For the first time ever, after 15 years of running Addictlab, we had a booth at the Salone di Mobile in Milan, in the Young designershall, the Salone Satellite. It meant a lot of work, a hands on approach to get the booth up and running, and a limitless amount of times I had to explain the Addictlab concept. I'm still trying to grasp the extend of the last 10 days, since it was so multilayered and rich as an experience.
Here's what I learned and picked up from running around the Satellite. I'd do that late at night or in the early morning, before or after closing time. Which gives moments of reflection, as opposed to the inevitable mess created by the over 330.000 visitors to the Fiera. I also picked up concepts from running around in the city, the Zona Tortona, Ventura Lambrate. The following insights are based on what I saw. It's a quick text, I'll be working on more in depth thoughts and ideas.
I feel sorry for not having written down all the credits of the objects I'm showing here. That was a mistake. I thought I could browse the Salone Satellite catalogue and find the designers related to the pics I took, but I can't find them. If you recognise work, please mail it to
, I'd be glad to add the rightful names.
Clean & straight lines need to be cut. Not adding imperfection, adding new meanings.
2. Time Line Thinking.
I love to think there is a quest for authenticity when young designers are creating. I believe we can add now there is also respect for history, for the past.
A thinking process on how to conservate our past, and learn from it, for the future. This renewed respect for history also reflects in a new interest to learn old disappearing crafts.
Beautiful lights. Old lampion, new techniques.
Maybe this calendar I liked the most. It's 31 frames. For each day one.
3. Romanticism 2.0.
(Everything has its time)
4. Nature calling. (still)
The eco thinking, the use of honest materials, wood, plants, it all is pretty much present still. And it should be. But I saw some concepts that go a step further. New functions, new thinking. I probably can add my Funkyfunghi here, but the images from the clock with the rose, the blossoming bed for babies, the rainforest conservation system and the DIY PETbottles plant holder, they show different approaches on how to include natural thinking to the creative process.
(forest conservation system)
5. New tool era.
Chilean Design - Veronica Posada, Diseno Si Estudio Clipan Pan Pan. Function and form of a clothespin is reinterpreted to perform a different action in the culinary world. Clipan Pan Pan! is designed to hold the most basic food of everyday meals: Bread. And Cookies.
6. DIY Storytelling
Storytelling scores high on today's marketing bullshit bingo. But linked to objects, it's still an interesting aspect. Although I"d prefer more a definition that explains that not the designer is creating the story. It's us, spectators and users. Hence I called it DIY Storytelling.
7. Biomimicry / New technologies: the matrix.
This concept, of human anatomy as inspiration for design objects, stands symbol of all the concepts out there that are using new technologies. Think laser cutting, 3D printing.
High Herled Incomodity. Personal identity passed through X-rays to become an 3D object. The console uses scraps of Corian from the manufacture of kitchen and bathroom washbasins.
8. The new Punk.
This chandelier is made by translucent Barbie legs and heads. Of course.
And what about Addictlab? How does an ex-AD man takes up booths in art fairs, shopping malls, advertising festivals, future thinking conferences and design weeks?
We have a bit of a different approach. I didn't want to 'just' show objects at the Satellite. I guess I wanted to show the Addictlab concept as a design thinking process. Our services, visions, changes we can make. Because that's maybe why I believe we were on the right spot: Design thinking involves a very holistic thought process. Something people in advertising, or fashion, or art could learn from.
With Addictlab we had booths in fashion fairs, art fairs, advertising festivals, you name it. Yet I believe, if we can go further than just showing objects, being at a design festival is probably the most fitting.
The booth itself, had a number of characteristics:
1. Attract people by showing provocative design. Hence Oliver Ruuger's umbrella, hanging at the beginning of the stand. I think the horse tailed umbrella was touched & photographed by every woman passing by.
2. Show the international community.
I had the time of my life, on Monday before the fair, sticking the world map on cardboard. Not. I moved New Zealand a bit, I hope they won't mind. On the map, we put all the collaborating labmembers, and it was impressive to see where they came from.
3. Speak the language of the 'design' environment.
I had to show young design talent, obviously. So I was really happy to be able to show (and use) Mathias De Winter Panels and Plugs system. We printed Addictlab elements on the panels. It looked just great. Pity I couldn't get the New Zealand concepts for real, they would have fit in perfectly.
4. Don't speak the language of the environment.
I needed to show the process rather than the products. Someone understood: "You are constantly in motion". See 5 and 6.
5. Interact & involve.
We had 'idea boarding passes' for people to understand that Addictlab is a participatory concept. That it's about collaboration.
6. Show and tell. And Sell.
I needed to explain the Addictlab system. So I drew my little 'How does Addictlab work' on a board. Again. The fact that I'm around for 15 years was always an interesting one. And the Soweto radios. And cars. And the one dollar necklace. And the candles. In fact, by showing so many different things in a - hopefully - structured way, I believe we could interact we so many different people.
Next steps. What will come out of this?
1. I was approached by people interested in the individual concepts and products. 'What does the treewear cost? Meric's carpet? Mathias' Panels and Plugs?
So that is going to be an interesting one to follow up on.
2. Yet I also was approached by companies, and governemental bodies on the overall concept. 'Can we hire you?' 'Can you teach us?' I have a truck load of business cards and boarding passes to run through. I hope some of the contacts will lead to concrete next steps and sustainable changes.
3. The touristlab project boasted another round of ideas and thoughts. In fact, I decided to start creating the Ad!dict book on the booth, projecting my live work, so people could see the design and selection in progress, and understand the addictlab process from proactive lab research to collaborative thinking to selection and to print platform - and hopefully concrete next steps. Give us a bit of the month May, and you'll be able to browse the new book here.
4. In any case, if they let us, we need to be back next year.