10th May 2016

Milan. Things I saw and liked.

Sunglasses, gelato, pizza, piazzas, Negroni, Aperol Spritzers, the cathedral, flamingos, the last supper, those teeny little cars and hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of designers. Milan has a lot going on.

You’d think it might be overwhelming or daunting. But it isn’t. Visiting the Milan Furniture Fair is tiring, no doubt about that – hours on end of stomping from location to location takes it out of you. I’m thinking of starting up a Just Giving page for next year in fact. But it’s not overwhelming. I always leave disappointed in myself for not having seen more.

I was asked to write about new trends. If I’m honest, I’m not sure I saw any. I mean, just because one chair is painted neon orange (cool, fyi) does that mean there’s a new trend for furniture that leaves an imprint at the back of your retina when you look away? If I start wearing odd shoes, can I claim to have started a trend in fashion? Anyway, here are some snaps of things I saw and liked. See if you can spot any new trends.

USM unveiled a cute display of their new product range, the pressed felt Inos storage containers. Various objects, the kind you’d want to pop in a box like scissors or forks or a massive engagement ring, dangled, rotating slightly in the cool air-conditioned breeze. A kind of mobile. At the Mobile.

USM at Fiera Milano

USM at Fiera Milano

The Inos boxes themselves are neat. Really nicely made out of pressed felt and in inconspicuous greys, obviously they’re measured to fit snugly into USM Haller storage, but these could be used anywhere standalone.

Inos Boxes by USM

Inos Boxes by USM

Inos Boxes by USM

Inos Boxes by USM

 

Then there were two incredible cactus at Muuto and one of the best, most joyous lamps I’ve seen since we made circuits at school to learn about electric currents.

Muuto cactus

Muuto cactus

CONTROL lamp by TAF Architects for Muuto

CONTROL lamp by TAF Architects for Muuto

 

Artek were showing off, in a typically understated fashion, the new REB Kaari series of shelves, barely designed by Ronan & Erwan Bouroullec. A selection of elements from brand heroes Stool 60 and Wall Shelf were pinned up to a wall to create a graphic display of the perfect elements that are the epitome of Artek’s signature style.

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Kaari Collection by Ronan & Erwan Bouroullec for Artek, plus elements from the iconic back catalogue.

 

And then there was these succulents at Dedon. I couldn’t see anything else on their stand and had to leave when I started to worry that dusk might fall before I could safely get off the booth. It was foolish, in retrospect, to go in without a guide.

Dedon at Fiera Milano

Dedon at Fiera Milano

 

At Thonet this fluro number caught my eye. I mean, how could it not? It’s nice to see sometimes that a classic like this Lehnstuhl isn’t considered above a bit of fun. Although, will this age as well as the natural beechwood original? Check back in 30 years.

Limited edition Gebruder Thonet Vienna (GTV) Lehnstuhl by Nigel Coates

Limited edition Gebruder Thonet Vienna (GTV) Lehnstuhl by Nigel Coates

 

Kristalia showed a variety of great products from the new Colander Chair, the beautifully simple Hole Table and, of course, some cactus.

Hole by Kensaku Oshiro for Kristalia

Hole by Kensaku Oshiro for Kristalia

 

Cactus at Kristalia

Cactus at Kristalia

 

Jasper Morrison reached peak normal at Vitra with his Occasional Lounge Chair, Soft Modular Sofa and a very familiar All Plastic Chair. Also, plants.

Wooden Side Table by Ronan & Erwan Bouroullec; Occasional Lounge Chair by Jasper Morrison.

Wooden Side Table by Ronan & Erwan Bouroullec; Occasional Lounge Chair by Jasper Morrison

 

All Plastic Chair by Jasper Morrison for Vitra

All Plastic Chair by Jasper Morrison for Vitra

 

Glas Italia’s Shimmer table range was spellbinding – those simple cuts and shapes cast out a graceful glow. By HRH Patricia Urquiola, fyi. There was also an insanely cool riveted galss cabinet by Piero Lissoni that was so different – Urquiola so modern, Lissoni so classic. Both so cool.

