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Designs created by aaltonians on display at the Milan furniture fair

An Italian designer and a Japanese architect are presenting their collaboration, inspired by the Finnish culture, at the "Salone del Mobile" in Milan in April. Other design projects from Aalto are on display at the INTERDEPENDENCE exhibition.
Two men dressed in dark clothes sit in the middle of furniture they have designed
Shunsuke Koya (left.) and Federico Fiermonte. Photo: Konsta Klemetti

Shunsuke Koya is a Japanese architect and Federico Fiermonte a designer and artist from Italy, both based in Helsinki, Finland for several years.

Their works will be on display in the Milan Design Week, at the fair "Salone del Mobile" in the SaloneSatellite 2024 section.

The architect and designer share common values and views on aesthetics. They have found each other while studying at Aalto University School of Arts, Design and Architecture, and this is one of their joint projects.

‘Going to Milan is a very big project. Despite us having different practices, this exhibition is very much a collaboration, we created the whole together. It’s showcasing designs from both of us, and they form an entity’, the duo says.

While studying and working in Finland they say they’ve learned a lot of the Finnish culture as well as of Finnish design and furniture culture. It shows in the appreciative way they think of materials, that are at the very core of their design, and in giving credit to craftmanship. Concrete, wood and metal are materials that have a strong connection in all their projects.

‘We want to underline the fact that our learning, you can see it in our lines. Scandinavian, Nordic culture has a lot to give to that. Our design is based on natural and settled values, delicate colours and local materials’, Fiermonte and Koya explain.

Finding the spirit of the material

Furniture in a set
Designs by Fiermonte and Koya are on display at Salone Satellite in Milan.

What all the duo’s works have in common is that it catches the eye and when one observes it, they can see the idea behind the design.

Their designs aim at minimizing material consumption and giving them timeless qualities. Shunsuke Koya calls this idea “Genius Materia”, the spirit of the material. Experimentation with materials plays a key role in Federico Fiermonte’s practice, bringing materials such as ceramics, concrete, and metals to their limits in the projects.

The duo’s contribution for the satellite award in Milan is an entity called “Immaterial”, formed by a loudspeaker, ”Lähde”, and a spiral-shaped lamp, “Spira”. 

‘The idea is to let light and sound shape the objects. The plasticity of concrete and its delicate use visualizes the flow of intangible matters, challenging the bulky use of concrete’, the designers describe.

Both of these projects were originally developed in the Product & Form course, organized by Aalto’s Department of Design. The goal on this course is to develop an idea of a product and then find a form language that is as pure as possible and faithful to the materials. 

The course teacher, industrial designer Simo Puintila, encourages students to go and exhibit their designs in events like Milan Design Week. 

‘It is really rewarding as a teacher to see how our talented students have continued to develop their ideas further and I can’t wait to see their exhibits in Salon de Satellite’, says Puintila.

For the Milan exhibition the duo has got a grant from the Finnish Furniture Fund. 

A loudspeaker and a lamp made of concrete
Design by Fiermonte and Koya: a loudspeaker "Lähde" and a lamp "Spira", made of concrete

Design matters and creates connections

Aalto’s Department of Design, will also participate in the INTERDEPENDENCE exhibition, coordinated by Politecnico di Milano. The exhibition highlights the importance of design in creating connections between different disciplines, institutions and actors in an ever more interdependent world.

In the exhibition, Aalto showcases the Mobile Stroke Unit MRI, a mobile magnetic imaging unit, Touch Music, a loudspeaker that enables sensing the sound via touch and BioMAT MATTERS, a mattress made of biodegradable foam. The works have been researched and produced in the Collaborative and industrial design, Contemporary design and the ChemArts study programmes at Aalto University.

Read more:

Salone Satellite, Rho Fiera Milano, Corso Italia, Rho, Stand A20. The exhibition will be open from April 16 to April 21.

Salone del Mobile Interdependence exhibition at FABBRICA DEL VAPORE, Via Proccacini 4, Milan. Opening hours: Tue April 16 – Sat April 20: 11 am to 10 pm and Sun April 21: 11 am to 5 pm.

Interdependence exhibition 

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