Milan has become something of a 3D printing design hub in recent years, largely thanks to the occurrence of prestigious events such as the Salone del Mobile, a furniture expo held every Spring in Italy’s capital of fashion and design. Last year, for instance, the Salone del Mobile’s showstopper was a 3D printed house located in Milan’s central square, Piazza Cesare Beccaria—which 3DPBM founder Davide Sher had the chance to see firsthand.
This year, there is no doubt that one of the event’s biggest crowd-pullers will be a 3D printed installation by French architect Arthur Mamou-Mani, who is known for his large-scale parametric sculptures and structures.
Mamou-Mani was enlisted by London design brand COS to create something spectacular in the Palazzo Isimbardi, a historic Milan landmark dating back to the 16th century. The project, to be unveiled in April, will reportedly consist of pyramid-like architectures built from 3D printed bioplastic bricks. When complete, the structures will form a walkway from the Palazzo’s central courtyard to its back garden.
The architect will leverage his expertise in parametric design—exemplified so perfectly in the the intricate, twisting temple he built for Burning Man in 2018—for the Milanese project. More specifically, the repeating form of the bricks is generated using open-source parametric design tools.
The COS-commissioned installation aims to create a journey, Mamou-Mani explains, between the interior and the exterior of the Palazzo. More than that, it also results in an interesting juxtaposition between the traditional building materials of the historic building—marble and stone—and the bioplastic bricks, emphasizing the permanence of the former and the ephemerality of the latter. The final installation will also feature an on-site 3D printer and various interactive elements.
“The common threads of inspiration this year were new craft and innovation,” said COS creative director Karin Gustafsson. “What we liked about [Mamou-Mani’s] work was that the process informed the end result—which is how we work as well.”
This will be the eighth collaboration between COS and the Salone del Mobile, but the first to utilize 3D printing. Last year, the clothing brand unveiled a playful mirrored sculpture by Phillip K. Smith III, and the year before its installation consisted of a white metal tree that emitted mist and perfume-filled bubbles.
Notable about this year’s upcoming exhibition is the focus on materials and, specifically, biomaterials. “There is an awareness of materials that is starting to come back in architecture,” Mamou-Mani explained. “Bioplastics have a much lower carbon footprint than conventional plastics, and unlike petrol-based plastic, they are entirely compostable.”
The ecological aspect of the installation is further reinforced by the 3D printer being on-site, which will reduce transportation emissions and costs. We’ll be sure to visit Mamou-Mani’s 3D printed installation during the Salone del Mobile, which will be held from April 9 to 14, 2019.