Let's continue the Memphis Milano thread that started on Tuesday with a post dedicated to another exhibition linked with the Italian design group, an event that will celebrate Abet Laminati at Milan's Triennale during the local Design Week.
Curated by Paola Navone, "Abet Laminati - Una Città Immaginaria" (Abet Laminates - An Imaginary City, 4th - 9th April 2017) is conceived as a free exhibition that will offer visitors the chance to celebrate the 60th anniversary of this company.
A.B.E.T. (Anonima Braidese Estratti Tannici) was founded in 1946 as a tannin extraction joint-stock company. In the mid-'50s it was converted to the production of laminates, reinventing itself year after year. After creating in 1964 the trademark Abet Print, the company launched new collaborations with architects, artists ad designers.
In a 1972 exhibition Abet reunited projects and ideas by Sottsass, Archizoom Associati, Superstudio, George Sowden and Clino Trini Castelli, that focused on the concept of neutral surfaces. The event looked at one main characteristic of the laminates: being adaptable and versatile, they are indeed neutral surfaces without any well-defined tradition or historical implication - laminates can therefore be used to develop new stimuli and perceptions.
In the '70s Superstudio designed the texture "Quaderna" for Abet that was then applied to their "Misura" series comprising conceptual pieces of furniture in which a squared grid was recreated in a variety of scales.
Further innovations in the '70s included the Lumiphos laminate, a phosphorescent photo-luminescent decorative laminate created in collaboration with Clino Trini Castelli, the Reli-tech, the first three-dimensional laminate, and the Stratitex, a laminate with a textile surface that combined textile finishings with the ease of application of ordinary laminates.
Between 1978 and 1980 Sottsass reunited a series of decorative motifs for furniture pieces in a notebook, some of them represent the starting point for his most famous textures such as bacterio, that became a reality in the early '80s together with the other Memphis Milan patterns and textures.
In Why a Film about Michele De Lucchi? directed by Alessio Bozzer the Italian architect, designer and member of the Memphis Milano movement remembers how Sottsass used to love plastic laminates because they reminded him of simple unpretentious furniture and of the interior design of the "latterie" (dairy shops) from the '50s.
Since laminates could easily be printed incorporating patterns and bright colours, they allowed Memphis Milano to play with new technologies while liberating their fantasy and imagination. This material became therefore the key to unlock a new figurative language for the design group.
Throughout the years Abet kept on constantly renewing itself, winning several awards and keeping on launching innovative materials including "Diafos" (1987) a see-through laminate with three-dimentional, decorations, "Tefor", a sort of recycled laminate and, in more recent years, a laminate that incorporated Swarovski crystals.
At the Triennale it wll be possible to see 60 years of laminates that characterised the history of Italian design through iconic pieces, such as the "Carlton" library by Ettore Sottsass, while designs made for this event will show the evolutions in the history of the company.
The installation inside the Triennale spaces will comprise a series of buildings opening onto a square (a set in some ways reminiscent of Archizoom's model for the 1972 "Neutral Surface" exhibition), each of them telling the story of a different decade of Abet products. This urban space will tell a series of tangible, fantastic and colourful design tales, but visitors will be reminded that these are never-ending stories as laminates can be endlessly reinvented.
Expect therefore the company to reappear soon in a fashion collaboration near you (could it be a collection or a feature/set for a runway show? Who knows...). Nothing is confirmed, but it's obviously in the air.