Above: Chris Hardy’s Y Series stool, image courtesy Chris Hardy.
Canberra-based designer Chris Hardy was at Salone del Mobile, Milan, seeking inspiration, checking out new products, and supporting his fellow creatives. Following the whirlwind design exhibition, Hardy gives ADR a run-down of the event from his perspective.
Who were the standout personalities that have inspired you at Milan this year?
I sought out all things Bouroullec in Milan this year. The Bouroullec brothers are able to take on any brief, no matter the market, and deliver something both beautiful and completely appropriate, every time. From the elegant use of various aluminium processing styles to form the Stampa chair for Kettal to the way they took the ancient and (let’s be honest) somewhat unfashionable manufacturing technique of wrought iron in creating the beautiful Officina Collection for Magis to very effectively give this process new relevance in a contemporary context are just two examples of their previous work.
For Milan this year Ronan and Erwin released the flat-pack Can sofa for Hay, again showing how accomplished these designers really are. These pieces (sofa and armchairs) hit their mark on all levels – they’re easy to customise and ship, they look incredibly easy to assemble, and they’re aesthetically interesting in terms of the use of material panels stretched across a tubular frame and braced with a strap.
In your view, which designers or design houses have continually raised the bar at Milan this year?
In my opinion, Hay seems always to be creating a buzz, and this year at Milan was no different. I also think the new offerings from Japanese brand Maruni are strong additions to the brand’s collection – Naoto Fukasawa’s beautiful Hiroshima range has been extended to now include stools and a stacking armchair (all themed on the backrest detail), and Jasper Morrison has created two new pieces, the T Chair and O Stool, also beautiful.
T Chair by Jasper Morrison
What innovative exhibitions or products made an impression on you this year?
The ‘Local Milan’ exhibition curated by Emma Elizabeth and Tom Fereday was excellent. Twelve Australian designers including Emma Elizabeth, Tom Fereday, Tom Skeehan, Alex Fitzpatrick, and Andrew Simpson presented their work set against 5000 bricks in the beautifully dark and moodily lit former church, now theatre, Teatro Arsenale in 5 Vie art and design precinct in a way that was unique and very much left an impression.
The Arper stand at Rho also left a strong impression – the stand was beautifully designed incorporating sensitive lighting details and a beautiful colour palette.
Which key themes or ideas did you observe at this year’s Salone del Mobile?
I did notice one new little theme that crept up in a number of brands – it is such a minor thing but it piqued my interest. A number of chairs (Jasper Morrison’s T Chair and Konstantin Grcic’s Remo chair) are using a recessed detail in their backrests so that a mating support coming from the seat can fit to it and look relatively grounded and seamless…I told you it was minor.
You can’t leave Milan without..?
…visiting La Rinascente’s terrace for a view of Duomo and a spritz.