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SALONE DEL MOBILE REPORT 2018

Dear design-lovers,

Milan Design Week 2018 is officially over – at what a blast it was! We are back with so many impressions that our heads are still spinning. So many people, so much to see, to many inspirations. So many colours, patterns and concepts. So much fabulous design!

Let’s break down the most evident themes throughout the Milan exhibitions: The Salone del Mobile and Fuori Saloni 2018 report.

SALONE DEL MOBILE & FUORISALONE 2018: WHAT MEETS THE EYE

Looking at it from a strictly aesthetical point of view we saw a celebration of live. Playful installations, exuberant colours, flower bouquets, bold geometrical patterns, heavy decoration, elaborate structures, and all of that combined into one big festive and positive designy playground – and a cosy one! Things are soft, alluring, comfortable. Flowers, patterns and colours ruled on the streets of Milan as well as in the halls of Salone de Mobile.

SALONE DEL MOBILE & FUORISALONE 2018: EXUBERANT COLOURS & ELABORATE DECORATIONS & COSINESS

Almost all pieces of furniture were dipped into colour and paired either in tone-on-tone assemblies or complimenting each other with a different shade each. There is hardly any hue missing, however the colours are often, despite their brightness, dusty-pastels and toned down just a notch. New to the palette are umbra as well as mustardy and rusty tones, and bright reds are all around! Staying are sage and off course the unavoidable Millenial Pink, that Gemini Design dedicated a whole room to at Zona Tortona.

And not only the furniture wears colour, it spreads onto the walls, too.

SALONE DEL MOBILE & FUORISALONE 2018: NEW SEATING & COSINESS

Textiles are challenging the tactical senses, with cosy but distinct structures in materials like heavy linens on high end sleek sofas. Traditional handcraft and latest technology are interweaving with each other, as we can see fabulously in Hella Jongorius’ Vlinder-Sofa for Vitra. The sofa’s shape is basic, but it is draped with a super soft tailored blanket with one huge textile pattern, that makes the sofa very cosy and personal. For this, textile engineers and hand weavers joined forces and created a new way of producing a tailored “one-off” pattern and creating an haute couture sofa that combines the human touch of crafts with the possibilities of digital technology.

A big thing poufs and cushions placed onto thick rugs. As mentioned in a previous blog post the pouf is back, in all shapes and sizes – and colours! One of the most interesting new seating pieces though was seen at Walter Knoll, where seat cushions and even cushion-like daybeds places in a camouflage onto thick rugs, creating lounge landscapes.

 

SALONE DEL MOBILE & FUORISALONE 2018: MIDCENTURY RECITATION

The strongest influence in the stylistic idiom is unarguably the past: The 50s, 60s and 70s are back, but recycled with a futuristic touch. At Gubi you could see arrangements that make you image what it would have looked like on a Doris-Day-goes to-the-future movie set. Tribute was paid to this not only in furniture and decoration, but also in overall sentiment with David Rockwell’s stunning “installation” The Diner, which was the incarnation of the typical 1950s’ American Diner that experienced a disco makeover.

SALONE DEL MOBILE & FUORISALONE 2018: SOLID WOODS & TACTILE STRUCTURES & PRINT YOUR HOME

When it comes to woods there is no need to say that they have always been one of the most important materials in furniture construction. But during this year’s Salone they experienced a special focus. Solid woods were refined with special treatments during the production process, and finished with inlays, grid-reliefs and haptically delightful textures, and are not only used on furniture and flooring, but also grow over walls.

Textures were even seen on the high-end kitchen designs presented by Boffi, where raised rhombus patterns embellished otherwise concrete and marble kitchen counters.

Special attention went to experimental objects using 3D-printing techniques. At Ventura Future Dome designer Philipp Aduatz and concrete manufacturers incremental3D showcased objects, that show how concrete and 3D-prints can become part of our homes.

Close to the Duomo Massimiliano Locatelli of CLS Architetti and Arup will be 3D-printed a 100-square-foot, four-room house out of concrete.

SALONE DEL MOBILE & FUORISALONE 2018: PLAY & FUN & DISCO

The term play was a strong one all over Milan: If printed on the labels when buying from Hay at phantastic Palazzo Clerici, or as seen at Arper’s Spaces to grow and play, stating that “play is a state of mind”, presenting a wall of building blocks as if to create your own.

