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More from Milan: High design gets crafty

April 19, 2010 |  9:01 am

As original designs get knocked off with increasing speed, it's interesting to see furniture being created with the look of artisanal workmanship -- something that might drive away low-cost copycats, or at least slow them down a bit.

At an off-site opening held in conjunction with the 2010 Milan furniture fair, Established & Sons showcased Bertjan Pot's new Jumper chair, pictured above. Using a conventional wood frame with bent steel legs, the designer skipped traditional upholstery and instead called up a knitting machine that essentially created a sweater for the chair. The knit was washed for a tighter, stronger weave, then slipped over the frame; buttons under the seat keep the fabric in place.

Milan_Ren Across town in the Zona Tortona, the "Hidden Heroes" exhibition of young designers included a cocktail table by Ifeanyi Oganwu, pictured at right, that appeared to be hand-honed marble. The piece actually had been created by computer numeric control, better known as a CNC machine. 

And in the two-story B&B Italia showroom, practically the entire top floor was turned over to Patricia Urquiola's new Bend sofas and ottomans, pictured below.

The pleasingly eccentric shapes were a bit like ice floes imperfectly chiseled into minimalist slabs: The width of the sofa back varied, the top surfaces undulated ever so slightly, and the shifts in topography were visible to the eye but not your back or backside. It was comfortable, to be sure. Stitching in high-contrast colors completed the look -- quirky, cool and seemingly hand-crafted.

Milan_B&B_Bend Sofa_06

Milan_B&B_Bend Sofa_03That's Urquiola's Bend, pictured above, and in the less blinding white, seen at right. Note how a corner of the ottomans puffs up, just a smidge.

-- Craig Nakano

Photo credits, from top: Craig Nakano, Expand Design, B&B Italia, B&B Italia.

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