Milantrace Moment: Dana Tomic Hughes with GamFratesi at MINDCRAFT16 | Yellowtrace

Mindcraft16 curated by GamFratesi, Milan Design Week, Photo © Nick Hughes | #MILANTRACE2016Mindcraft16 curated by GamFratesi, Milan Design Week, Photo © Nick Hughes | #MILANTRACE2016
Mindcraft16 curated by GamFratesi, Milan Design Week, Photo © Nick Hughes | #MILANTRACE2016Mindcraft16 curated by GamFratesi, Milan Design Week, Photo © Nick Hughes | #MILANTRACE2016

Inside MIDCRAFT16 curated by GamFratesi during Milan Design Week 2016. Photography © Nick Hughes/ Yellowtrace.

Mindcraft16 curated by GamFratesi, Milan Design Week, Photo © Nick Hughes | #MILANTRACE2016Mindcraft16 curated by GamFratesi, Milan Design Week, Photo © Nick Hughes | #MILANTRACE2016

The beautiful setting for MIDCRAFT16, set inside the historical Circolo Filologico Milanese. Photography © Nick Hughes/ Yellowtrace.


Some articles are easier to write than others. This one I’m finding difficult. I don’t know why. Clearly, you guys know by now how much I adore the work of Stine and Enrico of GamFratesi. They are more than design crushes now. I consider them friends, and perhaps therein lies the problem. I respect their work, their minds and their hearts so much, that I feel a heightened sense of responsibility with this post. But that doesn’t even makes sense! Still, that’s exactly how I feel.

On our first day at Milan Design Week 2016, we were incredibly fortunate to steal a little moment with Stine Gam and Enrico Fratesi, who were once again the curators and the designers of this year’s MINDCRAFT exhibition (their project last year can be seen here, and also here – once the installation travelled back to Denmark).

This year, GamFratesi framed the overall concept of MINDCRAFT16 with the theme – In My Mind Craft – providing an added dimension to the exhibition. They also hand picked a selection of the leading Danish designers and craftspeople with big international potential, and commissioned the work for the exhibition in Milan, with each designer interpreting the chosen theme in their individual works.

The combination of the words MIND and CRAFT highlighted the goal of the exhibition series, which was to showcase the capacity and potential of a field that spans from experimental, innovative and conceptual design to the technical proficiency and material knowledge from crafts.

For the location, Stine and Enrico chose the historical venue Circolo Filologico in the centre of Milan, an institution that studies the origins of texts and literature. “Driven by the notion of tracing the origins of a project, an idea, a thought, we looked to historical ideas about the human brain as a source of inspiration for our exhibition concept,” explain the duo. As a result, the installation with moving circular platforms was a conceptual interpretation of a human brain, and the space felt like being inside another person’s mind. Quite extraordinary.


Mindcraft16, Dana Tomic Hughes with GamFratesi, Milan Design Week, Photo © Nick Hughes | #MILANTRACE2016
Dana Tomic Hughes/ Yellowtrace with Stine Gam & Enrico Fratesi at MIDCRAFT16. Photography © Nick Hughes/ Yellowtrace.

Mindcraft16, Dana Tomic Hughes with GamFratesi, Milan Design Week, Photo © Nick Hughes | #MILANTRACE2016

Mindcraft16 curated by GamFratesi, Milan Design Week, Photo © Nick Hughes | #MILANTRACE2016Mindcraft16 curated by GamFratesi, Milan Design Week, Photo © Nick Hughes | #MILANTRACE2016

Observing GamFratesi’s MIDCRAFT16 installation from above. Photography © Nick Hughes/ Yellowtrace.


I’ve said if before and I’ll probably say it again many times over – GamFratesi are true designers with depth, warmth and profound understanding of human emotion, space and form. They are incredibly committed to everything they do, pouring their hearts and technical knowledge into every single project, so it’s no surprise this was another beautiful installation and a wonderful experience.

During our chat, I realised that with MINDCRAFT16, Enrico & Stine’s concerns range from the big picture – the concept, the venue, the talent – through to the most minute detail, including how the work presents for each individual designer on the day, while giving cohesion to the entire show. Their aim is to showcase each person in the best possible light, and promote the work of the entire collective and the country. This task alone makes them the custodians of Danish design on an international scale, at least during Milan Design Week – a huge honour, and a job they so rightfully deserve.

