Act I: The End (and the Beginning)

The time has come at last to seek the blossoms:
now to greet spring among the hills!
From the Noh play 西行桜 (Saigyo’s Cherry Tree) by Zeami

Milan Design Week 2024 is officially underway!

Spring has come, and the blossoms of design bloom here in Milan. As we walk beneath the Arches of Porta Nuova toward our first events on Via Durini, there is a giddy feel in the air. Final preparations and last minute tweaks have kept these streets busy the past couple of days. Spaces were reconfigured; pieces were moved and moved again; construction tape was put up; construction tape was taken down.

But now all that is done. The time of preparation has ended – and the time of celebration begins!

Among the many brightly shining stars this week, we are especially excited about several Haworth Group* brands – all of whom are found on or very near Via Durini.

We can’t wait to see what Cassina, Cappellini, Poltrona Frau and Zanotta are up to… but before we show you into the design district, let’s tell you what we’re looking out for this week!

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When we say ‘trends’, what do we mean? What are we looking for?

Liz Teh is the Space Design Director for Haworth International – and as the designer behind Haworth International’s spaces, she is always on the lookout for new trends. To Liz, a trend is something whole – something that goes beyond individual pieces or colours.

‘I’m always more keen on installations rather than furniture pieces,’ Liz says. ‘It’s all about the experience – the theme they are exploring. It might be about materiality, sustainability, longevity of materials.’

We are looking for the timeless, approached from fresh angles; the enduring, examined with unorthodox insight. This is style, which lasts, as opposed to fashion, which flees. There’s nothing so unsustainable, so anti-environment as fleeting fashion. (As Oscar Wilde said, fashion is merely a form of ugliness so unbearable that we are compelled to alter it every six months!)

In the serendipitous way of Milan Design Week, this morning theme of timelessness reappeared in our first interview.

We connected with Linde Freya Tangelder, the vibrant design mind behind destroyers / builders. Linde has collaborated with Cassina on several projects –  including Wax, Stone, Light, a lamp that unites the plastic qualities of wax and the concrete qualities of stone.

Linde’s design approach deftly balances destruction with creation. She embraces the dynamic power of deconstruction and the uniqueness inherent in nature. Her approach is an heir to brutalism – but, perhaps unexpectedly, it is warm, human, and welcoming. She uses natural materials that invoke the enduring, even as she designs for intimate human spaces, which are inherently ephemeral. She aims for timeless designs which could come from any era.

We can’t wait to share more from our time with Linde. And don’t forget to check back in tomorrow for Act II, when we hear from Henning Figge about how new ideas are changing the world of work. Plus, we’ll explore a SECRET GARDEN with Claudia Zanfi.

*(Haworth is the founding brand of the Haworth Group, which we are proud to say includes the world’s greatest brands and iconic products.)