For over half a century, MINI has dedicated itself to efficient and innovative design with practical yet stylish results. MINI Space is on the scene at the 51st Annual Salone del Mobile in Milan, Italy — one of the world’s premier design festivals and a must-see for anyone wanting to keep tabs on the latest concepts and aesthetic approach to everything from furniture to automobiles. The MINI Space team has just hit the ground here to bring you an insider’s look at what MINI and other leaders in the design industry are showcasing as best of the best.
On display as part of the Fuori Salone in the INTERNI Legacy exhibition is COLOUR ONE for MINI by the Dutch design duo Scholten & Baijings. In close cooperation with the MINI Design Team, a strikingly unique concept was developed to creatively express some design fundamentals key to the MINI brand.
Sometimes when you look at a MINI — with its expressive and personable composition — you swear it’s about to talk to you. This kind of emotional impact is what many of us love about the car, but how exactly is this enticing visual harmony achieved? That’s the question Stefan Scholten and Carole Baijings set to answer as they got to work examining — and reimagining — a MINI One.
Their findings? Though a MINI One can be approached as a undivided whole, Stefan and Carole observed that in fact there is a symphony of carefully crafted features at work, each playing an important role in defining that distinguished and instantly recognizable character. The installation stands in the middle of a cavernous hall, strategically lit with spotlights highlighting select parts of the exhibit. Reminiscent of Duchamp’s ready-mades, individual pieces of the MINI One are detached and presented independently to allow more thorough contemplation. Dubbed “Art Parts” by the design team, many pieces rest on the floor or stand on gloss-white pedestals. In the middle of it all, a matte-white, perforated shell appears to float, putting on an ethereal performance as the centerpiece.
This isn’t simply a car deconstructed for candid analysis, however. Scholten & Baijings bring their own voice to the project by applying a signature color palette of whites juxtaposed with carefully accented neon accents, sometimes employing obscure materials to further disassociate a particular component from any vehicular notions. This works to draw attention to the part’s own unique and beautiful shape. The wheel, for example, is a specialized cast resin, produced in cooperation with industrial designer and polyester specialist Vincent de Rijk. It nearly glows and at first glance — “tire” is the last thing that comes to mind.
Elsewhere, nods are also given to the car’s famous rally heritage, with specially-tailored fabrics lining seats and seatbelts, and the exhibition booth recalls a stylized racing paddock. Collectively, despite the diaspora of car parts across the exhibition area, a new and solid expression of unity takes shape as you walk through and around it. You find yourself circling it, and something like a stylized MINI One solar system is born, each part carefully placed to balance the others, with everything revolving around that gossamer shell.
In the MINI One, Scholten & Baijings and MINI Design found the perfect candidate for examining the elements of MINI. Do the parts add up to the whole, or is the spirit of the brand imbued completely into every single component, large and small? You might not be able to race this MINI through the winding stradas of Milan, but I think the success of the project is that it’s still definitely a MINI — and quite possibly one of the most unique ones out there, at that.
It’s just day one for taking in the sights at Salone del Mobile 2012 and there’s almost too much to explore. Check in throughout the rest of the week for more exclusive coverage of this exciting festival. Watch for exclusive galleries on the Facebook pages of MINI and MINI Space, and get up-to-the-minute discoveries by following us on Twitter.
If you’re in the area, COLOUR ONE runs until 28 April 2012 as part of the INTERNI Legacy exhibition at the University of Milan. Be sure not to miss it!