Milan Design Week 2009: Established & Sons

The British manufacturer Established & Sons vaulted onto the design scene just five years ago as if out of nowhere. Despite the cheekily ironic assertion of heritage suggested by their name, a rambling selection of products that makes up their ouevre to date gives a sense of a company yet in its infancy, with frequent missteps and disappointing additions among the gems that have put the brand in the limelight. That said, this year’s substantial exhibition during Salone del Mobile (they’ve been staging one for the past few years) featured a couple stand-outs.

I have to admit I found not only the exhibition display (a very Arne Quinze-like labyrinthine structure fashioned from wooden boards) but a few of the product additions to be quite refreshing. In particular, I was excited to see Maarten Baas continuing his collaboration with Established on one of his first production pieces, Standard Unique. A riff on his self-produced Sculpt series, similarly adolescent lines characterize the Standard Unique chair, but here Baas mixes and matches a standard assortment of parts lending perceived individuality to each chair.

Shay Alkalay’s eye-catching Stack (launched last year) made an appearance in a combination of natural woods, elevating the design from pure pop sensation to a consummate design expression. Other additions included a set of mirrors by Front Design, a new (if rather frivolous) sofa design by Sebastian Wrong and Richard Woods and a fantastical seating series by Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec.

Check out the slide show above for a brief glimpse into the exhibition.