Dave Pinter: How This Year’s Milan Design Week Elevated The Purpose Of The Car

Dave Pinter: How This Year’s Milan Design Week Elevated The Purpose Of The Car

In-house design projects, collaborations and design curation by car makers are becoming a staple of the fair.

Dave Pinter, PSFK
  • 21 april 2014

It may still be the Milan Furniture Fair (Salone del Mobile) to design scene veterans, but the annual trade fair with vast satellite shows is continuing to evolve beyond showcasing home furnishings. In recent years we’ve seen car companies take an increasing interest in participating in the event. An obvious case for it is the amount of media at the event and press generated. But those who have participated have so far been pretty smart about how they use the platform. Here’s three projects from the 2014 edition which show the sort of creative potential automakers chose to showcase.

Casa Vignale by Ford

Ford was officially the first automaker to participate at Salone del Mobile last year, although other marques have over the past several years through collaborations. Ford launched the Vignale brand this year, the premium level designation of Ford vehicles. The launch was marked with the unveiling of the S-Max Vignale as well as a bag collection inspired by the car.  The Vignale Weekender, a luxury overnight bag won a iF Design award and will go into production. The video below gives an overview of the event, additionally there is a channel with a behind the scenes look at Ford design from inspiration and strategy through clay modeling a full size prototype car.






Lexus Design Amazing

‘Amazing in Motion’ was an exhibition including the work of three world-renowned designers. Italian designer Fabio Novembre, Brooklyn-based designer Nao Tamura, and Tangible Media Group from MIT Media Lab each debuted installation created specifically for the show that involved new ways of thinking about motion and design. Also part of the exhibition were the winners of the 2014 Lexus Design Award.



We Dance by Fabio Novembre

Any motion can be amazing; it depends on the memories it evokes. Any action can be a dance; it depends on the harmony you put into it. Life itself is a dance. Everything from infinitesimally small atomic structures to the cosmic motion of planets and galaxies seem to constitute a harmonic dance. You add light and sound and here it is, a small representation of the whole: ‘We Dance’.

Individual elements orbit around the mirrored sphere in the centre, directing beams of light toward the centre. The overall effect gives birth to a harmony and unity between the orbiting elements, the illumination, and the music. Viewers also become an integral part of this harmony as the light reflected from the sphere and sound reach out to them, and as they view their own reflection in the face of the mirrored sphere.


Interconnection by Nao Tamura

There are forces in nature that are beyond the control of mankind. We have learned how fragile we are in the face of such forces. However, we have also learned the importance of accepting nature and learning to live in harmony with it.

Interconnected and interdependent, there is a constant give-and-take in nature. Life does not rest. Our collective motion, nature’s response to our movements is essential to our planet’s delicate balance. When we are one with nature, we are at our most powerful. Our movement together gives us life. Our movement forward creates the next generation of ideas. Life is always more amazing in motion.

The piece hangs from the ceiling on threads, with individual elements creating three-dimensional depth. The individual elements move in response to the natural flow of air as visitors move through the space. Light and shadow shift constantly as the elements move.


Transform by Tangible Media Group Led By Prof. Hiroshi Ishii

“TRANSFORM” echoes the theme of “Amazing in Motion” by fusing technology and design to celebrate its transformation from a piece of still furniture to a dynamic machine driven by the stream of data and energy. Created by Professor Hiroshi Ishii and the Tangible Media Group from the MIT Media Lab, TRANSFORM aims to inspire viewers with unexpected transformations, as well as the aesthetics of the complex machine in motion.

The work is comprised of three dynamic shape displays that move more than one thousand pins up and down in real time to transform the tabletop into a dynamic tangible display. The kinetic energy of the viewers, captured by a sensor, drives the wave motion represented by the dynamic pins.

The motion design is inspired by the dynamic interactions among wind, water and sand in nature, Escher’s representations of perpetual motion, and the attributes of sand castles built at the seashore. TRANSFORM tells the story of the conflict between nature and machine, and its reconciliation, through the ever-changing tabletop landscape.


MINI and United Visual Artists present PARALLELS inspired by MINI Connected


MINI partnered with London-based art and design collective UVA (United Visual Artists) on an installation which represented the MINI Connected dash interface within an entire room. The team created a series of light tubes from precision made metal frames and lasers. The installation was meant to give visitors a unique experience of interacting with light and technology that relates to the interior environment of the new Mini.



+Fabio Novembre
+Milan Design Week
+milan furniture fair
+Nao Tamura
+Salone del Mobile
+Tangible Media Group
+United Visual Artists

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