A soft, warm, and bendable Bohemian crystal. A teddy bear in cold, hard and fragile leather. A marble table as light as veneered wood. These are some of the many oxymoronic objects on display in various venues in Milan during the 2023 Design Week
Alessandro AS XXII vase, Limited Alessandro Ciffo, vase HELLAS XXII, Limited Edition, at Rossana Orlandi
Contrasts, sought and aware or casual yet unexpected, are one of the most direct effects of a broader aesthetic trend that aims at mimesis. Through careful imitation work and artisanal or industrial know-how, silicones and resins come to look like crystals, ceramics like speckled leather and an mdf support can be mistaken for natural stone.
Dasol Lee, in Shift Craft – Object, at Rossana Orlandi
The mimetic effect is sometimes achieved, as in the last case described, using Artificial Intelligence in digital printing, as presented at Wonder Matter(s), a choral exhibition dedicated to materials and technologies capable of surprising that Materially organized during the 2023 Milan Design Week. The search for new two-dimensional decorations often starts from nature, captured through very high definition scans, and then reproduced randomly to create unusual patterns capable of maintaining the non-repetitiveness typical of nature on ideally endless surfaces.
Nature inspired digital prints on various supports, by Digital Design for Mille997, seen at Wonder Matter(s). Photo: Elena Galimberti
Another interesting technological trend that gives life to new aesthetic qualities goes beyond the purely decorative dimension and offers multi-sensory creations, where refined production processes make it possible to create haptic surfaces, which therefore imitate not only the visual aspect of a desired effect but also its reaction to the touch. Three-dimensionality of surfaces makes a leap from haptic to extreme 3D: the mimetic circle closes and thanks to the exaggeration of a geometric characteristic, the material is perceived as something other than itself.
Deep Surface Arpa Tuet
On the abstract decorative front, digital printing – often resulting from a design approach or proposed as a service to the end client’s vision – provides a significant customization potential. Classic collections revive, and complex or even kaleidoscopic polychrome visual themes get reproduced, expanding the horizon of graphic complexity.
Color becomes a supercolor in aggressive palettes previously relegated to reduced ranges. If MDF has already lost its original gray-beige connotations for years, new dyeing processes allow now to achieve unusual chromatic effects. From wide color palettes new materials and processes move on to dark shades, where wood and composite panels become black or anthracite thanks to the intervention of graphite or other additives, entering many and diversified fields of application, from small surfaces to kitchens.
g_cover: the innovative finishing for the veneer panels of Arclinea kitchens. Made with Alisea’s upgraded recycled graphite, through traceable supply chains, gives to the veneer a unique gray tone and increases resistance to UV rays. Photo: courtesy of Alisea Srl.