I am launching a new series of posts: Product Briefs. Designers and makers might use these visual briefs to create new products or to promote existing ones. This one is the best example of a great gift-finding challenge: the boyfriend. It’s my boyfriend birthday tomorrow and it’s always difficult to find a present for him that is original and won’t break the bank. If you have a product that fits the brief, email-me and the best ones will make it my Pinterest. By the way, I have a present for tomorrow but Xmas is nearly round the corner!

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Why go to Milan?

The Salone is a city in itself and the event an ecosystem. It is the biggest design, business and marketing festival. Zona Tortona and Porta Genova, once off the beaten track, are cashing hard on their past credentials. If you want to find interesting design material there, you have to brave the human sea and dodge flyers and non-events.

The Fiera has a different dynamic. It is a completely artificial design city on the edge of Milan. The big guys are here to build big empire-looking stands and to take big orders. While the plebe looks, take pictures and might be allowed to touch, there are big negotiations being held in half hidden VIP areas, awash with fine food, fizzy wine or strong coffee.

It took many attempts to find a comfortable chair or sofa at the fair. With the prevalence of social media, quick pictures take over experiencing design first hand. Although it is a way to absorb as much design as possible when you know you’re missing much more than you are seeing.

Shall we be worried that design interactions should limit themselves to a visual and quick capture?

The more established brands hire a big design name for a one-off piece in order to sell the back catalogue and gain exposure. At the other end of the design spectrum: design schools, fresh graduates, design collectives and design studios hope to benefit from the heavyweights’ proximity. The distraction to-hand there is the Satellite; rows of orderly laid out stands quietly hoping for customers to place miracle orders.

Salone Satellite

Marteen Baas’ circus show was both a caricature and commentary of what Milan is about. The Dutch Designer with a very arts-and-crafts approach to design was showing in the heart of the financial district, disturbing or distracting the peace of the nearby carabinieri station.

Marteen Baas in Milan

The distractions work like a computer game: be distracted – as it’s the only way to discover, be focused, keep going, follow the crowd or go off on a side street, find something or be disappointed.

The pressure is on for everyone to show the latest new thing in Milan, if furniture orders were taken after April, some home-ware companies will actually sell in Paris in September.

I found a few quiet pockets of design tucked away in Zona Tortona: Dutch designers, eco design, bamboo forest and students projects, studio piu’s Thailand stand.

Rice plastic

And IKEA was nowhere to be seen though. Maybe their staff was trawling the capital, like the rest of us, to ‘find inspiration’ and spot the next-small-big-product to enter their gigantic stores. Product designers looking for a design brief and collaborations are already working on shaping Milan 2015.



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I am increasingly more confident that high quality products can be manufactured throughout India and not just in Rajasthan.  The day after I visited the Furniture Fair in Bangalore, I went to Kynkyny Gallery, initially to see paintings, but found myself pleasantly intrigued by the furniture also on display. I was told that all pieces were made in Bangalore.

I decided to go back and meet the owners Vivek and Namrata Radhakrishnan. While Namrata oversees the artistic exhibitions, Vivek is in charge of the design and production of the furniture. Vivek and Namrata set up their company in Bangalore after leaving New York 7 years ago.

Bangalore was then the city of all things happening in India; a perfect opportunity for a new brand of furniture to exist in an art gallery.

Vivek explained that there are several challenges in providing products of quality to a market; first in finding people able to produce them and then identifying people who appreciate and buy them.

Rather than setting up a workshop around a design, Vivek’s furniture is designed to best exploit the capacity of his production unit. The pieces are plain, simple and practical, detailed and finished to the highest standards.

There is a big divide between Indian manufacturers who cater for the western market and those who target the Indian market. Kynkyny’s ambition is to bridge that gap and bring Indian-made quality design to the Indian market. India is shifting from a culture of buying as cheap as possible to one which purchases the most expensive brands. This is somewhat  ironic as local brands that propose new products need to earn their seal of quality from overseas markets.  Vivek admits that the majority of his clientele comes from Bangalore’s large expat community. When his clients move on or back home they take their purchases with them.

Still, Vivek would not be here today if he did not firmly believe that his home country can produce anything to the highest standard.

In Vivek’s opinion most things, if not everything, can be manufactured in India. For him, it is a matter of requesting the highest quality and not fledging – I would add that you need to be very clear about what you expect. You can find a manufacturing outlet in India without an agent, but finding good intermediaries along the way is crucial.

The great news for European designers is that Vivek is a key person when it comes to prototype and scaling up production.

If you want to find out more about Kynkyny you can contact them through their website.
If you have questions about your product feasibility or about this post, please contact Marion.

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