Shimmer Table by Patricia Urquiola for Glas Italia

Shimmer Table by Patricia Urquiola for Glas Italia

 

Commodore by Piero LIssoni for Glas Italia

Commodore by Piero Lissoni for Glas Italia

 

I didn’t mean to visit Swarovski. It just happened. I walked into a courtyard out of curiosity – it was a nice one – and realised I was surrounded by half a dozen men, who I think were models dressed as security. Feeling that backing out of the courtyard would show my fear I continued as casually as possible into what turned out to be a beautiful display of shiny, twinkly things that were not at all tacky jewellery. Swarovski make home accessories now? Interesting. These vases and bowls are by Raw Edges for Swarovski.

Raw Edges for Swarovski

Raw Edges for Swarovski

 

I don’t know what this is, or who Citco are, but this thing by Daniel Libeskind is one of the best things I have ever seen. One day someone will kick closed their front door behind them, dump their bag on the floor and throw their keys on this before going into their kitchen, which will have been carved out of ice, to open a cold beer after a hard days work trying to defeat Superman. I assume anyway. What else is a 30 foot long slab of marble for? Also some very cute lamps.

Enigma Table by Daniel Liebskind for Citco

Enigma Table by Daniel Libeskind for Citco

 

Totem lamps by Ferrucio Laviani for Citco

Totem lamps by Ferrucio Laviani for Citco

 

I always visit Kartell’s stand. It’s sort of sentimental to me. I first realised I loved furniture when I worked at Habitat on the Kings Road as a teenager. Despite Tom Dixon being our Creative Director, theirs was one of the only brands of furniture we stocked. That’s not to say I particularly like Kartell furniture – I do, but haven’t liked any enough to buy it – but it taught me to look out for manufacturers who had identity and their own style. And Kartell’s style on their stands is fun. They go big, bold and on this occasion…sickening. Something about their brightly coloured, vast walls and varied angles. Eugh. But their new homewares were snazzy.

Kartell at Fiera Milano

Kartell at Fiera Milano

 

Jellies Family by Patricia Urquiola for Kartell

Jellies Family by Patricia Urquiola for Kartell

 

Diesel Living were some strewn socks away from being the most boyish stand in the world. Loved it. There was a space themed dining room complete with moon surface patterned lamps, plates, cabinets. Spacemen, rockets and geological gems accessorised to perfection. And cactus. Space cactus.

Diesel Living and Moroso at Fiera Milan. Including cactus.

Diesel Living and Moroso at Fiera Milan. Including cactus.

 

I want to go back to Frame’s What’s The Matter: Design for a Phygital World exhibition. It was so exciting. Hope it travels. I couldn’t even begin to explain the way some of the pieces thrill. And I need to learn what the hell a Phygital World is.

Ricoh's installation for the FRAME exhibition What's The Matter?

Ricoh’s installation for the FRAME exhibition What’s The Matter?

 

Rachel Harding for FRAME exhibition What's The Matter?

Rachel Harding for FRAME exhibition What’s The Matter?

 

Molteni & Co had a greenhouse and real lemons growing along the walls. So there. They also had two or three home desks, all wood. One of the few manufacturers taking flexible working on – and they’re not even contract.

Molteni & C at Fiera Milano, including Ink desk by Jasper Morrison

Molteni & C at Fiera Milano, including Ink desk by Jasper Morrison

 

Natuzzi were so precious about their plants they has a security guy to deny anyone who looked  like they might scratch their girl’s name in a trunk.

Natuzzi security checkpoint

Natuzzi security checkpoint

 

Zanotta appeared to have given up on furniture and gone into gardening. I couldn’t go on their stand in case the humidity made my hair frizz.

Zanotta at Fiera Milano

Zanotta at Fiera Milano

Alias cleverly accessorised their plants with some Gran Kobi chairs.

Gran Kobi Chairs by Patrick Norguet for Alias

Gran Kobi Chairs by Patrick Norguet for Alias

 

And look at the size of the palm on RODA’s booth. Or maybe…was there before they were? And they had to build their stand around it??

Roda at Fiera Milano

Roda at Fiera Milano

 

So in summary, this year I think the standout trend in furniture design is…plants.  Mostly of the cactus variety. Go big, whack it in a terracotta pot and hey presto – casual sophistication? Come in!

 

 

 

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