Milan 2011 - In brief

So, the 50th Salone Internazionale del Mobile closed its doors last week and Easter is already upon us. The long weekend has given us time to reflect and absorb some of what we saw. The Salone itself is vast and due to some careful re-assignment of the halls, has managed to squeeze even more in. At the same time, the “Fuori Salone” events that populate the city have grown to over 4,000. It is a mammoth task to try and see everything (we tried and failed), so this post is entitled “In brief” - a taster of the furniture industry’s annual crazy week.

Last year’s Salone was blighted by the ash cloud (still a talking point, one year on) and a lack of innovation amongst manufacturers. As Europe claws its way back from recession, there were signs of new life in some quarters. Kartell heralded this tentative optimism with a flashy Las Vegas-esque stand (above). Elsewhere, the backdrop was predominantly fresh white with flashes of strong colours, as on Porro (below) but the bigger trend was for chunky, sometimes over-scaled knitting, quilting and craft.

The undisputed queen of the Salone, Patricia Urquiola, presented the Biknit lounge chair (below) and Gentry for Moroso, alongside new models of her successful Klara collection, while over on Casamania, they handed the reins to younger designers. Sophie De Vocht presented Loop (below), a dramatic chaise based on the carpet tufting process.

It must be said, it was refreshing to see new designers coming through and less of a reliance on the usual suspects (good as they can be!).

Also on Casamania, were two of the impressive 11 products by Benjamin Hubert on show in Milan this year.
Industry shelving and the Maritime wooden chair, alongside his Crane light for Ӧrsjӧ, and luggage for Nava prove he is a name to watch. At this rate, he may de-throne Ms. Urquiola!

There appeared to be fewer wasteful “window dressing” products, produced purely for their PR value. The Italian industry has struggled over the last 10 years with increased competition from Asia and the world-wide depression and they have had to evaluate where they should invest their time and money. Hopefully this will translate into fewer launches, of higher quality because they honestly believe they can be successful and not just for the column inches they generate.

The sun shone, the volcano behaved and overall some of the energy appeared to have returned to Salone.

Inlay by Front for Porro

Wolfgang by Luca Nichetto for Fornasarig

Michael Anastassiades