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The Merry-go-round of Milan

June 1, 2017

Highlights and trends from the 2017 Salone del Mobile.

From April 4-9, the annual Salone del Mobile furniture fair celebrated both the industry and the show’s 56th year. From the vibrant district of Brera to the almost mile-long, Massimiliano Fuksas-designed Rho trade fair, a total of 343,602 visitors from 165 countries walked the show. The city of Milan was also packed with manufacturers, retailers, architects, and design devotees gathered at the Fuorisalone events to look, lounge, and interact with the latest in furnishings from around the globe.

A passing of the torch was definitely in play as old-guard Milanese designers quietly recede and a younger generation of global talent takes the reigns. This year’s Euroluce, the 29th biennial of lighting, emphasized innovation and featured design duo Andrea Trimarchi and Simone Farresin of Formafantasma. Their work was exhibited at the Flos booth and also at Spazio Krizia where “Foundation,” their presentation of 16 lights, highlighted the studio’s technical oeuvre.

Each year, distinct colors, patterns, and materials are revealed that fast become trends. Though last year’s palette du jour of marble and pink are
still in production, 2017 offered yellow, deep rust, and fifty shades of green. Glass in many forms included vases by Tokujin Yoshioka for Glas Italia, hanging
pendant lights from Czech manufacturer Lasvit, and Decode/Recode, a gorgeous installation from the Venetian glass company Salviati.

While international companies displayed products at Rho, large-scale installations were found in hidden courtyards and villas around town. Audi City Lab presented “Sonic Pendulum” by Japanese sound designer Yuri Suzuki, who programmed 30 oversized spheres to hum while swinging simultaneously. “Insta-worthy” moments included the second-annual Design Pride Parade and an interactive bubble-blowing tree, called New Spring, sponsored by clothier COS and created by London-based Studio Swine. In the Ventura Lambrate neighborhood, stalwart Swedish brand Ikea held a weeklong festival next door to newbie companies presenting experimental
art and design. This year, the Ventura organizers expanded their reach to Stazione Centrale, where products by British designer Lee Broom—who was celebrating his company’s 10th anniversary—were displayed with Time Machine, a full-scale carousel. Luxury labels like Louis Vuitton, Swarovski, Cartier, and Hermés also debuted their latest product offerings in palazzos, gardens, and even a parking garage.

Brit designer and entrepreneur Tom Dixon commandeered a 1950s theater to present Multiplex, a mash-up of brands and products presented as pop-up displays. Dixon’s own Delaktig modular sofa bed for Ikea, due out in 2018, was juxtaposed with film screenings in the cinema upstairs. Downstairs in the Galleria, a startup called Rag A Muf debuted chair covers woven from remnants made by Syrian refugees. Manufacturers are finally embracing sustainability as companies including Kvadrat repurpose materials into products such as Really, a solid surface used in furniture and made from textile waste.

Americans, particularly New Yorkers, seized the opportunity to exhibit new products. Brooklyn creator Fernando Mastrangelo, for example, presented his Escape collection at Rossana Orlandi’s design emporium. Apparatus Studio, Roll & Hill, and Lindsey Adelman all presented new lighting while the husband-and-wife team behind Calico showcased the Topographies Collection of wallpaper by Snarkitecture, a Brooklyn architecture firm.

The Japan-based Nendo, with principal Oki Sato, presented numerous introductions at the exhibition “Invisible Outlines,” held at fashion designer Jil Sander’s retail showroom. The multimedia display featured a joint capsule collection of clothing as well as home products like Wobbly Jellyfish Vases made from silicone, carpets for Nodus, and more lighting for Flos. The scope of work was impressive and symbolized the ongoing growth and transformation of Salone while highlighting innovative design.

Floe Insel,  Cassina   
Patricia Urquiola’s latest three-seat sofa and pouf from Cassina, called Floe Insel, is reminiscent of a floating, soft island in icy blue. Using state-of-the art manufacturing, the belted tubular steel structure is padded with foam, resulting in flexible yet comfortable seating that can be covered in removable leather or upholstery.

Arcos, Arper   
Arper’s new seating collection Arcos fuses simple forms in lacquered cast aluminum. Designed by the Barcelona studio of Lievore Altherr, the curved armrests on the
upholstered chair, lounge chair, and sofa are produced in the spirit of art deco.

Pudica Chair and Nix Lighting, Matter Made   
American manufacturer Matter Made held its first presentation in Milan, titled “MM XVII.” Pudica, a minimalist metal chair by Brazilian designer Pedro Paulo Venzon, was shown with Matter Made’s Nix LED pendant light manufactured with an adjustable ball-joint attached to an aluminum stem.

Blush Lamp,  Flos   
This year marks the first industrial product by Amsterdam-based duo Andrea Trimarchi and Simone Farresin of Formafantasma. Blush Lamp, a vertical light offered in painted black, white, or brushed extruded aluminum, casts multi-colored reflections by utilizing an LED strip and either warm or cool dichroic glass.

Escape, Fernando Mastrangelo   
Furniture reimagined as paintings is the concept behind Escape, Fernando Mastrangelo’s collection produced in gradient tones. Made from Silica, a material with a lava-like texture; hand-dyed sand; and crystalline, an almost translucent powdered glass, the surfaces merge to form fluid landscapes on three-dimensional forms.

Filo, Foscarini    
Trained as a philosopher, Italian designer Andrea Anastasio was inspired by his time with Ettore Sottsass and Memphis when creating the Filo light for Foscarini.
A combination of blown glass, porcelain, cable, and metal, the series varies in color and composition and is available in table, floor, or pendant versions.

Amable, Paola Lenti   
Italian designer Paola Lenti is known for creating an oasis of calm. This year, Lenti moved her presentation to the outskirts of the city while featuring a collection that embraced indoor and outdoor life. Amable, a new stackable chair, is made of varnished stainless steel and molded plastic seat with a removable cover. Produced from Lenti’s signature rope sewn with a spiral-like pattern, the braiding provides additional comfort.

Okome, Alias   
Tokyo-based Nendo created the Okome (“rice” in Japanese) sofa system, comprised of multiple modular shapes and styles. The frameless wood structures encompass 20 variations of seats, arms, and backrests available in a choice of Kvadrat upholstery.

Screenshot, Dedar   
Photographer Brigitte Niedermair and designer Martino Gamper, both from Northern Italy, collaborated with textile brand Dedar on Screenshot, inspired by the history of art. By utilizing Dominant Color Lazy Loading, a Google algorithm common in the digital world, the duo created patterned grid panels highlighting the dominant color of blue. From artists like Picasso—whose blue period was a theme—to Giotto, Yves Klein, Vincent Van Gogh, and Henri Matisse, the grids were applied to Dedar’s Tabularasa satin cotton using inkjet printing techniques.

Decode/Recode, Salviati   
Italian designer Luca Nichetto partnered with Ben Gorham of fragrance company Byredo on a stunning presentation of Venetian glass. Installed as twin installations Pyrae and Strata in the Ventura Centrale space, the Pyrae (shown) included 53 illuminated hand-blown glass totems in 15 colors, composed of 25 forms, utilizing 10 glass-blowing techniques.

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