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20 : 04 : 18 : Weekly Debrief

Need to Know

This week: We showcase the best exhibits from Milan Salone 2018, including Puma's experimentation with biodesign, Issey Miyake's exploration of identity and how Carlo Ratti is rethinking climate-control

Forms of Movement by Nendo, Milan Salone 2018.Photography by Takumi Ota

1. Dassault Systèmes celebrates solution-based design

Milan – Three-dimensional software company Dassault Systèmes dissected how technology can be used to create a more sustainable future at its Design in the Age of Experience event at Milan Salone Internazionale del Mobile 2018. The brand worked with architect Kengo Kuma, inventor Daan Roosegaarde and sound artist and researcher Wesley Goatley to present work that addressed pollution affecting our cities.

Kuma created an expansive spiralling installation with an origami structure that has the ability to absorb the same amount of volatile compounds that 90,000 cars produce per year. Most interestingly, Goatley confronted the political disparity in how pollution data is communicated to the public. His reactive installation of Milan’s carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide and PM2.5 levels emphasised the selective and biased governmental reporting of pollution, and was designed to democratise data by allowing the public to submit readings in real time. Three sets of changing graphical forms reflect how data is not a god's eye view of the world, but a subjective one.

For more on how the aesthetics around data needs to be re-assessed, look out for our forthcoming interview with Wesley Goatley.

Biodesign by Puma and MIT Design Lab

2. Puma augments athleisure through biodesign

Milan – Sportswear brand Puma and MIT Design Lab showed the potential of upgrading athletic wear with biotechnology at their Milan Salone Internazionale del Mobile 2018 exhibit. The collaboration focused on integrating living organisms into athleisure in order to enhance individual performance, allow for greater personalisation and protect the user from external factors such as air pollution.

Research findings were brought to life in four future-facing products infused with micro-organisms. The Carbon Eaters, for example, featured microbially activated stickers that change colour in response to CO2 levels. Embedded into clothing, they could protect athletes from exposure to polluted air.

As forecast in the Whole-system Thinking macrotrend, brands are exploring new manufacturing processes that infuse everyday products with biotech solutions.

Soundscape by AGC and Moutosuke Mandai

3. Installation transforms glass into a speaker 

Milan – Glass specialist AGC and Japanese architect Moutosuke Mandai collaboration at Milan Salone 2018 celebrates a new material: sound-generating glass.

The material, currently under development at AGC, uses a new type of laminated glass that has been manufactured to emit clear sound rather have the usual characteristics of glass such as resonance and reverberations.

Soundscape features shards of glass suspended from the ceiling by metal rods. Each shard emits different sounds from nature, such as water droplets or rustling leaves. As users walk through the space, they experience a multi-layered auditory experience, where sounds can be sensed differently depending on where they are located in the exhibit.

The installation presents a glimpse into the possibilities that the glass offers as an auditory materialm especially in the landscape of a future city.

For more on Milan Salone Internazionale del Mobile 2018, look for our forthcoming material innovation debrief.

4. Carlo Ratti engineers a climate-controlled pavilion

Milan – Innovation and design studio Carlo Ratti Associati unveiled a climate-controlled pavilion that uses energy-saving strategies to create four different seasons at this year's design festival. The structure features photovoltaic panels that generate clean energy. This energy then powers the climate control system, continually transferring heat between cool and hot areas. The results are four different climates precisely engineered within the confined space of a pavilion.

The zero-net-energy installation is a prototype of a concept commissioned by property developer Citylife for a 2,500-square-metre garden to be created in the northwest of Milan. Through the design of its rooftop membrane – which can open and close organically to release or retain heat – the project proves the potential of Energetic Architecture and using energy-neutral solutions to design artificial climates. ‘As climate change might become more extreme, the importance of envisaging strategies for climate remediation will increase dramatically,’ explains Ratti.

For more on the future of temperature-based architecture, read our Opinion piece.

The Garden of the Four Seasons by Carlo Ratti Associati, Milan Salone Internazionale del Mobile 2018
Forms of Movement by Nendo, Milan Salone 2018. Photography by Takumi Ota

5. Nendo collaborates with Japanese manufacturers

Milan – Design studio Nendo unveiled 10 collaborations with Japanese manufacturers that embody the concept of motion. Each project at the Forms of Movement exhibition was based on the premise that objects either react to people, or people respond to an object, depending on its form or function.

With a clear focus on advanced technologies, state-of-the-art mechanisms and unconventional materials, the exhibition explored the theme through various guises.

One stand-out installation was manufacturer INAC and Nendo's Variations of Time. On display were four hourglasses carved from a volume of transparent acrylic and then polished by hand with fine metal needles tipped with abrasives. The resulting unconventional chambers and organically shaped cavities change the speed and angle of the flow of sand, and therefore the perception of the flow of time as it moves freely within the structure.

One hourglass has five minutes’ worth of sand divided into two cavities. Three minutes’ worth of sand accumulates in the left chamber, and then, when completely full, the sand falls into the right chamber for an additional two minutes. The use of precision engineering and merging of expertise enabled Nendo and INAC to attempt to ‘design time itself’.

For further reading on manufacturing and fabrication developments, read our forthcoming material innovation debrief from Milan Salone Internazionale del Mobile 2018.

To future-proof your world, visit The Future Laboratory's forecasting platform LS:N Global for daily news, opinions, trends, sector specific insights, and strategic toolkits.

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