Forget fashion and football: Furniture is where it’s at next week as Milan gears up for the annual salone. This year’s event at the Milan fairground encompasses four specialist shows, the largest of which is the Salone Internazionale del Mobile with 1350 exhibitors. Alongside this, organisers Cosmit have again put on two specialist exhibitions charting the careers of major designers. This year’s subjects are Gio Ponti and Vico Magistretti; last year it was Joe Colombo and Achille Castiglione.
British design seems to be the latest buzzword in Italy, as confirmed by the host of new designs this year by James Irvine, Jasper Morrison, Matthew Hilton et al. But it is the major players who will dominate the fiera with the likes of Kartell, Moroso and Zanotta all taking large stands in Hall 20.
The new Ron Arad chair (see First Sight) will undoubtedly be a big draw on the Kartell stand, alongside Magistretti’s Maui chair, now in production, and new seating by Antonio Citterio. Also in this hall are Palucco Italia with new designs from its Zed Team, and a lamp by Marc Sadler. Montis shows three new seating designs by Gijs Papavoine and Soho, a selection of low units/coffee tables by Arnold Merckx. And XO launches Cheap Chic, a stacking chair by Philippe Starck. Designed for indoor and outdoor use, it is a one-piece moulded poly urethane shell available in five colours including translucent white. Starck’s Monsieur X folding table, which complements the fold-up chair collection shown last year, can also be seen at XO.
From the UK, SCP introduces a wealth of new products. Matthew Hilton has designed the Press Hound, a sidetable-cum-bookcase in slim aluminium. Available in a white or silver-coated finish, this multi-purpose unit accommodates both coffee cups and oversized paperbacks. Also from Hilton are a new armchair which is a sculptural reinterpretation of the stately high-back winged chair, and a solid oak extending dining table which can seat from six to 14 people. From Terence Woodgate is a new modular upholstered sofa system and new wall-mounted and low versions of his shelving system. All this, plus designs by Michael Marriott, Konstantin Grcic and new boy Michael Stafford.
Aero will also be at Milan, bringing an extending shelf system and a new extending coffee table, both by Nazanin Kamali. The table is a straightforward yet clever design in 35mm thick beech veneer, and extends to hold either the coffee cups or the television. Similarly, storage space below can accommodate either magazines or a video player. Also on show is the Billmore range of tables by Andrew Morton and a new beech dish rack, again by Nazanin Kamali.
From Italy, Edra Mazzei will show a colourful selection of products, notably Neolitico, a table range available in 64 colours and three types of wood. The solid aluminium base supports an irregularly shaped top which can be combined with square or rectangular versions to form a unit. Also on show will be the famous Bocci or “lips” sofa which Edra has now acquired the license to manufacture. This classic pop design was created in the Sixties by Studio 65 for Gufram – and is definitely best in red.
Ycami will once again be taking the special exhibition hall at the top of Hall 4 where an extensive range of products will be shown, including new units from the Velasca range, with doors and open shelves. One floor down, Segis will be presenting two new chair designs by Carlo Bartoli and Carlo Bimbi and two small sofas by Castiglia Associati.
Also worth a look is Parri A. & Co in Hall 19, which is launching a new chair/armchair by Marco Maran. Chiacchiera (meaning chatterbox) has a moulded polypropylene shell in seven colours; a versatile, stackable little chair, suitable for internal or external use, which is also available on a swivel base and beam.
In the city centre, Ron Arad shows his latest designs alongside lighting from Ingo Maurer. At the Driade showroom on the Via Manzoni, five new pieces by Matthew Hilton are promised, including the elliptical Gemini sofa with its steel legs and loose cotton covers, plus the polypropylene Blue Bell chair by Ross Lovegrove and a new side board by Antonia Astori. Designs by Hilton also make an appearance across the road at Sawaya and Moroni alongside those by Antonio Citterio, Terry Dwan, Zaha Hadid and William Sawaya.
Meanwhile, around the corner on the Via Montenapoleone, Cappellini shows the Fronzoni collection, designed by AG Fronzoni in 1964. The minimalist Sixties designs of Fronzoni, better known as a graphic designer, are now back in favour, and his tables and chairs have been specified by John Pawson for the Calvin Klein shop in New York. Also at
Cappellini are a wooden bed by Jasper Morrison, the carbon fibre Knotted Chair by Marcel Wanders and cabinets by Piero Lissoni.
In terms of furniture, Milan is as exciting as ever, and if you fancy a few days in the sunshine it is worth making the trip. If you get tired of the fairground, a wander around the city centre showrooms can be a delight. And you may even find AC Milan or Inter Milan are playing at home next weekend.