Vestre and Note Design Studio create biodiverse utopia in the heart of Milan
Last year, Note Design Studio’s stand for Norwegian furniture brand Vestre became Best stand at Stockholm Furniture & Light Fair. When Milan Design Week returns this week, the two players have reused as much material as possible from the previous exhibition to create a new one — called Mixed Habitat — including 596 porotherm bricks that made up the interior walls.
6 Sep 2021

Vestre, CEO Jan Christian Vestre explains, attaches great importance to various sustainability initiatives and the brand’s striving for transparency at all levels. At the Stockholm Furniture & Light Fair 2020, they let the stand represent their commitment to the environment with a matter-of-fact display of each furniture’s carbon footprint. It won the Best stand award at the fair.

— We selected every stand material carefully for the ease of recycling and reuse, such as stand walls of hallow brick, pine plywood, and flooring of stone, Jan Christian Vestre tells, continuing,

— Consequently, the assignment given to Note Design Studio for the design of the stand for Milan Design Week was crystal clear: reuse as much material as possible from the previous exhibition in Stockholm. For us, it has been the perfect collaboration as Note Design Studio shares our vision of encouraging and enabling design as tool for positive change.

— Everything — from the 596 porotherm bricks that make up the interior walls to loose marble gravel and sheets of acrylic and plywood — is recycled from last year, creating a biodiverse Utopia in the heart of Milan, tells Lukas Petko, architect at Note Design Studio, continuing,

— We have developed an immersive ”journey” concept where visitors are met with an explosion of greenery full of trees, plants, and flowers surrounded by a bricked wall. We’re bringing the outdoors inside the installation.

His architect colleague at Note, Jesper Mellgren, explains that they wanted the experience at the Mixed Habitat exhibition to be much more immersive and experiential than a usual stand at a design fair. 

— Our aim was not to have visitors not just see the products but to experience them in their real context, he tells. An important part for us during the design process was the dramaturgy of the user experience. In order to not unveil all at once, we encourage the visitors to discover the installation and different furniture collections as they journeyed through the ”simulated natural habitat”. To achieve that, we ensured the walls and the path were curved such that there are no clear sightlines in the space, just curves and corners hinting at one might lie ahead, so there’s always a pull of curiosity leading you onwards.

For the design, the duo and their team have also taken inspiration from Vestre’s new outdoor furniture collection Habitats, which is designed with an idea that humanity and nature can coexist in balance and synergy.

— The line is our response to a necessary change and a way to make us aware of the need for more biodiversity in our neighborhoods and cities, tells Jan Christian Vestre. Biodiversity underpins ecosystem functions that are essential for human health and well-being. Growing urbanization is a threat to both human health and biodiversity, and our mission is to outline a scenario where coexistence in sustainable habitats — for all species — is possible. The concept and furniture design were developed in close collaboration with René Hougaard, the designer and architect behind the Arde design studio, and Rethink Studio’s design manager Alexander Qual. Both of them had contacted us independently at the end of 2019 — with the same basic idea: to develop outdoor furniture that increases biodiversity in urban spaces. Their initiative, ingenuity, and close cooperation led to the start of the new furniture series.

What else are you showing in Mixed Habitat?

— We present our new series PLINTH designed by Note Design Studio, consisting of benches, tables, and a combined bicycle rack and leaning bar in different lengths and heights. With immense pride, we are also showing our Munch Collection with lounge and café furniture designed by Andreas Engesvik and Jonas Stokke, developed for the new Munch Museum in Oslo, which will open next month, tells Vestre.

Vestre’s currently building their new factory The Plus in Magnor, Norway, together with Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG), which Jan Christian Vestre describes as the world’s most environmentally friendly furniture factory.

— It’ll be the Nordic region’s first industrial building to emerge with the highest environmental classification, BREEAM Outstanding, and will be a global showcase for sustainable and highly efficient furniture manufacturing, he tells. At the exhibition in Milan, we invite visitors to get an insight into our new factory before it’s finished by the end of this year with an official grand opening to be arranged next summer.