Too Good to Waste by EMBT and Benchmark

Benedetta Tagliabue wraps playful wooden furniture around pillars of 15th-century Milanese auditorium

Benches and mirrors can be pushed, pulled and swivelled from these striped wooden cabinets that Italian architect Benedetta Tagliabue has installed across a palazzo facade for this year's Milan design week.

Too Good to Waste by EMBT and Benchmark

The EMBT co-founder worked with UK furniture brand Benchmark to create the four cabinets, which wrap the pillars at the entrance to the Aula Magna auditorium, located in the Cortile d'Onore courtyard at the Università degli Studi di Milano.

Too Good to Waste by EMBT and Benchmark

Called Too Good to Waste, the installation is intended to promote a more sustainable use of wood.

It is made with strips of less popular American hardwoods, including maple, cherry and tulipwood, rather than fashionable colours and species. The wood also features defects like knots and sapwood.

Too Good to Waste by EMBT and Benchmark

"We are using species that are not getting the value they should and we are using them to show that they are beautiful, versatile and useful woods for craftsmen," said Benchmark co-founder Sean Sutcliffe.

"The second thing we are addressing is the grading issue," he continued. "We, as picky cabinet-makers, have always been very fussy about using the best bits, and that needs to change if we are to move to a more sustainable way of living."

Too Good to Waste by EMBT and Benchmark

The furniture responds to the decorative details of the 15th-century building, which includes figurative reliefs on the walls. The pieces are designed in a variety of heights and with elaborate shapes, as well as interactive elements that encourage visitors to play.

Too Good to Waste by EMBT and Benchmark

"We wanted to re-create this concept in a playful and modern way by creating a wall full of surprises, where the people who inhabit the wall will be real," said Tagliabue.

Too Good to Waste by EMBT and Benchmark

"We hope that visitors, surprised by this installation, will want to interact with it, and that they will discover and use the pieces of furniture it hides: seats, tables, mirrors," she continued. "We hope that their curiosity will make this piece very animated."

Too Good to Waste by EMBT and Benchmark

The first cabinet is split into three tubular parts with handles indented into the exterior of one section to help swivel the structure around to reveal a mirror.

Too Good to Waste by EMBT and Benchmark

A small dressing area pulls out of the middle part, while a door on the other segment opens to another smaller mirror.

A seat and table fold down from diamond-shaped openings in the second cabinet, while two curved benches pull out of the third cupboard, which also features a more private cubby hole.

Too Good to Waste by EMBT and Benchmark

For the last one, two curved blocks are stacked below a table, creating steps to sit down. Next to this, doors open to a small alcove, where irregularly shaped windows offer views to the courtyard.

Too Good to Waste by EMBT and Benchmark

TheThe American Hardwood Export Council commissioned Too Good to Waste as part of Material Immaterial, and exhibition curated by Italian magazine Interni. It forms part of this year's Milan design week, taking place from 4 to 9 April 2017.

Too Good to Waste by EMBT and Benchmark

Other installations at the event include the Studio Swine's bubble-emitting structure for COS and an exhibition by Atelier Biagetti about money and power.

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Too Good to Waste by EMBT and Benchmark
Too Good to Waste by EMBT and Benchmark
Too Good to Waste by EMBT and Benchmark
Too Good to Waste by EMBT and Benchmark
Too Good to Waste by EMBT and Benchmark
Too Good to Waste by EMBT and Benchmark