Dezeen Magazine

Habitats installation at Milan Design Week by Note Design Studio for Vestre

Note Design Studio reuses Vestre fair stand to form indoor park installation

Vestre is showcasing a collection of urban furniture that encourages biodiversity at this year's Milan design week, set within a leafy installation constructed by Note Design Studio from one of the brand's old fair stands.

Situated in a warehouse in the Tortona district, the display reuses the same hollow bricks, stone chips and polycarbonate panels that previously formed the award-winning booth the duo created for the 2020 Stockholm Furniture & Light Fair.

Indoor park installation by Note Design Studio with brick walls and stone floor
The installation is formed from a reused Vestre fair stand (top and above)

The materials were stored in Vestre's factory in Sweden for 19 months before being shipped to Milan. Here, they are joined by a meadow and a family of small shrubs and trees transplanted from a local nursery to form a kind of miniature indoor park housing the brand's new Habitats range.

Reusing the materials and transporting them to Italy, rather than sourcing them from scratch, helped to prevent not just waste but also a considerable amount of carbon emissions, the company claims.

"Transport accounts for less than five per cent of all emissions from material sourcing," CEO Jan Christian Vestre told Dezeen.

"It would have been so much more energy and CO2 demanding to throw the materials from Stockholm away and manufacture new ones in Italy."

Brick wall in Vestre installation at Milan design week
Hollow, uncemented bricks are arranged into a meandering landscape

In total, 90 per cent of materials from the original stand were reused, save for the plywood walls and a number of functional metal components.

Note Design Studio turned the polycarbonate ceiling panels into diffusers for the warehouse's stark, industrial lights, while the stone chips were once again used for the flooring.

The uncemented bricks, which formed a linear grid of walls in the original setup, were reimagined into a meandering landscape for Vestre's Milan presence.

Red brick wall with insect hotels and artificial hill by Note Design Studio
Small trees and shrubs were transplanted into the installation from a local nursery

"We wanted to create a room inside a room, so the building materials were actually perfect for that," explained Note Design Studio's senior architect Jesper Mellgren.

"The bricks are not attached, they're just connected by metal bars, so they're really easy to disassemble."

Both the original stand and the reimagined installation are examples of reversible design, meaning they were constructed in a way so they can be easily taken apart and repurposed.

Bench with rock pile by Vestre at Milan design week
A living meadow covers the floor alongside reused stone chips

After Milan design week, the greenery will be put back into nature and the stones are set to be donated to a local landscape project. Note Design Studio hopes to build a permanent installation from the bricks.

"The whole concept was to make a stand, which you can take apart without causing harm to the materials so every single one can be reused," added the studio's co-founder Johannes Carlström.

"Now, the idea is to build something permanent, maybe a sculpture in a park or a little orangery, because these bricks are pretty good at letting through moisture."

Displayed inside the Milan installation is Vestre's Habitats collection, created in collaboration with Arde and Rethink Studio as well as a team of expert biologists.

The outdoor furniture range was designed to offer a refuge for flora and fauna in urban environments, in the hopes of preventing the rapid decline of biodiversity while bringing city dwellers closer to nature.

Among the pieces are two benches designed to enclose piles of rocks or branches, creating a range of different habitats within otherwise flat, homogenous parks.

Insect hotel next to small tree in Habitats installation by Note Design Studio
Vestre's Habitats collection includes leaf-shaped insect hotels

The Log Bench, for example, is specifically designed to fit around fallen tree trunks and other deadwood, integrating it into the landscape and allowing those seated on the bench to witness the natural process of decay while creating a home for fungi, lichens, mosses and insects.

Also included in the collection are nesting boxes for birds as well as insect hotels shaped like stylised leaves, with perforations of different sizes tailored to different species.

"We want to bridge the gap between nature and people," Vestre explained. "It's about bringing nature back to the cities, taking care of biodiversity, taking care of these species before it's too late."

Plants on red brick pedestals
The red bricks were also used as pedestals for plants

The collection is constructed from locally and responsibly sourced Scandinavian pine as well as "the greenest possible steel", courtesy of Swedish manufacturer SSAB.

"The steel has a 30 per cent lower carbon footprint than the global average," Vestre explained. "It's 20 per cent recycled content and made with renewable energy and more energy-efficient ovens."

"But it's not like it's emission-free," he added. "That's why the most important contribution we can make is actually designing things to last forever."

Exterior of Vestra habitats installation at Milan design week
The installation is housed in a Tortona warehouse as part of Milan design week

All of Vestre's products come with a lifetime warranty so they can be serviced and kept in use for as long as possible.

This forms part of the company's wider aim to achieve net-zero emissions, a goal that has also seen the company become the "first furniture manufacturer in the world" to declare the carbon footprint of all of its products.

The Vestre and Note Design Studio installation is on show in the Tortona district on 5 - 10 September as part of Milan design week 2021See Dezeen Events Guide for an up-to-date list of architecture and design events taking place around the world.