Technology has appeared in various displays or integrated in different objects showcased during Milan Design Week (the event closed yesterday), but it took centre stage at the Panasonic's "Electronics Meets Crafts" showcase at the Accademia di Belle Arti di Brera. The main point of this display was actually combining traditional Japanese craftsmanship with technology.
Panasonic's projectors, speakers, and lighting created the mood for the exhibition, but human touch was added via products designed and created by the GO ON collective.
A joint collaboration of Kyoto craftspeople who employ time-honoured techniques of Japanese crafts to create inspiring designs with international and contemporary appeal, the group employed traditional materials to come up with craft products inspired by the Japanese heritage.
The event opened in the Magnolia Courtyard of the Academy, with Panasonic's B2B audio and visual installation inspired by nature and the digital world and projected on a wide screen made with a fabric also employed to make kimonos.
The prototypes - mainly pieces that moved from a key environment, the Japanese tea house - were instead displayed in an underground corridor. In addition, students of the Academy created their own installations, using Panasonic's Space Player projectors for their own projects.
The prototypes on display included Kyo-zutsu, a hand-held speaker designed to look like a Japanese tea cup that turns on and off when its metal lid is removed (and the sound seems to evaporate in the air like the steam from a cup of tea); the Gettou, bamboo LED-lighting fixtures, in which the LED strips are perfectly camouflaged, almost woven, into the bamboo strips, creating an enchanting effect; Ginsa-no-shuki, a temperature-retaining wooden bucket with IH contact-less power supply technology and Ami-kouro, an electric incense burner made in titanium.
The Ori-no-hibiki seemed particularly interesting for fashion designers: this could be described as a sort of textile Theremin, a fabric that lets you generate music just by waving a hand over it. This sonorous tapestry integrates indeed silver and gold foil that reacts thanks to the body's static electricity.
At the time being there are no projects about releasing the prototypes into the market, but maybe rather than doing it, Panasonic should start experimenting more (like other technology companies have been doing so far...) with creative minds from other fields and disciplines, fashion included. A high-tech product such as the Ori-no-hibiki may indeed be essential in developing intriguing behavioural garments.
Who knows if Panasonic will opt for such collaborations; what we do know for the time being is that the potential of "Electronics Meets Crafts" was widely acknowledged during the Milanese design exhibition and the project won the "Best Storytelling" category at the Milano Design Award 2017.