Anyway, that’s enough from me! It’s time to hear from Stine and Enrico in our second instalment of MILANTRACE Moment. I do have to warn you – our super rogue approach and filming with no microphones (I know, so dumb!) in the middle of the installation with loud noises, does mean the sound quality is quite compromised. Soooo freaking frustrating! BUT. If you do stick it out in certain moments, I promise it will be worth your while to gain a little insight and get the feel for the one and only GamFratesi, and why it is that I love them so!


Related Posts:
MINDCRAFT15 Exhibition Concept and Curation by GamFratesi.
At Home with GamFratesi in Copenhagen.
Interview with Stine Gam & Enrico Fratesi of GamFratesi.



MILANTRACE2016: Benandsebastian at Mindcraft16, Milan Design Week | YellowtraceMILANTRACE2016: Maria Bruun & Anne Dorthe Vester at Mindcraft16, Milan Design Week | Yellowtrace

Left: The Office by benandsebastian. A bureau designed specifically for the Museum of Nothing, which is an ongoing work by benandsebastian. The bureau is constructed as a place of work and also as an incomplete system of thinking. Like other parts of the Museum of Nothing, its potential lies in what is projected into it: the promise of ideas that might fill its empty frames and vacant spaces. A source of inspiration for the piece is the following paragraph by the Danish existential philosopher Søren Kierkegaard: A thinker erects an immense building, a system, a system which embraces the whole of existence and world history etc. – and if we contemplate his personal life, we discover to our astonishment this terrible and ludicrous fact, that he himself personally does not live in this immense high-vaulted palace, but in a barn alongside it, or in a dog kennel, or at the most a porter’s lodge. If one were to take the liberty of calling his attention to this by a single word, he would be offended. For he has no fear of being under a delusion, if only he can get the system completed – by means of the delusion. Materials: Teak, brass, leather, rubber, felt, ceramic.

Right: Heavy Stack (Extrude) by Maria Bruun & Anne Dorthe Vester. An experimental series of objects that explore the potentials of form, materials and aesthetics. The objects are made of hollow extruded ceramic rings stacked on top of each other, almost like bricks, around a load-bearing oak construction. The main structural inspiration came from architectural principles and structures, while the materials and the finish point more to furniture making and crafts. The function is not the goal here – instead the project served as a source of inspiration for form, construction and materials. The production process combines elements from industrial production and crafts: The ceramic rings were made on a brickworks extrusion machine fitted with a special nozzle, while the resulting tubes were shaped into circular or oval rings by hand. The series is part of the duo’s ongoing exploration of the potentials of ceramic elements as a structural component in furniture, combined in this case with a new-found fascination with the process and potentials of extrusion. Materials: stoneware, oak, brass.

Photography MINDCRAFT / Tuala Hjarnø.

MILANTRACE2016: Christina Schou Christensen at Mindcraft16, Milan Design Week | YellowtraceMILANTRACE2016: Rosa Tolnov Clausen at Mindcraft16, Milan Design Week | Yellowtrace

Left: Tension by Christina Schou Christensen. The dishes in the ’Tension’ series explore the surface tension of glaze as its interacts with the properties of the stoneware clay, the shape of the dish, the intense heat in the kiln and, not least, gravity. The precise outcome of the process thus depends on a variety of factors, including the amount and viscosity of the glaze itself. Variations in these factors determine whether the glaze will slide off the ceramic surface, creating new forms without the maker’s touch, or whether it binds to the clay, forming thick ripples and waves, as it is pulled this way and that. These experiments with the surface tension of glaze follow as a natural next step after Christina Schou Christensen’s earlier projects where she experimented with the viscosity of glaze. She carefully shapes and determines factors that she expects will lead to a given expression, but in true experimental fashion, the actual expression is determined out of reach, behind locked doors in the hot inferno of the kiln. As a framework for the surprising and radical shapes that sometimes emerge, she uses the familiar form of the dish, which we recognise from traditional ceramics.

