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Milan Design Week 2015: Fabrica and Daikin explore the essence of air at FUHA

Milan Design Week this year was a feast of experience design: from swings at Caesarstone to scent in Brera, the week was filled with things to do, games to play, and rain to taste (at Lexus, in the form of popping candy). Fabrica’s collaboration with Japanese air conditioning brand Daikin was at the quieter end of the scale.

Called FUHA – a combination of the sound we make when we blow on hot food, and the sound we make when we try to warm cold hands – the show explored air and breath, giving shape to sensations that are usually formless and silent.

Italian designers FormaFantasma worked with Fabrica’s young research team on both concept and aesthetics, resulting in a series of elegant, refined projects that bring intellectual and emotional weight to their subject. Each designers’ breath is on display at the beginning of the exhibition, captured in a glass jar, as a way to introduce the people behind the pieces.

A series of paper kites (pictured top and below) explore air’s capacity to direct; made of patterned paper, the objects gently vibrate as air passes by them.

Movement and growth are captured in ink by a collection of five drawings that show the effect of the wind on the development of a tree. The same tree is depicted in each, becoming progressively stronger and more defined. Mounted to the wall at the top, the paper is mostly free to move, so that it can react to the breeze in the gallery space.

A mechanical contraption uses tools of movement – fans, bellows and umbrellas – made in light, tactile materials such as wood, paper and fabric. A fan moves the water inside the wooden cart, activating a series of smaller fans to cause a gentle flurry of activity.

Also exploring the role of air in transmitting sound, white shell-inspired ceramics are mounted on linen pillows; visitors are invited to pick up one of the shapes and listen to the sound inside it.

Sculptural pieces contrast heavy, rigid materials with the lightness of air: mirrored metal sheets encase an air balloon, while a granite cone and pink brass tray anchor a white helium balloon.

The most interactive piece of the show enables guests to print out their breath as a custom-made drawing. At the first station, they blow over a tank of water; a scanner captures the breath, while a series of LED lights trace the intensity of the air over the water. At the second station, a printer spools out a drawing of the breath, to be taken away as a keepsake.

Exhibition photos by Marco Zanin.

WGSN Lifestyle & Interiors subscribers can read more about Milan Design Week in our trend analysis reports from Fuorisalone and Salone del Mobile. Our review of the best experience design across the show will be live next week.

– Sarah Housley

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