Milan’s Salone del Mobile, the international design fair that has been held annually since 1961, was back in full force after a year of hiatus due to the pandemic. The Fuorisalone was not only packed with well-known names in interior design, but also saw young creatives and smaller companies take over galleries and abandoned spaces throughout the city, displaying new ideas and creating installations.
Here are some highlights and takeaways from this event: From sustainability to boundary-pushing design and an emphasis upon craft
Bring the outdoors inside
Milan Design Week’s most impressive works were likely inspired by the amount of time spent indoors in the past two year. Calico Wallpaper, a Brooklyn-based interior design studio, collaborated with AB Concept to display a Japanese Alps-inspired wallpaper. Matter of Course, a Berlin-based all-female collective, debuted a range of home furnishings in wood and clay in the 5 Vie district.
Nature-inspired decor could be a future interiors trend. “Forest of Reflection”Uses a combination of Alps-inspired wallpaper and grass-like carpet to create a tranquil space. Credit: Jonathan Hokklo
Alcova is an itinerant show that took over Centro Ospedaliero Militare di Baggio. SolidNature, a Dutch brand of natural stone, collaborated with Sabine Marcelis and OMA to rethink furniture. They used monolithic slabs onyx and marble to create a monumental bathroom, multi-functional rotating cabinets, and an impressive (but not very comfortable) bed.
Milan’s DWA Design Studio brought in raw matter with a table made from soil and wild flowers. Industrial design students at Muthesius University used the air to create ten inflatable products including a transparent suitcase, and a seat.
The design fair also featured futuristic-looking furniture that was made from raw materials. Credit: Matteo Parodi
Maximilian Marchesani, a designer who took inspiration from nature, created lighting that featured suspended branches with LED blossoms and furry lights sticks. The display was wrapped in silk, which is a natural electricity conductor.
Recycled or repurposed and reinvented
During design week, sustainability was a major topic.
At Alcova, Italian acoustic company Slalom used recycled plastic bottles to build a muffled, brightly colored room that could serve as a silent space; and California-based Prowl Studio unveiled a lounge furniture collection that incorporated environmentally-friendly materials and computer-generated upholstery. Salone Satellite, an exhibition space for emerging designers younger than 35 years old, featured 600 exhibitors whose work revolved around the theme. “Designing for our future selves”With a focus upon sustainable practices.
Maximilian Marchesani, designer, took inspiration form nature to create his branch-like light fittings. Credit: Maximilian Marchesani
Non-traditional design materials were also present. Lighting brand ServoMuto experimented in lycra to create a collection of lamps. Odd Matter, a Dutch duo, decontextualized medical materials to present fiberglass and crystalline plaster sculptures at Nilufar Depot.
There was also plenty of upcycling.London-based Italian designer Martino Gamper showcased a series of vintage furniture reinterpreted in a contemporary style at Nilufar Depot; and Ginori 1735 invited artists and international designers to give a second life to porcelains that did not meet the company’s quality standards by hand-painting them and turning them into one-of-a-kind design pieces.
From fashion to furniture
Fashion brands have never shied from playing with interiors. The trend has only grown this year.
Besides the usual suspects Loewe, Hermès, Ralph Lauren and Louis Vuitton — all of which had beautiful installations to present their collections of furnishings (Hermes had house-scale paper lanterns, Ralph Lauren invited guests over at its palazzo, Loewe flaunted an ambitious display at Palazzo Isimbardi called “Weave, Restore, Renew,”Featuring sculptural straw raincoats
Stella McCartney teamed with Cole & Son, wallpaper experts, to create a stunning funghi print that can be used in the home. Credit: Stella McCartney
Prada, which has done furniture before, took it one step further by hosting a two-day multidisciplinary symposium curated and organized by Formafantasma, a research-based studio that explored the relationship between design and natural environment.
Fashion-driven furniture was the hottest topic of the week. This might be the idea for your next home renovation.
Fluid objects and adaptable form
Modular products and stackable accessories were a common theme at Design Week, perhaps in response to growing demand for flexible work-from home spaces.
Salone Satellite presented Vases in a new form. Credit: Isabella Del Grandi
Loose Parts, a Los Angeles-based brand, presented a stunning showcase of modular furniture that can be assembled, disassembled and reassembled. This was partly to reduce furniture landfill waste and encourage reuse, while also exploring the idea of new possibilities within the same space.
At Salone Satellite, Belgrade-based Marija Kojić displayed modular structures for children that could serve as both a play structure and a circular workspace, while Japanese designer Ryosuke Fukusada devised a range of lighting with countless styling options at the main fair.
Rossana Orlandi Gallery, another treasure trove of great design, presented two collections of lights by Marc Wood, a British designer. These can be used as single pendants or stacked to create a variety of creative patterns and shapes.
The future of home design may be based on time-honored crafts. Fuorisalone emphasized traditional techniques and highlighted artisanal creations from international makers.
Two showcases stood out in particular for their craftsmanship. Rossana Orlandi Gallery’s “RoCollectible 2022 | Designers & Crafters,” which displayed the work of international creatives like Bethan Gray and Alvaro Catalán de Ocón; and Doppia Firma, organized by the Michelangelo Foundation for Creativity and Craftsmanship at the historic Palazzo Litta, which presented a collection of pieces created through exchanges between designers or artists and artisans.
The Rossana Orlandi Gallery showcased work from a variety different craftspeople. Credit: Andrea Ceriani
Both the lamps were made with Ghanaian weaving techniques and PET plastic bottles upcycled. The lounge chairs were intricately embroidered using vegetable leather appliques.
Top image: Loose Parts flexible modular furniture