Right: Deal with it by Rosa Tolnov Clausen. A tangible visualisation of Rosa Tolnov Clausen’s overall method and design vision. The key focus in this process is the intersection between the carefully planned and the unpredicted, the results that emerge when systematic and analytical approaches are subjected to random factors and events. For this project, Rosa Tolnov Clausen defined five design parameters – basic weave, decoration, base colour(s), decoration colour(s) and composition – which she then combined with yarn in fifteen preselected colours in a randomised process. The random selection process compelled her to use combinations of colours, patterns and techniques she might not otherwise have picked. By disrupting and tripping up her systematic working process, this element of chance brought out new and unexpected results by forcing Rosa Tolnov Clausen to deal with it and explore new solutions and expressions. As a further challenge to her creative process, she used a basic hand-loom, which only allows for a fairly limited set of variations, thus further highlighting the expressive role of basic elements such as colours and yarn quality.

Photography MINDCRAFT / Tuala Hjarnø.

MILANTRACE2016: Ole Jensen at Mindcraft16, Milan Design Week | YellowtraceMILANTRACE2016: Nicholas Nybro at Mindcraft16, Milan Design Week | Yellowtrace

Left: Primal Pottery Project by Ole Jensen. In Ole Jensen’s creative interpretation, the theme of this year’s exhibition – In My Mind Craft – simultaneously engages mind and intellect, body, material and object. In his hands, the theme has found an expression in shared human symbols, signs and references with inspiration from early pottery. The resulting objects are made in red clay, and on his potter’s wheel, new and surprising expressions have been allowed to take form in the moment. In original cultures, utilitarian objects are often perceived and depicted as a body or a head, complete with ears, feet or legs. As animated beings. In this series, Ole Jensen has returned to these early roots of ceramics, rediscovering and giving life to a set of primal forms that almost seem to draw breath – ready to reach out and find their place in our surroundings. Materials: red clay and glaze.

Right: Denmark on my Mind by Nicholas Nybro. A celebration of light as the defiant contrast to a dark background. In response to a feeling that fear and alienation is affecting the political climate and changing the Denmark he knows, Nicholas Nybro chooses to embrace his Danish identity and celebrate the qualities he is proud of. In the two pieces that make up Denmark on my Mind, this is represented by a symbolic celebration of idyllic summer evenings in Denmark where the light gradually shimmers and fades but never quite gives way to darkness. The two pieces transform the body’s silhouette, as dress and body fuse into one and are transformed into a sculpture. The main material is raffia, which is sewn onto the fabric in dense rows and subsequently cut into shape, like a hairdresser working on a hairdo. The raffia is combined with striped cotton fabric, reminiscent of traditional peasant shirts. In combination with the sculpted raffia, the overall effect sparks associations to fragrant hay, harvest time and idyllic summer. Materials: raffia, cotton.

Photography MINDCRAFT / Tuala Hjarnø.

MILANTRACE2016: Vibeke Fonnesberg Schmidt at Mindcraft16, Milan Design Week | YellowtraceMILANTRACE2016: Akiko Kuwahata at Mindcraft16, Milan Design Week | Yellowtrace

Left: Stafa by Vibeke Fonnesberg Schmidt. Geological formations in the form of hexagonal basalt rocks on the west coast of Scotland provided part of the inspiration for the shape and colour scheme of these one-off floor lamps. Apart from the geological inspiration, their expression was also influenced by modernism and, as Vibeke Fonnesberg Schmidt explains, even the feel of the original Star Wars films. Each of the six components that make up the lamps consists of two sheets of partially overlapping laser-cut Plexiglas in different colours and translucencies, either opalised or fully transparent. The hexagonal structures are held together with brass fittings and combined in clusters of three or more.Material: Plexiglas in various degrees of translucence, brass.

