materials used and the selection of motor for accurate speed control as well as quiet function. Both its versions operate with equal efficiency with and without a pendant and offer the flexibility of being used at different ceiling heights.
Lastly, Kettal’s in-house design and research studio, namely Kettal Studio, unveiled four different showcases at the fair, namely Pad, Arc, Base Kitchen and Hydroponic Garden. All four products and installations, different from each other, served as an elaborate exposition of the diverse and dynamic offerings by the brand’s creative wing. While Pad is a comfortable, sturdy and sustainable deck chair that can be stacked on top of each other, Arc is a basic armchair made out of Kettal’s trademark material, aluminium. The Arc armchair, typical in shape and structure, is enhanced by the braided strips that cover the chair’s backrest. The Base Kitchen collection, as its name suggests, is a modular kitchen that pockets all kinds of areas across the same horizontal slab supported on an aluminium frame. It comprises storage areas, the sink, the stove, a barbecue station, a bar counter and some freed up space for miscellaneous activities. Kettal Studio’s fourth and final showcase, conceived in collaboration with Tectum Garden, is a hydroponic vegetable garden. Contained in a limited space, the plants are grown without soil, are watered using the drip irrigation system and receive individually adjusted light. Designed by a team of environmentalists, architects, engineers, scientists and agronomists, the system is developed as a response to climate change and aims to present a prototype for an ecodesign system that can be used in offices and private spaces alike. The materials used in the garden are 75% recycled and 100% recyclable, and the overall system is created in an attempt to foster a sustainable future.
Kettal showcased their 2022 collection at Pavilion 20 | Stand B05 B07 C06 C10 during Salone del Mobile.Milano 2022.
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