So the Salone Internazionale del Mobile di Milano otherwise known as the Milan design week, is once again upon us and the world’s finest design communities have descended on Milan. With almost 400,000 attendees and over 1200 events, it is without doubt the leading event globally for Interior designers, architects, lighting, kitchen and bathroom designers and other home furnishing companies exhibiting the very latest products that many aspire to have in their homes.
Now in its 56th year it is the largest trade fair of its kind globally and attracts attendees from over 165 countries. The main events are held at Fiera Milano, Brera Design District,
Via Durini, Ventura Lambrate and Tortona (otherwise known as I Navigli), but this colourful event, which Milan embraces so well, is vivid wherever you are in the City.
This year I decided to concentrate my visits on the “fuori Salone”, otherwise known as the fringe events. These are scattered throughout Milan and as well as incorporating many
well-known International brands, promote new emerging artists.
My first stop was Ventura Lambrate which is a mere seven stops on the underground from the City Centre. Now in its 8th edition it is a perfect amalgamation of new notions and thoughts were artists and designers can promote their concepts.
I met a very enthusiastic and passionate architect called Annarita Aversa whose pop up store exhibited the most interesting products under the heading “choose your wood, create your table”. This young and energetic designer from the Amalfi coast whose handcrafting techniques are quite unique, mixed metals with intricate inlaid coloured woods presenting a very southern Mediterranean concept and a tribute to Sorrento’s traditional craftsmanship. In fact her designs have been recently featured in AD (German edition) illustrating a recently completed villa overlooking the Amalfi coast.
Ikea surprisingly, had taken over a huge warehouse called Officina Ventura and featured the Delaktig sofa designed by Tom Dixon (an interesting combination). I was told that this would be launched in late 2017, beginning of 2018.
Michiel van der Kley produced a variety of lamps in eclectic colours with his “no two are the same lights” all printed in 3D. His idea is “choose your size, choose your shape, choose your own colour and Bob’s your uncle”. His lights were simple but brilliant.
Not long before arriving in Milan I had seen a coloured glass table on Instagram which interested me, so I was delighted to meet David Baur the creative director of TEO who designs and produces them. He had not one but four of these hand blown glass “figure tables” on display in bold colours with different tops allowing you to create a different look to suit your room.
Norwegian crafts were represented by a number of talented young artists brought together by Kartin Greling whose exhibition “everything is connected” amalgamated the novelty of Norwegian design and craft using a combination of ceramics, wood and textiles. Two designs caught my eye, the first by Falke Svatun whose sculptural lighting “kantarel” comprises two steel lamps which can be manipulated to control the direction of light and secondly, Kaja Dahl’s Norwegian notes, a series of fragranced objects that act as sensory sculptures for the home.
A quick trip back into central Milan took me to Via Durini for the “Milano Durini Design”. Located close to Milan’s Cathedral – Il Duomo, this focused on high end International brands with the exhibitions based on the meaning of concept design. This felt polished, with excessively beautiful Milanese greeting you at the doors of their showrooms with a smile and a glass of Prosecco!
Meritalia for its 20th edition had a blend of designs past and present. Some colourful lighting and lamps were a fun inclusion, complementing the seating “La Michetta” by Gaetano Pesce and “Snake” coffee table by Carlo Contin.
SCIC who have been creating the most chic kitchens since 1948 included striking and structured bamboo designed panels to the front of their kitchens, taking inspiration from the largest bamboo maze in the world located near Parma, created by architects Pier Carlo Bontempi and Davide Dulto. The combination of these elegant and handsome panels seemed to be the perfect envelope, transforming a kitchen into a piece of artwork in a few sweeping movements. The Fendi kitchens in their show room were equally a masterclass.
Giorgetti who have been producing elegant and timeless pieces since 1898 presented a collection of sophisticated and handsome furniture with precise and brilliant cabinetry. The Poltrona hug by Rossella Pugliatti launched in 2013, was possibly one of my favourite pieces, I am sure that this armchair will become an iconic chair in years to come.
Salvioni’s concept store, which is situated in one of the grandest 20th century buildings in the street presented a luxurious collection of homeware, inventive in their presentation of a readymade apartment. This perfect space on the first floor of the building was impeccable, flowing so well from living, sleeping, dining and tranquil terrace, adorned with structured lighting and huge pots with acers and bamboo.
As expected there was a queue to access B&B Italia and Maxalta’s Interior landscape store. Antonio Citterio featured heavily with his Charles Sofa, designed in 1997 presented in bright orange and the SA Ke’ sofa in a luxurious tan leather by Piero Lissoni. Cassina who continues to bring together visions for the future featured opulent and sumptuous oversized sofas and it was fitting to see a tribute to Mario Bellini, one of Italy’s greatest designers and Architects showing his “932” easy chair.
With the first day coming to an end I had been invited to a drinks launch event at a quintessentially British brand Colefax and Folwer. Based in Brera and which for many years has been the brand of choice by many Royal households around the world. Headed by Christine Siedl, the European Sales Director for the brand, her store had been elegantly prepared with imposing and sophisticated coloured fabrics.
Day 2 – and I headed to Tortona. Located in the South of the City, it was once the heart of Milan’s main industries, hence why you can find some of the best industrial spaces and warehouses. It was in the late 1980’s that many designers, architects and artists started to turn these amazing warehouses into showrooms and workspaces, that the area took on a new and illustrious transformation.
