A handful of car marques came to Milan this year to exhibit inspired collaborative work as part of Salone del Mobile. Lexus took over a vast space in La Triennale di Milano to showcase the annual Lexus Design Awards for young creatives displayed alongside a visually absorbing light installation by architect Neri Oxman. Across town inside the UniCredit Pavilion, set amidst a riot of pop colours, equally colourful Fiat heir Lapo Elkann unveiled BMWi MemphisStyle (pictured)– two unique cars based on the electric i3 and i8 to celebrate Milan’s provocative 1980s postmodern movement and its main advocate, the Memphis Group. Here’s our gallery of some of this year’s auto-inspired exhibits from Salone del Mobile...
Lapo Elkann and his Garage Italia Customs worked with BMW and the Italian designer Michele de Lucchi to create BMWi MemphisStyle – two unique cars based on the electric i3 and i8. These made-to-order bespoke art cars celebrate Milan’s provocative postmodern movement and its main advocate here, the Memphis Group.The cars on display inside UniCredit Pavilion are a riot of vibrant pop colours and hypnotic patterns with oblique, horizontal and vertical lines running along intersection with sharp surface contrasts as an expression of rebellion from the rigid standards of traditional design. The blocks of colour are perfectly aligned so that the geometric shapes flawlessly follow the curves of the two cars.
Working predominantly in the 1980s, the Memphis Group and its founder Ettore Sottsass were provocative, rebelling against functionalism of the time. Co-founder De Lucchi says the group set out to break away from the rules of composition and of styles. ‘We wanted to be shocking and to create a new way of designing.’ Elkann says: ‘The collaboration has given me the opportunity to celebrate my great passion for the Memphis artists I have been collecting significant works of art from this movement for quite a while and they surround me and inspire me in my everyday life.’ Following the Milan debut, BMW i8 MemphisStyle will be exhibited at Frieze New York.
Ancient Yet Modern by Lexus
Architects and interdisciplinary designer Neri Oxman of MIT Media Lab presents Ancient Yet Modern at the entrance to the Lexus pavilion at La Triennale di Milano. The light installation is inspired by ‘Yet’, the Lexus design philosophy that encourages the creative team to harmonise seemingly contradictory elements. Informed predominantly by nature, Oxman’s work also focuses on fusing seemingly disparate aspects.
Ancient Yet Modern by Lexus
Here, Oxman is expressing the Lexus philosophy in an immersive multi-dimensional installation of light and shadow brought together by a novel technology, an architectural-scale 3D printed glass created with her research team the Mediated Matters Group. Her Milan installation made viewers feel simultaneously grounded and suspended through the wave-like movement of light.
Breathe by MINI Living
Addressing the quality of urban life, MINI Living – Breathe by New York architect SO-IL proposes a building that connects its inhabitants to their environment, and forms the third project in the project initiated by the carmaker last year.
Pixel by Lexus
Pixel by Japanese spatial architect Hiroto Yoshizoe works with using light and shadow to evolve a space and create various moods and environments. The modular, stackable structure was designed to perfectly reflect and translate the incoming light into soft imagery. Yoshizoe offers: ‘What you see looks very digital but what’s happening is a very traditional analogue technique of reflection so the light enters the structure, reflects inside and is outputted to appears to be digital.’
Pixel by Lexus
Pixel is this year’s winner of the Lexus Design Awards. Introduced five years ago to help nourish young designers and stimulate future ideas, the awards have become a Salone fixture. The installation responds to the Lexus ‘Yet’ theme by finding harmony in opposing elements. Mentored by the New York-based studio Snarkitecture, Yoshizoe discovered ways in which his ideas can have practical applications too. Installed as a pixel wall in an art museum, for instance, impressions of the objects on display at night can be seen from the outside so the building lights up the environment ‘like a lantern,’ he offers.
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