I attend Milan’s Design Week in April. This furniture fair, otherwise called Salone del Mobile takes place each spring in Milan, Italy. This was my first visit to the show and I was ready with sneakers and iPhone to absorb as much Italian design as possible. I made a point to visit every exhibit hall during 2 exhausting days. On the third day, I focused on the Brera Design District. There, following a street map, I visited innovative site-specific design installations – from fashion houses to cutting edge furniture designers. I was in design heaven! Not to mention, the international design crowd brought their fashion A game. The people watching was amazing.
In looking back at my 1500+ photos taken of new design introductions at the fair, I want to share the following five design trends that stood out to me:
1. Collections of Coffee Tables
At almost every booth there was a striking presentation of multiple coffee tables. Tables arranged together created collected sculptural units. The most interesting groupings were nested together using various shapes, table materials and heights. Most of these arrangements sat between expansive seating areas making them very functional because the multiple tables can be pulled apart and repositioned for maximum flexibility. Every vendor, regardless of style had their own version of the multiple coffee table assembly; some even incorporated fabric ottomans as one of the pieces. Here are a few groupings that caught my eye:
I spotted this collection of coffee tables above at Baxter Furniture. These round tables have various heights and unique bases which create visual interest. In classic gray tones of Statuary marble, black glass and distressed Antique Iron, this collection is very cohesive. I could see it working in a traditional space as well as an ultra modern interior.
This presentation was also at Baxter. Though very simple forms, the materials are very pretty. The large Icaro table made of lined Bianco Gioia marble has soft groves along the length. The Tuscan Pomarance leather top table below nests underneath. Both, mixed with the small round Liquid table in terra cotta resin and the thick glass cocktail table complete the look.
This collection of intersecting travertine, brass and smoked glass tables is by Gianfranco Ferre Home. The masculine yet luxe design is very appealing. I like how they paired the arrangement with a separate thin-framed table with inset round marble top.
2. Disk Lights
There are so many more lighting design possibilities with the use of LED technology. I noticed quite a few thin disk medallion lights. Using smaller cool LED’s designs are now closer to the wall. Here are a few different interpretations of the disk light design:
The CVL Luminaires wall sconces above are called Earth Sun 4 and Earth Turtle 4. Made from satin brass and graphite metal with integrated LED lights, they have a delicate lace-like silhouette when illuminated. These are great for a stairway or on a wet bar wall.
The oversized backlit Bari mirrored sconce by ACB Lighting is perfect for bathrooms, hallways or as a fun wall statement. As show in the photo, they look great in multiples. Using LED light technology they sit about 2” off the wall and have a great glow.
Fun Wheel lights from Aromas del Campo create a stunning display when installed as a group. A mix of brass spoke Wheels and a rattan pattern , all fixtures use mercury glass tipped light bulbs to cast light back on the wall.
Graphic Babu floor lamps are made for IP65 outdoor use. Design by architect, Massimiliano Raggi for Contardi these lights are inspired by tribal and ancient symbols. Decorative outdoor fabrics printed for three-dimensional optical interest are the diffusers over internal LED lamps.
3. Fauna Furniture
Historically, animal motifs have been widly represented in decorative designs and furniture. This year at Salone was no exception. These bold forms are fun, and ironic:
This Duck feet lamp by Porta Romana made in a new finish of gold and yellow ostrich feathers.
The Mini Cabinet by Matteo Cibic is a whimsical piece by Scarlet Splendour. Made of plywood and Brass, this is the perfect eclectic cocktail cabinet.
These matte ceramic Amsterdam wall lights are super fun. They are one of many cheeky designs by Karman Lighting.
4. Sleek Pedestal Sinks
My client recently requested an avant garde aesthetic. These washbasins are a great option and a departure from the customary sinks found in the US. Here are a few I’m considering for future jobs. I love their sculptural silhouettes:
The connection of modern forms on this Lariana freestanding washbasin by Agape Italy is really striking. Green veined marble contrasts matte white ceramic and ebonized wood. Also, the asymmetry of the side shelf is so functional.
Laufen makes another cool design. This sink pedestal is customizable with any color or pattern on the face. Therefore, its a great style solution for kids’ bathrooms. Check out the integrated shelf above the faucet.
The Plateau Round washbasin by Ex.t. Design has a matte finish and curved side shelf. Also, because the shape is so pretty it would be great in most any bathroom.
5. Modern Marquetry
Marquetry is the art of applying pieces of veneer to a structure to form decorative patterns, designs or pictures. It has a long history. There is evidence of furniture inlaid with fine woods, stone, and metal dating back to ancient Roman. Hence, it’s interesting to see the modern interpretation of this old art form. Below are some outstanding pieces I saw at the fair:
Emmemobili introduced the Orbis table designed by Elena Salmistraro. It’s part of a modern marquetry collection made with bold shapes of contrast wood veneers and brass.
Mobi’s modern bar cabinet has double doors covered in graphic pieces of colored suede.
Promemoria’s Amarcord wooden chest is inlaid with with graphic, colorful wood marquetry pieces. For this reason, it’s a wonderful example of the modern marquetry furniture trend.
It’s been fun doing this round up of cool pieces and trends I discovered from Salone del Mobile. I can’t wait to plan my trip back to Milan. It’s such a visually stimulating event for me. I hope it inspired you too!
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