Right: Breathe by Akiko Kuwahata. A chest of drawers with a glass panel decorated with a frosted pattern of slanting stripes. A similar pattern has been cut into the sides of the wooden drawers but angled in the opposite direction. When a drawer is pulled out, this decorative device creates a fascinating visual dance, as the stripes move towards and past each other, flickering in and out of contact. This interactive dance is created not just by the pattern in the wood and glass but also by outside factors including the light in the room and, not least, the person pulling the drawer. Akiko Kuwahata’s inspiration for this device came from her reflections on the creative process itself. This process relies on a multitude of sources, including the maker’s own ideas and experiences as well as influences from the outside world: other people, natural phenomena, art, books etc. All these experiences are combined and transformed in the creative process, just as the expression of Breathe is transformed when it is set in motion by a human hand. Kuwahata created Breathe in close cooperation with the Danish cabinetmaker Ken Winther, who works at PP Møbler. Materials: maple, glass.

Photography MINDCRAFT / Tuala Hjarnø.

MILANTRACE2016: Henrik Vibskov at Mindcraft16, Milan Design Week | YellowtraceMILANTRACE2016: Henrik Vibskov at Mindcraft16, Milan Design Week | Yellowtrace

Left: The Jaw Nuts by Henrik Vibskov. The piece explores the landscape of our mental universe – a state of mind that is bordering on insanity, depicting external pressures in the form of a noisy crowd of constantly blabbering wooden heads. Their broken language simulates the extreme and overwhelming information flow we are all exposed to today: an unstoppable stream of information and misinformation that threatens to drive us nuts. In form, the heads are a postmodern and Asian-inspired take on the traditional nutcracker. In an eerie mix of imagery, the bright colours spark associations to puppet show marionettes, while the sticks might point to the mediaeval custom of displaying the severed heads of slain enemies, mounted on stakes. Materials: wood, string.

Right: SUB3 by Henrik Vibskov. SUB3 explores the idea of a physical encapsulation of the human mind. It is designed as a transparent organic shell that both embraces and reshapes its guest – maybe even redirecting the mind and taking it to new places. SUB3 is a host, a physical and mental space that seeks to induce a new and pleasant mental state in its occupant and the beholder. The project was inspired by early scientific ideas about the nature and workings of the human mind. In the theory and practice of phrenology, the shape and proportions of the skull were seen as a map of our inner mental life, and cranial measurements, known as craniometry, were seen as a way of gaining insight into the human mind from the outside. Materials: Plexiglas, natural rubber.

Photography MINDCRAFT / Tuala Hjarnø.


Since 2008, the MINDCRAFT exhibitions have presented a varying selection of the best new design and craft at the annual design week in Milan. This year’s participants selected by GamFratesi included Benandsebastian, Anne Dorthe Vester and Maria Bruun, Christina Schou Christensen, Rosa Tolnov Clausen, Freya Dalsjø, Dark Matters, Yuki Ferdinandsen, Halstrøm-Odgaard, Ole Jensen, Irv Johnson Music, Marianne Krumbach, Akiko Kuwahata, Cecilie Manz, Nicholas Nybro, Vibeke Fonnesberg Schmidt, Øivind Alexander Slaatto and Henrik Vibskov.

The MINDCRAFT exhibitions are funded by the Danish Arts Foundation’s Committee for Crafts and Design Project Funding and are organised by the Danish Agency for Culture and Palaces. Several participants in previous MINDCRAFT exhibitions have been spotted and had their MINDCRAFT work put into production by leading manufacturers, among them Italian brands like Nemo and Cassina, as well as Danish manufacturers, including Fredericia Furniture, Muuto, Menu, Skagerak and Gubi. Other designers have sold works to private collectors or established new partnerships with high-profile galleries in New York, London and Paris.



[Installation photography © Nick Hughes/ Yellowtrace. Product photography © Tuala Hjarnø, courtesy of MINDCRAFT. Video © Yellowtrace.]


About The Author

Dana Tomić Hughes
Founder & Editor

Dana is an award-winning interior designer living in Sydney, Australia. With an unhealthy passion for design, Dana commits to an abnormal amount of daily design research. Regular travel and attendance at premier design events, enables Dana to stay at the forefront of the design world globally. While she is super serious about design, Dana never takes herself - nor design - too seriously. Together with her life and business partner, Dana is Boss Lady at Studio Yellowtrace, specialising in Design Strategy, Creative Direction and Special Projects. The studio takes a highly conceptual and holistic approach to translating brands & ideas into places & experiences.

Leave a Reply