It's all aboard for the madness of the annual Milan Furniture Fair, the design industry's equivalent of Fashion Week. Just make sure you've packed comfortable shoes and lots of energy!
BY DEE IVA
It’s that time of year again when the design compass points squarely at Milan, as the northern Italian city prepares to host the world’s largest and most prestigious design gathering, the Milan Furniture Fair. From the biggest international players to small independent designers and graduates, everyone comes together to launch their new collections and to see and be seen.
The Salone del Mobile fair itself, that vast behemoth of halls and walkways on the outskirts of town, is where the big boys tend to set up home but Milan’s design districts – Brera, San Babila, Ventura Lambrate, Cinque Vie, San Gregorio Docet and Tortona – also host a plethora of showrooms, pop-up events and parties celebrating the most important week in the design calendar. There’s change afoot though as a big hole has been left by major British exhibitor designjunction deciding not to show this year and UK talent Lee Broom dramatically downsizing his installation. Usually two of the most anticipated shows during the Fiera, we hope they’ll be back next year in their full glory.
With so much furniture, lighting and accessories to see in a short space of time, it’s impossible to catch everything. Here’s a sneak peek at who we’ll definitely be checking out this year...
ABOVE: 'Fade' polycarbonate lights by Tom Dixon
ATELIER SWAROVSKI HOME
ABOVE: 'Printed' crystal vases and bowls by Raw Edges; Crystalline nut bowls from the 'Luxe Orbit' tableware collection by Tord Boontje; 'Prism' square and round prismatic trays by Tomas Alonso
We have fond memories of Swarovski's theatrical warehouse installations of the Noughties when we were dazzled by enormous chandeliers by the likes of Lenny Kravitz and Yves Behar. After a spell in the heart of the Salone, the Austrian crystal brand is now stepping back out onto the street again to unveil Atelier Swarovski Home, a new collection of sparkling accessories for the home. Nadja Swarovski has gathered together a stellar line-up of designers including Raw Edges, Fredrikson Stallard, Ron Arad and Tord Boontje and charged them with using Swarovski crystal to create unique pieces in their own inimitable style. We've got our eyes on Raw Edges' beautiful faceted printed crystal vases and bowls, Tomas Alonso's prismatic trays and Tord Boontje's glittering 'Luxe Orbit' tableware.
Atelier Swarovski Home, Via Cusani 5
THE RESTAURANT BY CAESARSTONE X TOM DIXON
If you want to grab a bite to eat and still get your design fix, Brit star Tom Dixon has collaborated with Caesarstone to create immersive eatery The Restaurant within a deconsecrated church to launch new lighting collections 'Curve', 'Fade' and 'Flask Oil'. Throughout the week four composite quartz kitchens will serve up tasty treats to Dixon devotees in specially designed dining halls dedicated to the themes of Luminosity, Materiality and Texture. Each explores the type of materials that are core to Dixon's products. The four kitchens, dubbed Earth, Water, Fire and Air, will dish up one course each, with food design studio Arabeschi di Latte curating the offerings.
'Curve' uses thin sheet etched metal to create a glistening geometric lantern, 'Fade' rocks the ombré effect in polycarbonate and 'Flask Oil', inspired by laboratory glassware, explores the allure of iridescence in shimmering glass shades. Also on show will be updated versions of last year's 'Melt' lights and 'Offcut', Dixon's DIY furniture range. Now can someone pass the menu please?
The Restaurant by Caesarstone x Tom Dixon, La Rotonda della Besana, Via Enrico Besana 12
BISAZZA X STUDIO JOB
Italian tilemeister Bisazza has once again harnessed the neo-gothic anarchy of Job Smeets and Nynke Tynagel, aka Studio Job, to create a set of striking mosaics with a digitised contemporary feel. Three new highly decorative designs reference fossilised remains, the Industrial Revolution and random everyday objects.
TOP: 'Industry Amber', 'Silhouette Turquoise', 'Perished', glass mosaics, 100mm x 100mm
ABOVE: 'Festoon', glass mosaic, 200mm x 200mm
‘Industry Amber’ harks back to Britain’s golden age of heavy manufacturing, steam trains and construction. Spacemen, birds, animals, helicopters and ocean liners are artfully collaged together in ’Silhouette Turquoise' and Fizz fave 'Perished’ is a graphic arrangement of human and animal skeletons locked in an eternal dance of death (we love the blue colourway). Accompanied by ‘Festoon’, a swirling display of gold and silver ribbons, this collection of bold mosaics brings the art of storytelling back into our homes. We are suitably entranced…
Bisazza, Via Senato 2
DIESEL LIVING X FOSCARINI
ABOVE: Light up with 'Vent', by Diesel Living x Foscarini. Available in luxe brass effect and pristine white
Diesel Living’s fresh, slightly off-the-wall approach to product design never fails to capture our attention. From the cog-like ceramics of the ‘Machine’ tablewares for Seletti to the multi-faceted ‘Rock’ light for Foscarini, this witty take on interiors is why we look forward to their new collections each year.
The interiors arm of fashion brand Diesel, they’ve joined forces with Foscarini again to transform the humble air vent into a seductive wall lamp. Part of the 2016 collection of lighting, furniture and accessories, the 'Vent' lamp brings a touch of industrial style into the home. We’re loving the opulent brass version, which when activated becomes a blazing halo of golden light.
Diesel Living x Foscarini, Salone Del Mobile, Milan Fairgrounds, Rho, Hall 16, Stand A35, B28
UK designer Lee Broom has surprised everyone with the announcement that this year's show will take place in the back of a van. Cheekily called the 'Salone del Automobile', Broom's delivery van will rock up at key design destinations each day, including Spazio Rossana Orlandi, to show just one new collection of lighting. Inspired by Op Art, the 'Optical' range consists of stark black and white pendant, standard and table lamps that also reference Eighties graphics and early nineties minimalism. The inside of the van will be decked out in neo-classical style in Broom's signature grey but the question on our minds is just how the teeming crowds in town for the Milan Furniture Fair will fit into such a small space. We'll just have to wait and see...
Lee Broom's 'Salone del Automobile' can be tracked at leebroom.com
The Milan Furniture Fair and Salone del Mobile run from 12-17 April 2016