Centred around Via Tortona and Via Savona, some of Italy’s most creative minds are based here mingling with superb Vintage outlets.
A friend of mine was meeting the internationally renowned photographer and Director
Nancy Fina, so I felt honoured to be asked to join them for coffee. An American living in Milan for many years, Nancy’s photography and portraits have helped her build a powerful reputation in the world of fashion and advertising, working not only in Milan, but New York, Shanghai, Beijing and Dubai for the likes of Pucci, Trussardi, Jimmy Choo and Etro.
By late morning Via Tortona was overrun with many of the outlets having lengthy queues. My first stop was at “Soft Design” whose use of “Poliuretano” explored the qualities of flexible polyurethane foam in design, creating the most comfortable seating in pastel colours. The colourful theme seemed to continue with “o Bag” store’s playful light designed by Franco Driusso exploring the combination of light and fragrance – a multisensory delight, and the
“if Bags” who encourage you to choosing your own colour, rope, tip and squares allowing you to be the designer of your own bag.
One of the largest exhibition spaces in Tortona is the Magna Pars space which extends to over 12,000 sq ft, a dazzling early 20th century ex perfume factory hosting a number of exhibitions.
Animated and dramatic colour pallets were most certainly evident within Magan Pars. From “Carpet Signs” lush collection of rugs in gradient designs and electric shades, “sixinch” Cliffy sofa made from a coated foam designed by Rainer Mutsch and “Purho’s” Normanna lamp, a tribute to Sicily’s noble and Mediterranean colours in Amber, deep sea blue and Jade green.
Giulio Tanini’s brand “ex.t” of bathroom furniture, accessories and lighting unites the work of young emerging international designers with Italian artisan production, his bathroom furniture and accessories were very graceful and dignified and would want to make you spend hours in the bathroom!
Roda Studio which specializes in garden furniture had the perfect stage on the first floor terrace covered in Wisteria and honeysuckle, overlooking the gardens of “al fresco” restaurant. Its practical, functional yet distinguished garden furniture with lavish chairs and chaise lounges would look great indoors using materials for outdoors.
Saturday I was going to devote myself to exploring as much of Brera district.
Brera is located in central Milan otherwise known as the historical quarter with the theme this year based on “designing is a game, playing is a project”
Brera’s roads are narrow and the area condensed, yet it has some of the most beautiful buildings in the city and houses the Botanical gardens, Pinacoteca and The Academy of fine Arts. This is where you will find the most Avant Garde interior companies infused with some of the biggest and well-known global brands. It is without doubt my favourite part of the City and if you visit Milan for Il Salone, this is one of the places that you cannot miss!
Although Brera is a small area it certainly has clout. By 10.00am most of the exhibitions and glamorous stores were heaving with “Designistas”.
My first stop took me to Boffi, possibly one of the most flawless showrooms in Milan, it combined an unrivalled refined space mixing contemporary with period features.
Show casing kitchens by Piero Lissoni, lighting by Keiji Takeuchi and bathrooms by Claudio Silvestrin.
Milan continues to have the greatest admiration for the pioneering Architect Zaha Hadid, whose “Boffi_code” freestanding kitchen “Highline” took centre stage in the Boffi showroom. In fact Zaha Hadid’s work can be seen throughout Milan with her City life apartments now completed and her “Twisted Tower” completing this year. Her quote “I am sure that as a woman I can do a very good skyscraper” is oh so true!
I was meeting Patricia Schmeidler a friend of mine who lives between London and Italy, whose “CEA” design showroom presented four new impeccable collections for the bathroom with a vision of sustainability, a true tribute to steel as a pure essence.
Missoni under the creative director Rosita Missoni, with the collaboration of Jannelli & Volpi
launched its powerful and very colourful wallpaper covering “Take it easy”, featuring a knot designed by Missoni in 1969. The inclusion of free posters that you could stamp and take away was a fun freebie!.
“Dedar” in partnership with Hermes presented vibrant, rich and opulent fabrics with chairs covered in warm velvet fabrics and to celebrate its 40 years, combined the designers Gamber and Niedermair in the project “Screenshot”.
As with Tortona, bright colours were very much in vogue this year and “Etro’s” concept store exhibition titled “The Silk Road” was an explosion of Paisley designs covering anything from cushions, beds and lamps shades.
The Belgian family business “Deltalight” exhibited in the Palazzo Crivelli, considered to be one of the most esteemed buildings in Brera, dating back to the 1700’s. It was a splendid yet uncomplicated exposition of dramatic lighting from Dean Skira, Arik Levy and
Ippolito Pestellini Laparelli of OMA. The ornate fresco’s were the perfect scenography for these sculptured lights.
My last stop was at Dilmos which always has the most diverse yet interesting designs with articles selected to represent the most contemporary styles. Dilmos is always fascinating as you are sure to see something a little different. Alessandro Giffo’s vases and bowls in Silicon but seemingly every bit like crystal, Gianni Osgnach’s imaginary fossil armchair made of foam and elastic resin and Daniele Papuli’s intricate paper installations otherwise known as “sulptographies” were just a few of extraordinary products on show.
My trip to Milan was thoroughly enjoyable and I highly recommend visiting “ll Salone del Mobile” if you have an interest in design. I look forward to re visiting next year.
Telephone: 020 7250 1012
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