In Milan, the Salone del Mobile has just wrapped up its 60th furniture exhibition, the first full-fledged version of the show since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. Although delayed two months from its usual April schedule, as visitors strutted through the pavilion’s long hallways to admire the latest collections of furniture and home brands from around the world, there was palpable excitement. in the air. The exhibitors, too, brought their best. Returning were the awe-inspiring installations that marked pre-pandemic editions – a living olive grove set the scene at Flexform while Baxter cultivated a luscious garden – collaborations with world-class architects and designers and innovations abound. As our understanding of what it means to live comfortably has changed dramatically over the past couple of years, so has the world of furniture. These trends from the fair and its related events are here to stay.
The outside is the new inside
As COVID-19 shutdowns have people everywhere giving thanks for their outdoor home spaces, so has the furniture industry. Outdoor collections were plentiful at the show this year, with many dividing the difference in design and materials between suitability for the living room or the patio. At Flexform’s presentation, wooden-framed lounge chairs and sofas with built-in side tables were upholstered in plush fabrics, inside and out, making the transition from poolside to edge easier than ever. Meanwhile, Italian peer Baxter explored the versatility of lacquer, on bases for side chairs, stools and dining tables whose cushions are upholstered in treated leather for the elements.
Bright colors make a statement
This year, Poltrona Frau explored its boldest collaboration yet with artist Felipe Pantone: a handful of technicolor swatches resembling paint chips cover the 110-year-old design brand’s iconic Archibald armchair. Although the limited-edition rainbow-hued seat sold out ahead of its FuoriSalone presentation, artist Greta Rosset helped visualize the brand’s True Evolution 2022 theme with an equally colorful light installation. At Roche Bobois’ Salone del Mobile stand, the Missoni Home fabric collection covered Hans Hopfer’s iconic Mah Jong armchairs in a variety of bold stripes, a fun way to add pizzazz to an interior. Bold greens popped up on seating at Zanotta and Arflex, where the latter also experimented with yellow stripes, ties and solids for plush outdoor chairs and sofas with pillow-like cushions. At Acerbis, the 1994 wooden cabinet by the late Nanda Vigo caught the eye with its pink lacquer front, like a series of oversized drawer pulls.
The ultimate Victorian party pouf makes a comeback
Once only found in historic French palaces and similar French museums, the Victorian bollard has been reinvented at Salone this year. Swiss de Sede, of the famous Ubald Klug 1972 Terrazza sofa, has released a square version of the classic round piece, updated to reflect the segments of his DS-600 sectional sofa. Covered in a marbled print, the piece was ready for the party. At the entrance to the Arflex stand, a vision padded in white bouclé welcomed visitors, proof that the design world’s obsession with knotty fabric is here to stay a little longer.
Tell your mother, the 1970s are back
Naturally, a 50th anniversary is linked to a fair where so many exhibitors are centenarians. This year, the 70s were in the spotlight at Zanotta, where a section of the stand was dedicated to reissues and new sizes of Florentine design studio Superstudio’s iconic white grid tables from 1972 and thumbnails of the new collections were placed against light boxes displaying the kind of nocturnal horizons one might find Architectural Summary covers from the same period. In new collections from brands such as Minotti, Living Divani and Casamilano, the spirit of the 70s can be seen in the trend for large lounge-style sofas, often upholstered – think of Mario Bellini’s 1972 Camaleonda (also presented on the stand of B&B Italia) with an angular shape. accent and, in some cases, the possibility of conversing in the living room or the garden.
Plus, the collabs we loved
Daniel Arsham x Kohler Co.
In the palace that houses the archives of the Milanese Senate, artist Daniel Arsham has designed a new large-scale installation to reveal his collaboration with Kohler. The site-specific ‘Divided Layers’ installation created a tunneled walkway of a series of arched panels, all seemingly floating above a shimmering pond. Each panel represented a layer in Arsham’s new work for Kohler, the Rock.01, a 3D printed sink originally revealed at Design Miami/ in Miami Beach last December. The limited edition piece features an organic, pearly sink with an edge resting on a brass “rock” shape.
The technology used to 3D print the ceramic sink is entirely new and invented by Kohler, Arsham reveals. The brand specifically calls on him as the first artist authorized to explore it with a dedicated printer and a patented clay recipe. It’s also much more sustainable as the precision of printing means no wasted clay is introduced, a big part of Kohler’s Believing in Better platform, which sets goals for the environmental footprint of the company, including becoming Net Zero by 2035. For now, the Rock.01 is a custom order, but a Kohler representative revealed that the brand is working hard to perfect the technology for large-scale production at the future.
Kengo Kuma x Gandiablasco
The Japanese minimalist architect not only designed the Gandiablasco stand itself at Salone del Mobile, where long rolls of tatami mats created elegant and delicate separations between the products on display, but he also dabbled in the brand’s rugs . The textured series of flooring is woven with thin wooden slats or dowels – materials familiar enough to those who have spent time in the model shop of any architectural studio – which provide strength to traction and an intriguing look. Two editions were on display, both exploring shades of black and gray.
Paola Lenti x Campana Brothers
In her newly transformed showroom in Meda, just north of Milan, Paola Lenti explored her new collections through the Japanese concept of mottainai, the Buddhist idea that waste is created when things are not valued. The design brand then tapped Brazilian design duo Fernando and Humberto Campana to create a special series of seats and rugs with sustainability, materials and systems in mind. From scraps from Paola Lenti’s factory, upholstery fabrics were created and sewn onto synthetic felt made from plastic bottles; the upholstery was also made of the same material. The result is a colorful, goofy, and pleasing design that does as good for the industry as it looks. In the true form of the Campana brothers, it stands on the border between art and furniture.
Alessi x Virgil Abloh
In celebration of its centenary, Italian design brand Alessi presented an exhibition, dinner and big party at Teatro Manzoni to launch the Alessi 001 Occasional Object, a cutting-edge limited-edition silverware set. technology designed almost a year ago by the late Virgil Abloh and his London studio Alaska Alaska. The geometric cutlery feels part protractor, part Swiss army knife in all the best ways, and marks the start of an ongoing collaboration between Alessi and the studio for a series of so-called “occasional” works. Surrounded by a graphic display by Studio Temp, the installation also featured 12 Alessi-branded mantras, visualized through interactive installations that included a craftsman constructing Moka espresso pots and a gold toilet paper display.
Swarovski x Rosenthal
Perhaps one of the most sophisticated affairs of the week, Swarovski hosted a garden party with porcelain brand Rosenthal in the backyard of Casa degli Atellani, the Milanese home of the Italian architect’s descendants. Piero Portaluppi. Monochrome displays of whimsical tent tables with blue, pink, yellow and green crockery, crystal nail petit fours, cake stands, tea sets and other tabletop objects of desire were the main attraction , but a string quartet, stands of gelato, cotton candy, and plenty of champagne sweetened the deal.
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