When purple wisteria vines appear in April, they signal the start of spring and the beginning of a week of events, exhibitions, and festivities, which comprise the Salone del Mobile furniture fair in Milan. Held at the Rho fairgrounds, this year’s 55th edition welcomed 372,151 visitors who came to look, feel, and inspect furnishings, lighting, accessories, and bath fixtures displayed by over 2,400 exhibitors and manufacturers from Italy and around the globe.
Tropical motifs, graphic black and white patterns, metallic, marble, stone, and soft pastels including pink, were just a few of the many interior trends spotted at the fair and on city streets. Fashion has become synonymous with Salone and this year was no exception. Sneaker manufacturer Nike made the scene with “The Nature of Motion,” an exhibition which presented inventive applications for Flynit, a proprietary material created for running shoes while fashion pop-up exhibitions featured brands like COS, Marni, and Loewe. Vitra House, an offsite presentation by the Swiss furniture company, included manicure stations with a choice of nail polish for visitors wishing to alter their color mood.
Gastronomy, cooking, and culinary lives were highlighted La Dolce Vita-style at Eurocucina, the biennial exhibition which showcases the latest in cutting-edge technology for kitchens. “It’s become a place devoted to the ritual of cooking, and an extension of the interior of the home,” said Vincent van Duysen when explaining his new concept for Dada. The Belgian architect was in Milan staging his first collection as Creative Director for Molteni—and debuted VVD, a sleek modernist scheme inspired by natural materials for the company’s kitchen brand.
At the fair and offsite at Fuorisalone, international creatives presented tables, chairs, sofas, and accessories that also emphasized dining, as well as lounging and food. London-based designer Tom Dixon, who partnered with the quartz counter and surface manufacturer Caesarstone, transformed the Rotonda della Besana—a baroque building in the shape of a cross—into “The Restaurant,” an experimental dining hall. Dixon chose the elements of fire, water, earth, and air, which he employed as themes for the décor and paired with a complementary menu curated by Milanese food studio Arabeschi di Latte. Four distinct kitchen stations and tables were assembled in neutral palettes that transcended the physicality of the themes with added flourishes of Dixon’s product lines in brass, copper, glass, and wood. Guests were served glazed root vegetables, vegetables in broth, puffy bread, and chicken cooked under a brick signifying the elements through actual plated food.
Tabletop décor and serve-ware by Japanese porcelain company Arita, Danish silver manufacturer George Jensen, and Austrian crystal brand Swarovski were also on view, adding elegance to the dining tableau, while decorative illustrations inspired by Sicilian carts were hand painted on Smeg refrigerators. Italian chefs were also inspired, serving special meals in discreet locales, including Salone’s gala dinner held in the artisan workshops of Milan’s famed La Scala Opera House.
Here are a few top picks from the many introductions made at the fair held April 12-17, 2016.
Makers and Bakers, AIRBNB
New York entrepreneur and curator Ambra Medda teamed up with New Zealand-based interior designer Katie Lockhart to produce Makers+Bakers, a pop-up eatery in design doyenne Rosanna Orlandi’s restaurant Marta. The women enlisted 22 product designers including Martino Gamper, Bethan Laura Wood and Barber & Ogersby along with sister bakers to present unique accessories for the table, with a sampling of breads and beverages sponsored by airbnb.
Dutch designer Aldo Bakker trained as a silversmith before engaging with tabletop forms manufactured in porcelain and glass. For Atelier Swarovski Home, the Austrian crystal company’s first foray into domestic accessories, Bakker created a series of three modular vases, which juxtapose Austrian crystal with faceted Italian marble. Nine designers were selected to create crystal objects ranging from a chess set by Daniel Libeskind to crystal bookends by Ron Arad.
German-born Christophe de la Fontaine launched Dante, Goods and Bads with artist Aylin Langreuter in 2012. Together they’ve created a unique vision based on a collaborative spirit. Each year, Dante invites a special guest, and for the 2016 edition titled, “Parallel Choice Assortment,” they asked French photographer Camille Vivier to inspire their collection including the round Bavaresk dining table offered in marble or laminate top with beech legs, lacquered in white/black/bordeaux/rosé and green metallic.
To celebrate Japanese porcelain company Arita’s 400th anniversary the company launched a new brand, which highlights 16 collections of contemporary porcelain. Arita’s skilled artisans collaborated with international designers chosen by Creative Directors Teruhiro Yanagihara and the Dutch design duo Scholten & Baijings. The end result is a new generation of contemporary Arita porcelain that bridges ancient techniques of the Saga Prefecture in Japan with 21st century design minds of the Netherlands. (Shown), 2016/ Collection Scholten & Baijings. Photography Scheltens & Abbenes.
Ortensia, or hydrangea is a new motif created by Barnaba Fornasetti, son of Piero, the legendary architect and designer. Inspired by plants surrounding Casa Fornasetti in Milan, the son incorporated his father’s original pattern from Tema e Variazioni with a reinterpretation of the face of Lina Cavalieri peeking from behind hydrangeas. The collection includes tables, a cabinet, and chairs with every piece printed, painted and lacquered by hand.
Milan furniture designer Patricia Urquiola partnered with local graphic artist Federico Pepe on the Credenza capsule collection of furniture, including tables, screens, and a cabinet fitted with stained-glass panels and inspired by cathedral art. The duo enlisted traditional artisans who integrated the pop graphic patterns into contemporary form, while the term Credenza translates from Italian into cupboard as well as one’s belief.
Soft Modular Sofa, Vitra
London and Tokyo-based industrial designer Jasper Morrison has a long history working with the Swiss brand Vitra. His latest furniture line includes a low-slung, rounded modular pink sofa, which he describes as “Super-Normal,” a phrase he refers to when describing his ultra-functional, minimalist aesthetic which works in both residential and contract settings.
Papiro Collection, Budri
Patricia Urquiola’s talent extends beyond glass to the Papiro Collection, a series of marble wallpapers she created for Italian marble inlay company Budri. The pastel patterning in shades of onyx, pink and aquamarine marbles created from Bianco Sivec, Bardiglio, Bianco Carrara, Rosa Portogallo, and salmon pink form an alternating series that can be applied to walls and flat surfaces. The five graphic patterns include Amélie, Ballon (shown), Biscuit, Bonbon, and Cône.
Fashion designers Domenico Dolce & Stefano Gabbana partnered with Italian appliance brand Smeg to decorate an edition of 100 of their
FAB28 refrigerators embellished with one-of-a-kind handpainted images including cartwheels, medieval knights, and lemons.
Belgian architect Vincent Van Duysen created a line of unassuming outdoor lights that are sculptural in look and feel. Made from raw materials including concrete, oxidized bronze, and cast iron, a coated aluminum version is available in white, aluminum, anthracite, black, or rust red. The compact shape diffuses while LED beams are bright enough to light a garden or path.
Snaidero presented Kelly, a classic white kitchen which mixes old world charm with modern pragmatism. Designed by Massimo Iosa Ghini, multiple large glass storage cabinets underscore a return to showcasing traditional design.