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Six designs to see at the 2021 Isola Design Festival

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Isola Design Festival

Lipstick made from algae and lampshades grown from bacteria feature at Isola Design Festival, a six-month event dedicated to emerging designers and independent studios that culminates during Milan design week.

Organised by Isola Design District, one of the districts that make up Milan design week each year, Isola Design Festival is a hybrid event that has been running since April as a digital festival. It will culminate with a physical show during Milan design week, which starts tomorrow.

The platform was developed by the founders of Isola Design District as a response to the coronavirus pandemic, which prevented physical events and exhibitions from taking place in 2020.

“We didn’t give up,” said Gabriele Cavallaro, co-founder and CEO of Isola Design Group. “We wanted to switch a critical situation into a new opportunity so we began a digitalization process that led us to launch our curated online platform.”

“Our aim was to support the designers in our community through such a hard period. Twelve months later, we can say that we reached our goal.”

In total 350 designer’s profiles and almost 700 projects feature on Isola Design District’s digital platform, a selection of which will be showcased at Isola Design Festival’s physical event during Milan Design Week from 5-10 September.

The selected works explore experimental design processes “that can be related to the product itself or either its production process,” according to Elif Resitoglu, co-founder and creative director of Isola Design Group.

Here we’ve picked six designers’ work featured on the Isola Design District’s online platform that will also be part of the physical event in Milan.


Algalip by Eleonora Rombolà

Algalip by Eleonora Rombolà

Algalip is a lipstick made from algae by Eleonora Rombolà. According to Rombolà, many commercial lipsticks are made from harmful petroleum-based chemicals. As an alternative, Algalip is a collection of lipsticks where both its paste and packaging are made from algae.

“Microalgae can be a rich and sustainable source of diverse valuable compounds, which can be turned into oil, butter and a range of coloured pigments,” said Rombolà.

Algalip will be on show at the Materialized exhibition, Pastrengo 7, Milan.


Click by Zerocollective

Click by Zerocollective

Click by design collective Zerocollective is a series of sculptural furniture pieces made with pastel-coloured modular pieces. The systems are designed to reduce noise levels in the home.

“We are getting used to a new normal where our daily habits and privacy are increasingly conditioned by the rooms available and the number of people we live with,” said Zerocollective.

“This novelty in the interior sector challenges the traditional design standards and paves the way for less conventional proposals to manage the micro-spaces of our homes.”

Click can be viewed at the Playful, Young, Design exhibition, De Castillia 26, Milan.


Marecreo – Autarky Furniture by Aurore Piette Studio

Marecreo – Autarky Furniture by Aurore Piette Studio

Marecreo is a furniture project by French designer Aurore Piette made up of raw materials found on the coastline. Piette uses driftwood covered in natural plant-based materials collected from a local nature reserve.

“Directly inspired by nature, Aurore Piette develops a neo craft by coworking with her close environment,” said the Aurore Piette Studio.

“This unique collaboration between human and nature results in an atypical vision of interior design.”

Marecreo – Autarky Furniture is available to see at Nature’s Whispers exhibition, Copernico Isola building, Sassetti 32, Milan.


Luna by Studio Lionne Van Deursen

Luna by Studio Lionne Van Deursen

Luna is a lampshade made from cellulose designed by Studio Lionne Van Deursen. The studio grew the material from microbes using bacteria and yeast via a fermentation process.

“After the growing process, we experimented with different natural plant dyes and dyes made from fruit waste,” explained the studio.

“This material archive results in a collection of fabrics with different colours, translucency and textures.”

Luna by Studio Lionne Van Deursen is on show at Materialized exhibition, Pastrengo 7, Milan.


Chair Slurp by Jean-Baptiste Anotin

Chair Slurp by Jean-Baptiste Anotin

Chair Slurp by Jean-Baptiste Anotin’s studio Waiting for Ideas looks like an oversized aluminium straw and is made from seven aluminium tubes welded together.

“The entire chair is polished multiple times to get its natural mirror effect,” said Jean-Babiste Anotin. “In addition, the chair gets a chemical treatment, and finally, the purple colour is applied.”

Chair Slurp is available to view at The Stage Four exhibition, Sassetti 31, Milan.


Couch-19 by Tobia Zambotti

Couch-19 by Tobia Zambotti

Couch-19 was made from discarded disposable masks and recyclable crystal PVC. It is described as “an iceberg-shaped modular pouffe made with single-use masks collected from the streets,” by designer Tobia Zambotti.

Used masks were collected then disinfected with colourless gas called ozone before being used as the furniture stuffing. Its irregular shape ensures that the “icy” colours of the masks reference an iceberg, “one of the most iconic symbols of global warming”, according to Zambotti.

“Italy, one of the European countries hit hardest by Covid-19, faces a big problem due to this kind of pollution,” said the designer. “The project highlights this environmental issue in a creative way involving locals and asking them to pick up disposable masks from the streets or storing the ones they use daily.”

Couch-19 is available to see at the Isola Design Gallery exhibition in Sassetti 31, Milan.


The Isola Design Festival takes place 5-10 September 2021 in Milan. See Dezeen Events Guide for an up-to-date list of architecture and design events taking place around the world.

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