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Milan (Design) Diary, 1

I am in Milan for Milan Design Week, a getaway that is as much work as it is pleasure. It been pretty good! Thoughts on Milan as a city at a later date but I wanted to share what I’ve been up to as I scour various design happenings for Cool Hunting.

Formafantasma’s Foundation
Formafantasma is an Italian design duo based in Amsterdam. Their Foundation showing is a collection of works that use LED and other non-bulb (or “traditional”) lighting as a point of departure for experimentation. The results are as bizarre as they are beautiful.

What they’ve done is basically make these really, really pretty brassware lights that make fun of how shitty LED lighting is. With an iPhone flashlight, they use a lens to concentrate it to a glowy, pretty light circle. With some brightly awful LED strips, they slink it against a wall with a small sheet of colored glass to make it spiral out like a flower. With circular LED bulbs, they trained them on the floor at the base of brass, giant earring-like hoops to project cloudy circles on the ground. It’s fun work! And it suggests that the antiseptic whiteness of LED lighting can be fixed with some creativity.

Jaime Hayon’s Stone Age Folk For Caesarstone
You probably don’t know what the brand Caesarstone is but they are a quartz manufacturer that help you make your kitchen surfaces all fancy stone looking. It’s rich people stuff. For whatever reason, they teamed up with Spanish artist and designer Jaime Hayon to create the divinely clownish Stone Age Folk installation.

The resulting work is twofold: Hayon created playful furniture items that range from a Monkey wall hanging to a clown chest to bird tables in addition to a harlequin inspired room that features marble merry-go-rounds. It was fucking awesome. There is no reason for the room outside of having people run around and play, Instagramming their exploits, but the furniture items are highly covetable creations that we would all love in our houses. That fucking clown chest? Blow my brains out: it is so god damned adorable. It is so me. I wish I could take that in my luggage.

Bonus points for the installation also being in the super old ass and traditional Palazzo Serbolloni which provided a nice bridge from Caesarstone’s quartz surfaces to Hayon’s bonkers harlequin works. This was probably the most fun thing I saw yesterday.

Studio Swine’s New Spring for COS
You know COS? They’re the minimalist adult brand from the people who made H&M that is going to be exploding everywhere very, very soon. They’re fabulous and pronounced “Koz” instead of “C-O-S” as I’ve been saying for years.

Anyway, they enlisted design duo Studio Swine to make one of the most bizarre, entrancing spon-con outlets I’ve ever seen: New Spring, a giant mechanical tree that burps out bubbles (“blossoms,” as they say) that are filled with mist.

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The thing about the bubbles that make them spon-con are twofold: they do not break when they come in contact with textured clothing (like COS brand wears) and are filled with some sort of scent that was not discussed yet suggest a to-be-sold fragrance. It was a somewhat silly experience that, while beautiful, is a playground for adult people to play around with and take harmless selfies as they promote COS. To be clear: I’m happy to do that since I love COS. Moreover, if a fragrance doesn’t come out of this drunk robo-tree, I’ll be really mad at them for missing the opportunity. The room smelled so good.

That was the first “work” day at Milan! Lots of great stuff. Onward to a full fucking day of stuff for me. Later, non-gendered people who all have buttholes ✌️

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