Best Architect-Designed Products of Milan Design Week 2013

Tools for Life / © Ilan Rubin

This week at the 52nd edition of the Salone Internazionale del Mobile in Milan, over 2,500 exhibitors showcased an endless collection of the latest international products and home-furnishing designs. Among them included a variety of elegant and intelligently designed items envisioned by some of our favorite architects. Continue after the break to scroll through a list of the best architect-designed products featured at the Milan Design Week 2013.

Jean Nouvel

Pure Sneaker for Ruco Line / Jean Nouvel

Pure has commissioned Jean Nouvel to explore the world of fashion with the creation of the Ruco Line - a high quality sneaker that idolizes “purity of form”. The basic conception of the design is the monolith, whose complexity is perceived only when the sneaker is put on: the bottom, highlighted by a double band, is light and the purity of form gives the shoe a versatility that makes it right at any time during the day. This complexity, or as Nouvel defines it, this contradiction between opposites becomes a creative paradigm. It makes reference to many dichotomies: simple/complex, light/heavy, macro/micro, universal/special.


Tools for Life / OMA © Agostino Osio

The new range, Tools for Life, designed by OMA for Knoll, is based on the idea that furniture should be understood as a high-performance instrument rather than a design statement. OMA conceived the furniture to facilitate the contemporary flow between work and social life, while literally adjusting to the different needs of both.

Tools for Life / OMA © Agostino Osio

Rem Koolhaas commented: “We wanted to create a range of furniture that performs in very precise but also in completely unpredictable ways, furniture that not only contributes to the interior but also to the animation of the interior.”

Tools for Life / OMA © Agostino Osio

Tools for Life includes the 04 Counter, intended as a new typology of furniture: starting as a stack of three horizontal bars, the user can rotate the top two bars into any configuration, transform the wall-like unit into a series of shelves, desks, and cantilevered benches at different heights – a metamorphosis from a spatial partition to a communal gathering place.

Tools for Life / OMA © Agostino Osio

The collection features tables that can be adjusted – also by electric motor – from coffee table to desk height, swivel chairs, a stool, an executive desk, and other items. Each piece is made from a simple material palette (transparent acrylic, leather, travertine, steel, wood, glass, concrete) making the furniture compatible with a range of residential and workplace interiors.

Ron Arad

3 Nuns Stool for Moroso / Ron Arad

Known for his constant experimentation with materials and his radical reconceptions of form and structure, Ron Arad’s 3 Nuns Stool for Moroso’s American Collection rethinks the structural logic of stool design, transforming its structure of tempered steel ribbons into an intricate spectacle that allows users to adjust the seat height to their preference. 

Springs 3D Printed Glasses for pq: Archway / Ron Arad

The 3D printed “Springs” eyewear collection by Ron Arad for Pq presents a playful series of monolithic masterpieces to the new spring collection. The lightweight and highly durable frames, cost-effectively made using SLS (selective laser sintering) technology, feature gill-like sides to allow fluid movement for the arms and “perfect pressure” for the head. 


Splinter for Conde House / Nendo

Chairs’ backrests divide to become armrests and legs, while the top of the coat stand peels away to provide coat hooks and the side table’s stand splinter to turn into three legs. Nendo works with the grain and delicately peels away at each piece to create the unique wooden furniture collection Splinter for Conde House.

Heel Chair for Moroso / Nendo

Inspired by the silhouette of a stiletto, the thin profile of Nendo’s Heel Chair for Moroso is made from wood lacquered in black.

Zaha Hadid

Serac Bench / ZHA © Jacopo Spilimbergo

Developed in resin quartz as an urban sculpture for seating and resting, the striated articulation of the Serac Bench for LAB 23 emerges seamlessly from the landscape, with each layer taking its own unique trajectory in reaction to latent forces that disperse – and ultimately coalesce – the many strata of the bench. 

