Dezeen Magazine

"Less is more is back" says panel during Gaggenau talk at Milan design week

Dezeen teamed up with kitchen appliances brand Gaggenau to host and film a talk about reduction in design with representatives from Zaha Hadid Architects, SOM and Industrial Facility during Milan design week 2024.

Moderated by Dezeen's editorial director Max Fraser, the talk explored how principles of reduction and essentialism in architecture and design can be employed to improve our lives.

Titled Design by Reduction, the panel gathered contributors from different industries, with Zaha Hadid Architects associate director Johannes Schafelner representing architecture, Industrial Facility founder Kim Colin discussing industrial and product design, and SOM interiors lead Francesca Portesine representing interior design.

Gaggenau talk on reduction at Milan design week
Dezeen teamed up with Gaggenau to host a talk about reduction in design during Milan design week 2024

Amongst the topics discussed by the panel was how the process and aesthetics of reduction in design can improve well-being through fostering simplicity in people's day-to-day lives.

Explaining the role of reduction in interior design, Portesine stated: "Generally, it is a very good thing that there is less rather than more to look at, to feel, to concentrate, to give importance to one element at a time."

"The balance of a space is created by simplicity, by reduction of materials," she continued.

These comments were mirrored by Colin, who suggested that the role of the designer is to counter the complexity of the world by making a complicated world simple.

"I don't think we need to build in complexity – complexity is there in everything," she said. "We really try hard to simplify things and make things easier. We deserve for things to be made more easily and more easily accessible."

She went on to describe how, in the field of industrial design, reduction can be used as a means to create products that fit holistically into the lives of users.

"Often we try to quiet the noise. You can imagine a room full of products that are in the marketplace, shouting for your attention for you to buy them," she explained.

"They want you to buy them," she continued. "But then what happens when you live with them? You're living with a bunch of things that are shouting at you."

Gaggenau talk on reduction at Milan design week
The talk coincided with the launch of Gaggenau's new Essential Induction cooktop

Schafelner described how reduction in architecture allows architects to design and build more efficiently, mitigating both the cost and environmental impact of buildings.

"When we talk about reduction, it's all about efficiency," he said. "It's really minimising the design, minimising the structure to have a better product."

He went on to describe how artificial intelligence (AI) can assist the architect in working more efficiently.

"AI will also help us," he stated. "There are now new tools which automatically give you realistic images in one second."

"It's a much more intuitive workflow. And in the future, this will definitely help us to be more efficient."

Gaggenau talk on reduction at Milan design week
Gaggenau exhibited new products in an installation at Milan's historic Villa Necchi Campiglio

Addressing the question of how principles of reduction can help to build a more sustainable future, Colin posited the return of the principle of "less is more."

"Using less material, less time, less effort, less shipping – less is more is back," she claimed.

"It should be easy to make as well as easy to live with. They should go hand in hand."

The talk took place in the conservatory of Milan's historic Villa Necchi Campiglio, where the brand created an immersive installation called Elevation of Gravity to showcase its appliances.

Gaggenau talk on reduction at Milan design week
The panel featured representatives from Zaha Hadid Architects, SOM and Industrial Facility

Amongst the brand's new launches was the Essential Induction cooktop, which has been designed to integrate into a kitchen worktop seamlessly.

Covertly integrated induction hobs are integrated into a conductive Dekton stone countertop, indicated by a small LED light. The only other visible element of the cooktop is a performance dial located on the side of the countertop.

The Essential Induction cooktop was designed to break down barriers between spaces used for cooking and living in the kitchen, and the principle of reduction at play in its design informed the topic of Dezeen's talk.

The photography is by Giovanni Franchellucci.

Partnership content

This video was produced by Dezeen as part of a partnership with Bentley. Find out more about Dezeen partnership content here.