After a year’s hiatus due to the pandemic and a scaled-down iteration in September 2021, Milan’s Salone del Mobile – the international design fair that’s been held annually since 1961 – was back in full force last week. Beyond the fair itself, which was packed with big names in the interior design world, Fuorisalone saw young creatives and smaller brands taking over galleries, abandoned spaces and art centers across the city with shows and installations, proposing new ideas for our homes of tomorrow might look like.
From sustainability to groundbreaking designs and an emphasis on craftsmanship, here are some of the highlights and food stalls from the event.
Bring the outside inside
Perhaps in response to the amount of time spent indoors over the past two years, nature and organic materials have underpinned many of Milan Design Week’s most interesting works. In the Brera neighborhood, Brooklyn-based Calico Wallpaper partnered with international interior design studio AB Concept to present a Japanese Alps-inspired wallpaper in collaboration with interior design studio AB Concept, aiming to create an immersive forest experience in the 5 Vie area of Berlin The all-female collective Matter of Course debuted a range of home furnishings made from wood, clay and water.
Decor inspired by nature could become a future interior trend. Forest of Reflection uses a grass-like rug and Alpine-inspired wallpaper to create a serene space. Recognition: Jonathan Hokklo
At Alcova, a traveling exhibition taking over the run-down Centro Ospedaliero Militare di Baggio, natural stone brand SolidNature collaborated with Dutch designer Sabine Marcelis and architects OMA to reimagine home furniture as monolithic slabs of onyx and marble to create a monumental bathroom , a multi-functional rotating closet and an imposing (if perhaps not very comfortable) bed.
Milan-based DWA Design Studio brought raw materials inside with a table made of earth and wildflowers; while industrial design students at Muthesius Hochschule used air as the design material for ten inflatable products, including a transparent suitcase and an inflatable seat.
The design fair also included futuristic-looking furniture made from unprocessed raw materials. Recognition: Matteo Parodi
The lighting also took inspiration from nature, with designer Maximilian Marchesani whose display featured hanging branches with LED flowers and furry glowsticks encased in silk, a natural conductor of electricity.
Recycled, repurposed, reinvented
Sustainability was a big theme during Design Week.
At Alcova, Italian acoustics company Slalom used recycled plastic bottles to build a subdued, colorful space that could double as a silent space; and California-based Prowl Studio introduced a lounge furniture collection that incorporates eco-friendly materials and computer-generated upholstery. Meanwhile, at the Salone Satellite, a hub for emerging designers under 35, around 600 exhibitors showcased work around the theme of “designing for our future selfs” with a focus on sustainable practices.
Designer Maximilian Marchesani was inspired by nature for his branch-like lights. Recognition: Maximilian Marchesani
Unconventional design materials also appeared. Lighting design brand ServoMuto experimented with Lycra to create a lamp collection. Meanwhile, at the art space Nilufar Depot, Dutch duo Odd Matter decontextualized the application of medical materials to present sculptures made of fiberglass and crystalline plaster.
There was also a lot of upcycling. London-based Italian designer Martino Gamper presented a range of vintage furniture reinterpreted in a contemporary style at Nilufar Depot; and Ginori 1735 invited artists and international designers to breathe a second life into porcelains that did not meet the company’s quality standards, hand-painting them and transforming them into unique design pieces.
From fashion to furniture
Fashion brands have never shied away from playing with interiors. This year, however, has shown that the trend is only aimed at growth.
Alongside the usual suspects, Loewe, Hermès, Ralph Lauren and Louis Vuitton – all of whom had beautiful installations to display their furniture collections (Hermes had house-sized paper lanterns, Ralph Lauren invited guests to his palazzo, Loewe staged an ambitious exhibition at the Palazzo Isimbardi entitled “Weave, Restore, Renew” with sculptural straw raincoats) – a group of well-known brands that ventured into the world of furniture design and practice.
Stella McCartney collaborated with wallpaper experts Cole & Son to create a fabulous mushroom print for the home. Recognition: Stella McCartney
Prada – which already made furniture – went a step further and hosted a two-day multidisciplinary symposium, curated by research-based studio Formafantasma, that explored the relationship between the natural environment and design.
Fashion oriented furniture was the buzzword of the week and could also be the concept of your next home makeover.
Flowing objects and adaptable shapes
Design Week was packed with modular products and stackable home accessories, perhaps a nod to the growing demand for flexible office space.
Vases took on a new form in the Salone Satellite presentation. Recognition: Isabella Del Grandi
Los Angeles-based brand Loose Parts debuted with a brilliant presentation of modular furniture that could be assembled, disassembled and reassembled – designed in part to reduce furniture landfill and encourage reuse, while continuing with the idea of new possibilities within the same interiors.
At the Salone Satellite, Belgrade-based Marija Kojić showed modular structures for children that could serve as both a play structure and a circular workspace, while at the main fair, Japanese designer Ryosuke Fukusada designed a range of lighting with countless design possibilities.
Elsewhere, at the Rossana Orlandi Gallery – another treasure trove of great design – British designer Marc Wood also presented two collections of lamps, Zig and Deco, which could be used as individual pendants or stacked into a range of decorative and creative shapes.
rules of the craft
The future of home design could well be time-honored craftsmanship. The Fuorisalone placed a strong focus on traditional techniques and focused on handcrafted creations from international manufacturers.
Two showcases particularly shone with their craftsmanship. “RoCollectible 2022 | Designers & Crafters’ at Rossana Orlandi Gallery, which showcased the work of international creatives such as Bethan Gray and Alvaro Catalán de Ocón; and Doppia Firma, organized by the Michelangelo Foundation for Creativity and Craftsmanship in the historic Palazzo Litta, which presented a collection of pieces born through exchanges between designers or artists and artisans.
The Rossana Orlandi Gallery displayed work by various artisans. Recognition: Andrea Ceriani
From lamps made using a Ghanaian weaving technique and recycled PET plastic bottles to an armchair meticulously embroidered with vegetable leather appliques, pieces at both exhibitions embraced traditional skills from different cultures and emphasized a slower-moving approach to design.
Picture above: Flexible, modular furniture from Loose Parts.