During Design Week 2023, Triennale Milano presents Mother-of-Pearl Tables, the exhibition where contemporary design meets ancient Eastern craft traditions
During Design Week 2023, Triennale Milano will host Mother-of-Pearl Tables, an exhibition sponsored by South Korean art gallery Duson Gallery Seoul. The exhibition will showcase six small tables made of Jagae, traditional Korean mother-of-pearl, designed by six international designers in collaboration with artisans from Tongyeong, South Korea.
Design Week 2023: the unmissable show at Triennale Milano
Curated by Yangsoo Kim and Younghee Cha, Mother-of-Pearl Tables will be running from April 18 to 23, from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., at Triennale Milano. Marking the meeting of East and West, the exhibition is the result of the collaboration of Duson Gallery Seoul with six internationally renowned designers: Alessandro Mendini, Elena Salmistraro, Marcel Wanders, Marco Zanuso Jr, Stefano Giovannoni, Youghee Cha. Therefore, this is a cross-cultural project combining the centuries-old South Korean tradition of mother-of-pearl craftsmanship with contemporary design.
Designs on show
Foglia is a coffee table based on an original drawing by Alessandro Mendini from 2016 preserved in the sketch collection of his Archive. The glossy black lacquered wood top features a leaf-shaped mother-of-pearl decoration crafted in the Korean tradition by highly skilled master artisans. The central leg, on the other hand, made of two-tone pink and yellow lacquered wood, is star-shaped.
Elena Salmistraro’s Molan coffee table transforms the shape of the Gat, a Korean traditional hat, into a unique design object. Molan’s shape is sleek and enveloping, while its smooth, polished surface shines through the fine mother-of-pearl decorations reinterpreting the ancient Korean tradition in a contemporary way. Mother-of-pearl is used to create intricate patterns that are also strongly inspired by tradition. The top is smooth and even thanks to a non-obscuring glass plate that enhances the elegance and lightness of the object. Lastly, the coffee table is accompanied by solid and simple elements that make it compact and impressive.
The Fiore Fossile side table, by Marcel Wanders, is inspired by one of nature’s most primal and perfect forms, that of a black pebble set among rocks. A simple and pure form revealed through mother-of-pearl flower- and petal-shaped ornaments.
Soban, the ancient Korean small table
On the other hand, Soban, designed by Marco Zanuso Jr, is a contemporary take on the Soban, the traditional Korean table-tray in lacquered wood. An object used since ancient times as an individual dining table, tea tray, desk, or even as an altar for memorial rites.
A symbol of Korean craftsmanship, the soban combines elegance, refinement and functionality. The same characteristics that inspired Marco Zanuso Jr in designing his coffee table for Duson Gallery Seoul. Soban has an oval top made of dark red lacquered walnut wood, inlaid with small mother-of-pearl dot decorations. In contrast, the base, made of Canaletto Walnut and Zebrano wood slats, gives verticality to the object and emphasizes its extreme lightness.
The cherry tree and the tribute to Tongyeong
Designed by Stefano Giovannoni, the Cherry Tree table is inspired by the form of the cherry treen, a traditional Eastern symbol. It is in fact characterized by extremely sinuous shapes and made of ash wood. The base of the table narrows toward the top until it opens up and becomes the tabletop. The top, decorated with mother-of-pearl branches and flowers, is reminiscent of the thick foliage of the cherry tree. Moreover, Cherry Tree is available in two versions: a lighter-colored one that plays with the warm color of mother-of-pearl, and a darker one that accentuates the contrast of light and shadow.
Lastly, Ocean, by Younghee Cha, is a coffee table with a natural black lacquered wood with two functions. Thanks to its two heights, it can be used individually or in pairs. With it, the Korean designer wanted to pay a tribute to Tongyeong, a prime location for the harvesting of the mother-of-pearl abalone shellfish. This is why the coffee table top features two sea-inspired motifs: the first is inspired by the tracks of the waves crashing on the shoreline, while the second recalls the shiny shells on the sea floor.