Eighteen designers create walking sticks for their future selves

Cecilie Manz and Jasper Morrison are among a group of designers who have added “a little glamour” to the humble cane as part of an exhibition at the Triennale Milano for Milan design week.

Curated by Japanese designer Keiji Takeuchi, the show features 18 different takes on the walking stick, including a version for off-roading and another that functions as a vase.

Cane by Marialaura Irvine Cane by Marialaura Irvine
Walking sticks & canes features works by 18 designers including Marialaura Irvine

“People with walking sticks are often viewed with pity,” Sebastian Lopez of Keiji Takeuchi Design Office told Dezeen. “Keiji wanted to remove that, add a little glamour to it, a little pep to their step.”

Each of the 18 designers created one cane with their future selves in mind.

Cane by Maddalena Casadei from Triennale Milano exhibition for Milan design week 2024Cane by Maddalena Casadei from Triennale Milano exhibition for Milan design week 2024
Maddalena Casadei’s cane can be fixed to a table

Some focused on making little tweaks to improve functionality, with engineer Alberto Meda producing a super-light version from carbon fibre, while Parisian designer Alban Le Henry added a screw mechanism for height adjustments.

Designers Anker Bak and Maddalena Casadei both integrated metal brackets, so their canes can be secured to a table while not in use.

Cane by Julien RenaultCane by Julien Renault
Julien Renault’s version has a hook for carrying shopping bags

A steam-bent version produced by Italian designer Marialaura Irvine in collaboration with furnituremaker Thonet features a knot that can hold a newspaper, and the walking stick by French designer Julien Renault features a handle that curves to form a hook for carrying a shopping bag.

Others focused on maintaining their enjoyment of the outdoors, including Copenhagen-based Hugo Passos who integrated a wicker basket into his cane for collecting fruits and vegetables in the garden.

Triennale Milano exhibition for Milan design week 2024Triennale Milano exhibition for Milan design week 2024
Also featured are designs by Hugo Passos, Pierre Charpin, Jasper Morrison and Julie Richoz (from left)

Similarly, Swiss designer Julie Richoz contributed a hollow stainless-steel rod that can double as an impromptu vase. 

“She thought about going out for a walk or a hike and seeing a beautiful flower and not being able to take it back home,” Lopez said. “But with this one, she can.”

Similarly, Michel Charlot’s Off-road cane has an extra-wide base for manoeuvring on uneven terrain.

“If you drop it, you can step on the base and the cane will right itself,” Lopez explained. “I thought that was fantastic.”

Walking stick by Hugo Passos from Walking sticks & Canes exhibition at Triennale Milano for Milan design week 2024Walking stick by Hugo Passos from Walking sticks & Canes exhibition at Triennale Milano for Milan design week 2024
Passos’s walking stick comes with an integrated wicker basket

Elsewhere, the focus was on exploring new and unexpected materials, with Morrison making his model using zero glue, several wine corks and a length of bamboo from his own garden.

Finnish designer Ville Kokkonen experimented with micro-fibrillated cellulose (MFC) to create a lightweight hollow cane that can be sawn to the desired length using basic woodworking tools.

“This biomaterial is super promising because it’s as hard as plastic but it’s completely natural,” Lopez said.

Cane by Michel CharlotCane by Michel Charlot
Michel Charlot’s Off-road cane can be righted by stepping on its base

Yet others focused on aesthetics first and foremost, with Manz creating a model from anodised aluminium to suit her minimalist style, while French artist Henri Frachon pierced his maple-wood version with ten different holes that cast different shadows as the user moves.

Also featured in the exhibition are designers Jun Yasumoto, Pierre Charpin, Wataru Kumano and Chris Lijenberg Halstrøm.

Alban Le Henry cane on a green backdropAlban Le Henry cane on a green backdrop
A screw mechanism allows for height adjustments in Alban Le Henry’s contribution

The show was on display at the Triennale Milano for Milan design week alongside a retrospective of work by Italian designer Alessandro Mendini, an installation from Philippe Starck and a full-scale home interior by Inga Sempé as previewed on the Dezeen live blog.

The photography is by Miro Zagnoli.

Milan design week took place from 15 to 21 April 2024. See Dezeen Events Guide for an up-to-date list of architecture and design events taking place around the world.

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