At this year’s Salone del Mobile, a collection of unlikely, non-industry specific exhibitors broadened the scope of what we’ve come to expect at Milan.
Top image: Nike’s presentation, The Nature of Motion
PepsiCo and Nike were just two exhibitors who crisscrossed disciplines to highlight the evolution of good design, and build upon a broader, more rounded conversation on design, and the pivotal role it can play for brands and products in creating meaningful experiences for users and consumers.
PepsiCo: Mix it Up
While PepsiCo could be the most unlikely exhibitor to ever appear at an international design fair, their pop-bright presentation warranted critical attention again at Milan this year for its fresh approach to design thinking, and its intriguing design alliances. The presentation forms part of a budding crop of industry outsiders and conglomerates joining Salone del Mobile each year, like BMW and Apple.
Titled Mix it Up, the exhibition space was imagined by Design Group Italia. A ‘FIZZ Bar’ offered sparkling soda varietals, via the high-tech Pepsi Spire digital drinking fountain (the latest version features panel designs by Benjamin Hubert). Pepsi’s in-house design outfit, the PepsiCo Design and Innovation Centre, created a set of proprietary emojis called ‘PepsiMojis’, which were translated into a wearable context as soon-to-be available sunglasses in collaboration with Jeremy Scott. Industrial design celebrity and king of hyper-colour product packaging, Karim Rashid, designed bespoke barware accessories for the exhibition, including an ice bucket, glassware and tray. A special Fiat Pepsi Car was designed in collaboration with Lapo Elkann’s Garage Italia Customs, and there was a solar cart, and a newly devised, environmentally focused ‘Drinkfinity’ personal and portable beverage system.
PepsiCo Design and Innovation
Nike: The Nature of Motion
Adding to a broader, innovative exploration of design and design thinking this year was Nike’s presentation, The Nature of Motion. The sprawling exhibition at Via Orobia 15 was one of the biggest the fair has ever seen, and included interactive high tech installations and displays by Nike in-house designers, illuminating the evolution of Nike’s signature footwear, such as the Flyknit.
Nike also collaborated with eight progressive international designers, who were tasked with exploring the idea of ‘natural motion’ through various mediums. Designs were displayed against stacks of white shoe boxes, which appeared like rows of curved white subway tiles. Lindsey Adelman created a light installation inspired by the natural movement of plants. Lights communicated through vibrational movement in an effort to capture the elusive mystery of nature within the constraints of industrial components.
Other designs included floor lamps using diffusers made from Nike Flyknit via Enrico Cavarzan and Marco Zavagno of Zaven. London based industrial designer Max Lamb presented a block of heavy aluminium, granite and polystyrene, which levitated effortlessly above an invisible film of compressed air, enabling it to move with the lightest touch, challenging perceptions of weight and effort.