The Salone del mobile is great fun, overwhelmingly huge and a place of pilgrimage for enthusiasts of design and furniture. But when the Campari, Grappa and Espresso have been drunk, the gelato sampled and even the occasional solid food considered, what is there to be learned from rubbing shoulders with more than 2,500 manufacturers and half a million visitors? The daybed above, is ‘Jeanne’ together with corner unit ‘Belisaire’. The day-bed is in “moss” velvet with “praline” leather mattress, corner arabesque backrest upholstered in turquoise velvet and brocade with large motifs of “chocolate” and “moss” palm leaves. It is extended by a corner seat covered in same brocade, with arabesque backrest upholstered in turquoise velvet and “praline” leather decorated with a “passementerie” cord holding two tassels. And where does such confident, opulent design come from? Well it is a collaboration between a certain Mr. Christian Lacroix and equally legendary Italian Glass Mosaic Artists SICIS. It will be in their showrooms from July.
These are my musings from Milan .
The recession doesn’t seem to be hurting high end furniture or design.
Beautifully made furniture, both modern and more traditional could be seen in abundance. And at the very top of the market some people tell us that business has never been better, others simply say its good. No one is crying into their Grappa and if they are, they aren’t doing it in public. The people who are most optimistic are the companies who are producing well made, imaginative furniture and lighting for people who continue to want the best and are willing to pay for it. They are developing and launching new collections and winning the attention of people with money to spend. The chair and footstool above are from Spini, a small example of their wonderful, sumptuous , ever glamorous range.
People like fun.
One of the most popular stands we saw was B Lab Italia who make glass and silver football tables designed by Adriano Design and known as the Techell Collection. Elsewhere companies who aren’t afraid of a little humour seemed to be attracting the crowds. The magic formula seems to be to combine quality and a quirk.
But traditional Italian style isn’t attracting so much attention
The only halls that felt a bit empty were the ones set aside for ‘classic design’. These were the only places where proprietors could be seen chatting to each other with long faces and lurking by ornate, complex furniture waiting to pounce on unsuspecting visitors. Maybe the true style of Italy is to keep developing, keep surprising. As I walked up and down the ‘classic design’ halls I had the sensation of not seeing a thousand armoires, rather seeing the same armoire a thousand times.
You don’t have to be from Italy, but…
There were only a few hundred exhibitors from outside Italy but many of the foreign companies who had bravely taken positions within the main trade fair or in one of the Design districts really stood out. And there was some great non- Italian European design outside of the Fair. The Portuguese collection in the Tortona district deserves a special mention and will get a blog of their own over the next few days. In the meantime we are showing you Alfama by Tralhao Furniture. We think it may be the only product they make but they do it very well. There were a number of notable Brits at the show, like Tom Dixon, Modus, Anglepoise, the venerable Jimmie Martin and others, but not many Americans. What’s that all about? With the majority of the half million visitors from outside of Italy would this not be a good place to find some great American design as well?
There is some fantastic lighting on the market
Again, the subject of another blog, but we saw acre upon acre of highly desirable lights. We saw some spectacular crystal chandeliers, as you would expect in Italy, but we also saw some really interesting modern lights and a lot of interesting things done with LCDs. This is Folia Suspensione, part of the MA&DE range by Linea Light. It boasts an aluminum and carbon fiber mount.
We missed our bath tubs
And we missed seeing kitchens as well. Kitchens feature every other year at the Salone but to find interesting bathrooms you need to venture into town. It was great to once again see the folks at Grohe with their fabulous spa collection and the Enco Islet Bathroom shown above also helped us to get our tub desire fix. But can we just warn you – their website is unimaginatively awful. Why do people do this ?
And the fashion: Italian women seem to have ironed their clothes while they were already wearing them.
How do they look so smart all the time? And is there no Italian word for ‘baggy jeans’? This one via Sartorialist.
Its a great place, a great show and if you are even slightly tempted , stop hesitating and book yourself in for next year. I’ll be there – somewhere, I’ll buy you a drink, or you can buy me one. My top tip is to plan ahead, grab a hotel in the centre of town, split your time between the fair and the many events in town and stay all week. Its bigger than you think.
And when you are done, why not book a week at Lake Como (which is where Modenus’ Pete and Kate are right now – rats). Seriously, you are going to be exhausted. The Google Earth picture above shows the fair ground real size and as you can see it is almost the size of Switzerland. OK, that’s a lie, I faked it up, but it is over half a million square foot of furniture, lighting and more. I think that is the same as around a hundred football pitches. Don’t be surprised if you are a little tired by the end of the day!