The world’s biggest furniture design festival basked in the Italian sunshine in Milan, where the key trade event, the Salone Internazionale del Mobile, also opened to the public.
Kartell, king of plastics, made the first transparent chair in 1999 and turned French designer Philippe Starck into a superstar. Now, the Italian company’s super-streamlined Organic Chair by Antonio Citterio uses a revolutionary new plastic made from plants.
The fair’s pioneering Salone Satellite hall celebrated 20 years of new design, where award winners this year were from Taiwan, China and Russia.
Milan is a melting pot of new trends. “Now’s the time not just of mega brands, but makers, start-ups, self-productions, limited editions, e-commerce, 3D printing, re-use, web design, emerging countries, and fresh collaborations between new talent and big companies,” said journalist Gisella Borioli.
And the evidence was there — from Stefano Giovannoni’s new design-centred webshop Qeeboo to the plethora of designer-makers.
Exuberant pattern elbowed minimalism aside and drowned bland Scandi-mod. Italian furniture maker Driade covered cupboard fronts and small tables with flowers.
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Londoner Kit Miles covered carpet with digital-print florals and geometrics for Dutch brand Moooi. UK fashion’s style subversives Eley Kishimoto decked out a flat with OTT textiles and papers from Kirkby Design and used technology to glam up holograms, plus flocking and glitter, souping up their signature sharp motifs and deconstructed florals.
Spanish maverick Jaime Hayón filled a palazzo with stone, stained glass and comic characters he called “Stone Age folk” crafted from Caesarstone, a quartz-and-resin composite that comes in more than 70 colours for custom-made worktops and furniture. There’s a new UK office, in Enfield.
Shoreditch’s Lee Broom dropped an exquisite turning carousel, filled with white lighting and furniture “sculptures”, into a railway arch under Milano Centrale station, while in a shopping arcade, Tom Dixon showed stunning lights and new colours for his Pylon chair, being made in south London.
Ikea trumped them all with a fun and friendly festival for 2,000 people in a huge warehouse, with fantasy booths, art workshops, street food, films, podium talks and yoga. The Swedish superstore showcased affordable, portable furniture for renters, “smart” lighting with hand-held dimmer controls, and LED doors and light panels.
As it’s fashionable for top brands to mix and match, we saw the Ferrari chair at Poltrona Frau, plus Versace’s handbag club-chair, and Louis Vuitton’s leather lighting.