Milan’s Salone del Mobile is always one of the most awaited events in the design calendar and this year’s edition was particularly exciting after a hiatus of two years.
Held onsite last month, the trade show, together with ongoing exhibitions at galleries held all over the city, gave a new shot of adrenaline to the furniture, lighting and home furnishing industries with many new ideas for the home.
Nostalgia was still in the air, with ’80s influences and the return of Memphis, as well as the revival and reinterpretation of ’60s and ’70s classics, but many novel innovations were done using favorite materials like aluminum, bamboo and stone.
Sustainability, of course, reigned supreme with an emphasis on quality materials and craftsmanship, ethical practices and recycling.
’80s and Memphis
Shades of purple, from lilac to periwinkle and mauve — favorite colors of the 1980s — showed up in furniture and furnishings at Poltrona Frau and Baxter and in 3D sculptures by Audrey Large.
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Bethan Laura Wood made Memphis desirable again with her new proportions and patterns from her Meissen kimonos. She also attempted “to reclaim decorative design, rather than have it dismissed as something overly feminine or unnecessary.”
George Sowden, a cofounder of the Memphis group, introduced a new lighting line in vibrant colors and shapes.
Low and versatile
Sectionals like the Sengu by Patricia Urquiola for Cassina, which stay close to the ground, was the preferred seating for its lounge-y vibe and versatility that is paramount during quarantine times when the home becomes the center of multiple activities.
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La Cividina’s Node+ is WFH-flexible with a hybrid desk and sofa.
Prized in the East for its strength, lightness and flexibility, bamboo made a strong showing in Milan where a multimedia installation by Japanese architect Kengo Kuma made it the star of “Bamboo Ring,” an outdoor coil sculpture that transmitted orchestral music.
Michael Anastassiades created a forest of bamboo floor lamps at ICA Milano. At Fornasetti, it appeared in hand-painted trompe l’oeil furniture and at Nilufar Depot it was done in bronze by Osanna Visconti for chairs and screens.
Aluminum goes maximum
Aluminum is having a moment in design, with Yann Le Coadic using it for almost every imaginable piece of furniture and furnishing for the Ehero collection at Pouenat.
Onesoi Choi exploited the cross section of aluminum components to decorative effect for his Industry Stools, while at the apartment of Nicolas Bellavance-Lecompte, Bocci flouted the material’s stereotypes with pendant lamps showcasing its expressive possibilities.
Many designers chose to have their pieces in stone for its lasting quality that has been appreciated for centuries in Italy, where marble is an obsession and a way of life. Antolini showcases it in some of the amazing patterns for bathtubs as well as backlit walls for bedrooms.
Patricia Urquiola’s tables evoke the Japanese ritual of construction and reconstruction of shrines while Ini Archibong’s tables for Se Collections look precious with jewel-like embellishments.
A new life for classics
With the familiarity of old pieces giving a certain reassurance, many classics have been reissued this season but with a nod to sustainability concerns, like Gaetano Pesce’s 1969 UP5_6 chair done in cork recycled from wine bottles.
Cassina also did an eco-friendly take on the 1969 Soriana sofa designed by Afra and Tobia Scarpa.
Blow it up
The liberation of the ’60s and ’70s is a favorite design inspiration during the pandemic, making transparent inflatable PVC chairs and sculptures popular again.
Objects of Common Interest exhibited their fun, inflatable lounge chairs and floor lamps at Alcova, while Gufram, known for neotenic foam furniture, installed a giant, inflatable model of the Pratone, their grass-shaped lounge.