In the new Ventura Lambrate neighborhood of Milan, Niels van Eijk and Miriam van der Lubbe mounted a retrospective of their work from 1998 to 2010, the bulk of which was represented by a pictorial timeline of process shots, sketches, and models.

Process at the Milan Furniture Fair

Tom Dixon, Bram Boo, e15, and Thomas Eyck all showed products in copper at the 2010 Milan Furniture Fair, which closes today. There was also a minor strain of fur-covered chairs — plus one hairy, Cousin It–style storage unit by the Campana Brothers for Edra — and a tendency toward LED and OLED lighting. But as far as Sight Unseen is concerned, the only trend worth writing home about was the diaristic glimpse into process that so many designers chose to offer this year, supplementing their finished products with sketches, models, and real-time demonstrations. Droog, Tom Dixon, and the Belgian gallery Z33 turned manufacturing into a spectator sport, churning out saleable objects on the spot, while the young Berlin duo Studio Hausen decided to forgo actual products entirely, outfitting their Satellite booth with a vitrine full of experimental bits and bobs from recent research projects. Certainly in some cases the conceit helped mask a lack of new production pieces, an economic consequence that plagued the fair in general, but mostly it celebrated curiosity, storytelling, and a growing interest in where things come from and how they’re made — Sight Unseen’s raison d’etre, of course. Here are just a handful of the examples we spotted over the past seven days.