Avia & Aria Lamp for Slamp / ZHA

Zaha Hadid’s monochrome Avia and Aria lamps for Slamp combines dramatic architectural features with the intrinsic weightlessness of the materials to create a sculpture of light and technology that fascinates and enchants observers. The 90 cm by 130 cm veil of Aria is comprised of 50 individual layers of Cristalflex (a techno-polymer patented by Slamp), while Avia used 52 different layers of Opalflex (also a techno-polymer patented by Slamp) to create an effect of fluidity, dynamism and harmony.

Array Seating for Poltrona Frau / ZHA

An Array is a matrix in the language of science and is perfectly apt to describe the new auditorium seating system designed by Zaha Hadid for Poltrona Frau Contract as it creates a network of visual and geometrical effects in each seating area. This system forms breaks the mold of traditional auditorium seating with a single, self-rotating “seat sculpture” built on the principles of Euclidean geometry.

Liquid Glacial Tables for David Gill Galleries / ZHA

Zaha Hadid’s Liquid Glacial Tables for David Gill Galleries embeds surface complexity and refraction within a powerful fluid dynamic. The table top appears transformed from static to fluid by the subtle waves and ripples evident below the surface, while the table’s legs seem to pour from the horizontal in an intense vortex.

Daniel Libeskind

Paragon Table Lamp for Artemide / Daniel Libeskind © Gio Pini

The PARAGON lamp, designed by Daniel Libeskind for Artemide, is the latest in the company’s line of decorative table lamps. With its four hinged segments, the PARAGON can be playfully bent to create myriad interesting shapes such as a perched bird or a rocket poised for launch. The lamp head is fitted with the latest LED technology.

Doriana and Massimiliano Fuksas

Candy Collection lamps for ZONCA / Doriana and Massimiliano Fuksas © Luca Casonato

The Candy Collection lamps, designed by Doriana and Massimiliano Fuksas for Zonca, starts by a geometric design, a jewel box consists of twelve pentagonal faces that make up the structure of each lamp. Following a game of full and empty, it passes from one body designed as a framework, where the structure is exposed, to a coating of micro-faces with a reason. The idea is to play with each lamp to create a unique setting. It can give rise to an installation, a sculpture, a light path through this series of colored lamps designed to be joined together to create a lamp always original. Completes the series a variant for directing the light, a pentagonal prism stylized that can be embedded on each lamp.


Seating Stone / UNStudio © HG Esch

Inspired by the rhythmic smoothness of geological formations, the sculptural Seating Stones – designed by Ben van Berkel of UNStudio for Walter Knoll and presented at Tortona Design Week Milan 2013 – exhibit a playful take on spatial awareness and versatility, presenting myriad possibilities for placement, color, texture, arrangement and communication.

Circle Sofa / UNStudio © Iwan Baan

Originally designed with the Mercedes-Benz lobby in mind, the Sofa Circle for Walter Knoll, currently on view at Tortona Design Week Milan 2013, is the sum of four distinct seating sections sinuously morphed together. The four sections can be positioned in either a concave or convex arrangement. The circular arrangement generates a closed space for communication or concentration in contrast the sofa sections can also be positioned in an outward facing manner that encourages more anonymous or transient use.

MYchair / UNStudio © Bryan Adams

“The architectural approach to furniture is different from that of the industrial designer as the architect begins with the space and the environment that the chair will become a part of. All the details of the chair are considered for their spatial effects. This architectural approach to furniture is connected with a very personal ideology of space,” stated UNStudio’s Ben van Berkel in reference MYchair for Walter Knoll at Tortona Design Week Milan 2013.

Studio gt2P

Vilu Light Collection for DHPH / Studio gt2P © Aryeh Kornfeld

The story behind the Chilean Studio gt2P’s Vilu Light Collection for DHPH is from an old Chilean Myth about two gigantic snakes battling over a piece of land. After battle, when the smoke had cleared, islands were all that was left. Although not your typical bedtime story, gt2P found their inspiration for the Vilu Lights in the image of these islands and brought together old and new, digital techniques and craftsmanship, to form this new collection.  

More images of each project in the gallery below.

Cite: Rosenfield, Karissa. "Best Architect-Designed Products of Milan Design Week 2013" 12 Apr 2013. ArchDaily. Accessed 30 May 2015. <>