The signs are set to a playful and creative approach, stretching the question of how fun can a sofa be before becoming frills and kitsch? While over the last years and with the minimalistic approach of the last decade design has been real serious business, the grey times are over and the fun is back!

There are still some relicts of last season’s velvet, brass and copper element, and of course we have the ever classic of sleek Scandinavian design influences, with light woods and neutral colour schemes.

But when Edward van Vliet shows a sofa completely covered with florets and little birds we could be sure: heaviness has made way for lightness and humour!

Gufram even presented not less than a new collection based on the theme of clubbing: Disco Gufram. They created a contemporary vision of the Disco ’70, and reinterpreted sofas produced more than 40 years ago, naming them Betsy, Tony, Stanley Jimmy and Charley. What would a disco be without its Dance Floor: a series of carpets that incorporate the geometry of the dance floors; and of course the After Party must not be missing: This is the name of the collection with an unavoidable stroboscopic ball melting on the furniture pieces and reminding of that moment just before the lights are turned back on.

At Vitra we saw a different kind of disco: A re-edition of the iconic Panton Chair, high-gloss polished by hand with up to 20 chromatic lasery to create a smooth, mirror-like and spacy look.

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SALONE DEL MOBILE & FUORISALONE 2018, PREVAILING MOTIVATORS SUSTAINABILITY & WASTE NO MORE

To think that Milan Design Week was just an impetuous celebration of beauty and exuberance would be missing the point gravely. Far from it: A very responsible and natural approach to today’s pressuring topics could be witnessed.

A few years back the statement rather was loud and clear than subtile: we need to do something about the evanescent ressources and change our behaviour referring to environmental pollution, otherwise things will look pretty bad pretty fast.

“New standards” were called for, vividly and boldly.

While the message has not changed, the social interaction with it has, and very much so.

These new standards have become just that: standards.  

It is no longer about the “if” in designing and producing sustainably, but the “how”.

The approaches are of various kinds. Beginning with the usage of easily renewable natural materials all the way to the development of new materials made from recycled textiles, fibers, plastics and other. “Waste no more” by Eileen Fisher, co-curated by Philip Fimmano, was meant to be as much a directive art as an art installation. The upcycled textile line DesignWork shows piles of pillows, wall hangings and even a coat made from upcycled materials strategically placed throughout the room. Fisher hopes that the exhibit will serve as a catalyst for brands and manufacturers to suit.

One exhibitor that not only played with the concept of upcycling but really provided a very useful material is Kvadrat. The Danish textile manufacturer teamed up with Really, an initiative that upcycles end-of-life textiles to create materials that challenge the design and architecture. Together they showed Solid Textile Board and Acoustic Textile Felt, two products that are high-quality engineered materials made from end-of-life cotton and wool sourced from textile waste and cut offs from Kvadrat.

SALONE DEL MOBILE & FUORISALONE 2018: SMARTHOMES & UNOBSTRUSIVE TECHNOLOGY

Not totally new is the influence of smart technologies in our lives and homes. But long gone are the days when we would stage our newest tech items as sculptural objects. It became evident that technology should avoid drawing our attention but become more of a standardized helper, because our lives have changed and technology has to react to it. While our devices make us more location-independent lines between public and private, working and living are blurring naturally. We live a certain amount of time in our workplaces and work a certain amount of time at home, and technology harmonizes with our lifestyles and blends into our homes and furniture. “On-line living transforms our homes into a holistic center, where meditation and virtual reality will feed the spirit and train the mind.”, as stated in Li Edelkoort’s exhibition Softwear at Galleria Rossana Orlandi. Our tech products will be softer in their appearance and support us in the simplification of today’s rapidly fast moving times with both soft outers and their software.

A whole exhibition dedicated to “On-Life” was curated by Elle Décor: Millennials at Home at Palazzo Bovara, depicting socio-cutural trends in lifestyle and homes, incorporating devices and technology into furniture and glancing at the selfie-cult with an ironic eye.

 

SALONE DEL MOBILE & FUORISALONE 2018: 

Summing up Milan was a gathering of responsible design, celebrating the vast possibilities the present time presents us with – thinking of new materials, technology and social awareness – while at the same time always giving the subliminal hint that we have and learn to handle the opportunities we have with the responsibility that comes with them. One does no longer go without the other.

And: There is so much fun to it!!!

Linda Bachmeyer