SHAPES OF TOMORROW
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Discover how IWC’s Chief Design Officer, Christian Knoop, finds inspiration at Milan’s Salone del Mobile
The Milan Design Week has transformed the original Salone del Mobile from a furniture design fair into the leading fair of design and creativity. More and more brands, artists, design schools, and individual creatives use the platform for display and exchange. Over the recent years, brands from other industries such as electronics, fashion, automotive, and luxury have recognized the potential and influential target audience of this fair, utilizing the opportunities to present their latest concepts and visions.
During my recent visit to Milan, I dedicated two days to discovering modern creators, artists, craftsmen and visionaries who deeply resonate with the principles and vision of the new IWC Ingenieur philosophy. It was a remarkable journey that bridged the past, present and future.
— IWC Chief Design Officer, Christian Knoop
NEVER FORGET YOUR ORIGIN
When IWC commissioned Gerald Genta to design the Ingenieur SL, Reference 1832, it sparked inspiration for the retro-futuristic Ingenieur Automatic 40. Genta’s genius embodied the Seventies’ commitment to the future, emphasizing simplicity, timeless aesthetics, user-friendliness and responsible use of resources. Building upon the “Less, but better” philosophy popularized by Dieter Rams and detailed in his “Ten Principles of Good Design”, everyday objects like cars, furniture, electrical appliances and watches exemplified a minimalist mindset that influenced designers for generations.
Embracing this spirit, we adopted “Form und Technik” as the IWC Ingenieur ethos, paying homage to the era and safeguarding the enduring forward-thinking nature of our brand. This is why I decided to challenge myself and headed to the most influential design event worldwide: the Milan Design Week. I wanted to find out how the new generation of designers is shaping the future, how they regard the increasing use of AI in design, and how this influences the way they create new forms and explore new techniques.
I have been attending the Salone del Mobile regularly for many years, but this social and cultural perspective provides me with a fresh outlook on the myriad creative expressions that extend beyond individual product inspiration.
INSPIRED OUTSIDE THE BOX
In the context of the Ingenieur launch, we have delved into IWC’s design history and discussed the role of design within the cultural context. I have been attending the Salone del Mobile regularly for many years, but this social and cultural perspective provides me with a fresh outlook on the myriad creative expressions that extend beyond individual product inspiration.
Many Salone visitors seek creative stimulation, and the show offers it at various levels and in different forms. Personally, I find inspiration in unexpected places, even if I can’t immediately pinpoint how it will influence my ongoing creative projects in Schaffhausen. Leading the creative team, we cover a wide scope of work encompassing watches, brand expression, communication, displays, packaging, and architecture. I oversee the many facets that can inspire elements like dials, straps, packaging, displays, or product presentation. The magnitude of inspiration in Milan is truly remarkable.
— Looking for inspiration during the Salone del Mobile
— Christian Knoop wearing the Ingenieur Automatic 40 IW328904 made from titanium
NARRATIVE AND SUSTAINABILITY
A prominent theme at Design Week is a new perspective on sustainability, explored through diverse channels such as materials and processes, and innovative form factors. Sustainable materials, including organic and recycled resources, as well as new technologies and material development, contribute to this movement. As sustainability aligns with our brand vision at IWC, it serves as a significant source of inspiration for us.
The narrative element is fascinating as numerous captivating projects and stories unfold here. Given the enormous density of exhibitions, shows, and projects, it is crucial to convey your story in a fast, effective, and captivating manner. This challenge is met by both artists and designers at the fair. As a brand, it inspires us to effectively communicate our products, skills and values in just a few words, images, or short films.
The Salone showcases an unparalleled concentration and diversity of creative talent. It serves as a vibrant festival of creativity, uniting individuals from various nationalities and artistic backgrounds.
CRAFTING IS CARING
Craftsmanship is a truly fascinating aspect to me – I love it. As a designer working for a watch manufacturer, I’m captivated by the process that not only involves aspects of design and aesthetics, but also history, feasibility and technicality. The Salone showcases an unparalleled concentration and diversity of creative talent. It serves as a vibrant festival of creativity, uniting individuals from various nationalities and artistic backgrounds. This affirms that creativity is nourished by sharing, exchanging, presenting, receiving feedback, and observing others. The Design Week thus acts as a catalyst for ideas.
TASTE OF THE FUTURE
The Salone gave me a taste of how designers, brands and artists express their visions of the future. For me, the vision is bigger than a trend. It translates cultural, ecological and social developments into products that are designed and made for future contexts. When it comes to the Ingenieur, Genta also took into consideration the iconic design spirit of the Seventies. Creative minds, whether watch, car, furniture or appliance designers, all upheld the same vision in terms of progressive outlook to the future. They aimed to transform new materials and processes into fresh aesthetic expressions.
— Christian Knoop at the Salone del Mobile during Milan Design Week
Doppia Firma – Michelangelo Foundation & Fondazione Cologni
Dropcity - Centro di Architettura e Design
ADI Design Museum
Numero 51 - Concept Gallery
Artist duo K-narf & Shoko
Pictures by Riccardo Fantoni Montana