Among the brands present at Fuorisalone Digital 2021 there is the start-up Kushim Caring Design, conceived by the technical-creative team composed of architect Natasha Calandrino Van Kleef, thermo-technician Riccardo Cavozzi and designer Silvia Bignami.
The new brand for home and office safety concretely achieves a revolutionary way of living and inhabiting places in safety thanks to the use of recent innovations in the technological and scientific fields.
Natasha Calandrino Van Kleef, architect, fashion designer and expert on the Culture Commission and the Environment Commission of Milan’s Municipal District 1 Committee, who already holds several design patents together with the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the Polytechnic of Milan, tells us about the path that led to the birth of this reality.
Natasha Calandrino Van Kleef
The team and the work is the answer to a need. How was Kushim Caring Design born?
I had the great fortune of attending one of Bruno Munari’s design classes and to be a student of Tomàs Maldonado, who conveyed to me the fundamental concept of design as an activity that is inseparabile from its function and purpose. The function during this pandemic was precisely the one defined by Simon: “to change the existing situation into a better one”.
A few days after the COVID-19 outbreak in Italy, it became clear that the mode of transmission of the virus was through droplets and aerosols, and that living in confined indoor environments was therefore one of the main risk factors for contagion.
Studies into the inactivation of pathogens such as bacteria and viruses by UV light had already been known for years, and by reasoning on this, together with thermo-technician Riccardo Cavozzi and designer Silvia Bignami, we hypothesised a new and combined application for the development of our natural SARS-Cov-2 inactivation technology.
Did the research and analysis carried out for this conference influence the Kushim Caring Design project? When and how did the idea for your project come about?
In 2018, I conceived the Contagio Multidisciplinary Conference and gradually brought together leading figures in the Italian cultural, medical and scientific fields. Thanks to my long-standing friendship with Ginevra Trinchieri, an astronomer at the Brera Observatory in Milan and the INAF (Italian National Institute of Astrophysics), I became aware of the work carried out by Professor Mara Biasin and INAF astrophysicist Giorgia Sironi, who together published a very important study - available on Youtube - which measured the amount of UV rays needed to inactivate the SARS-Cov-2 virus.
Technology and science cannot do without measurements and quantities, just as design, architecture and life in general cannot avoid being constantly confronted with their quantitative aspects.
Quantity and quality are two integral facets of a single trait. Aren't aeshetics and beauty a correct proportion or studied disproportion between certain elements and therefore ultimately about various quantities of matter?
With this information in hand, we hypothesised that the inactivating function of UV, together with the photo-catalytic properties of titonium dioxide, a filter, and a precisely designed fan could sanitise indoor confined spaces. Fortunately, our idea turned out to be successful and the extraordinary result is that KUSHIM technology not only sanitises the air, but also sanitises all the surfaces of the environment in which the SanLight is placed. In the case of Sanshoe it works on the external and internal surfaces of the footwear placed inside.
The importance of technology in your design approach is undeniable, but aesthetics also plays a key role. In the video presented on Fuorisalone TV, you made a point of quoting from Paul Overy's Light, Air and Openness book, where he noted the aesthetic shift from Art Deco to Minimalism due to the tuberculosis outbreak. SanLight and SanShoe also respond to this need for embracing a more minimalist and Nordic style.
Perhaps the approach is influenced by the minimalist style that derives from the search for pure function, which is always a legacy of the Nordic tradition with which I am familiar. Anything that is ornamental and decorative risks becoming a perfect ally for pathogenic agents such as bacteria, viruses and other microbes, since they are likely to find an ideal place to embed and proliferate. In this sense, Paul Overy recounts how the need to eliminate tubercolosis germs (another airborne disease!) from interior surfaces favoured the architectural transition from Art Nouveau to Rationalism.
Unlike the previous century, when cleaning was mostly carried out using simple rags and brushes, our technologies now have the distinct advantage of using air as a disinfectant and this allows us to maintain and preserve the formal elements we love most in the rooms we use. The style of our furnishing components is influenced by their function which, in the case of SanLight through its metallic mesh, must guarantee the greatest possible diffusion of sanitising air and light. And in the case of our SanShoe it functions both as a shoe rack and as a bench seat, preferably placed at the entrance of a home or office, in order to store footwear without contaminating the floors with pathogens from the street. A solution for every required function.
Sanlight - Kushim Caring Design - Ph Franco Covi
SanShoe - Kushim Caring Design - Ph Franco Covi
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