Milan Design Week 2021: Supermama and More Singapore brands to Show New Collections at Design Variations
Often considered as the most significant international event in the world of design, the annual Milan Design Week was put on an 18-month hiatus due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Organised in conjunction with the Salone del Mobile.Milano furniture fair, the Italian design week and international trade show returns with a one-off September edition this year, to run from 5-10 September.
The show goes on for Singapore brands, too. Homegrown tableware brand Supermama is one of the firms participating in the 2021 edition of Design Variations, one of the satellite events to be held during Milan Design Week.
“The Milan Design Week is probably the most important event in the calendar of furniture and product designers as it often sets the pace for the trends to come. I had the chance to be there (for the fair) as a designer when I was younger and I think it'll be quite surreal to present there as a brand,” says Edwin Low, founder of Supermama.
To be held in Palazzo Litta, a Baroque-era building in Milan’s historic Corso Magenta district, the Design Variations installation is curated by architects Manuel and Francisco Aires Mateus of the Aires Mateus Studio around the theme of “A Beach in the Baroque”. It will also feature an international array of collections from Austrian architect Dejana Kabiljo, Portugal-based designers Mircea Anghel and Emmanuel Babled, German carpeting brand Edelgrund, Swiss manufacturer Wogg, Italian studios Casarialto Atelier, Orografie, Tensoforma, as well as collections presented by the East China Normal University, and Korea Craft and Design Foundation, and Supermama.
Designed by Singapore firm Studio Juju, the Supermama section in Design Variations will feature collections from the local tableware brand, as well as designs from homegrown menswear brand Biro and accessories brand Shales. After the installation debuts in Milan, a version of it will be shown later this year at the National Museum of Singapore, where Supermama has recently opened its flagship within the museum in August.
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“Supermama's works always thread the fine line between the contemporary and the classics, the past and present, the simple and the complex, and we hope to showcase that in Milan,” says Low. “We have worked with Timo and Priscilla from Studio Juju for a number of projects, from product designs to interior designs. They have a design sensibility that articulates a certain playfulness and warmth in their designs and that is exactly what we hope to present.”
Highlights of the Supermama collections presented include Tingkat, a set of porcelain tableware designed by Studio Juju, which is inspired by the traditional tiered tin boxes used to transport food and produced by Japanese makers Kihara and Sochikuan. Comprising colourful porcelain bowls, a plate and a cup, the set is housed in bamboo baskets that can be used as a food cover or fruit bowl. Another key series is Little Things in Life and S for Social, two porcelain collections designed by Touch SpecialCrafts, a programme that celebrates the work of artists with mild intellectual disabilities. The S for Social plates are adorned with a letter that represents a social value, created using the Altruistic Alphabet chart contributed by Milan-Singapore studio Lanzavecchia + Wai.
Cross-disciplinary highlights in the Supermama section of Design Variations include local menswear brand Biro’s F. Classic series, which promotes mindful consumption and slow fashion with its collection of eight menswear essentials made using tsuri ami ki (traditional Japanese loopwheel machines) to create clothing made with a soft and strong textile.
With that same socially-conscious ethos, accessories brand Shales will also present two products in collaboration with Taiwanese company Miniwiz. These include Orimono, a multifunctional wallet-and-journal folded into shape with washable paper, as well as the Nelio coat that’s made with a rectangular, zero-waste pattern that does away with buttons and zips to make it fully biodegradable.
Adds Low: “What we are presenting may seem to be functional wares, and yet if one were to probe further, you can discover broad concepts such as sustainability, consumer attitudes, and inclusive design being intentionally considered in every aspect of the design process. We hope to show that these broad concepts are not some far-fetched notions but can be a part of our everyday living.”
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