The Italian job

Sara Manuelli reveals what to expect at this year’s Milan Furniture Fair, and previews projects by Nicholas Grimshaw & Partners and Ron Arad Associates

The fashionable Milan Furniture Fair is being more secretive than ever this year, with most Italian manufacturers keeping their products under wraps until the official opening on 11 April. On this side of the channel, many UK designers are still struggling to get the pieces manufactured in time, so access to a sneak preview – let alone a photograph or the name of the product – is something of a challenge.

However, still at embryonic phase, here’s a tantalizing glimpse of what is to come at the Salone del Mobile, with a few names and events worth noting in the must-see category. The Brits are out in force again, maintaining a healthy design grip on the international manufacturing scene. Jasper Morrison has created three new sleek products for Magis, while rising star Michael Young, now based in Iceland, has designed three air-moulded plastic pieces for the Italian manufacturer.

Cappellini is showing its 2000 collection at the Superstudiopiu’ gallery in Via Tortona 27, in the grounds of a former General Electric factory, from 10 April. Work on display will include Morrison’s seating system, designed for Tate Modern in London, architect Claudio Silvestrin’s Millennium Hope Table, a 3m-long piece formed from five walnut veneered planks, and again Young with a chair and chaise longue. Cassina’s range remains undisclosed apart from what was previewed at Cologne, and as usual the showroom will be worth a visit.

London-based furniture manufacturer and retailer SCP will present a quintet of excellent names at the main fair. Designs commissioned by Sheridan Coakley are a sofa/ occasional bed by Sir Robin Day with wooden white lacquered frame, upholstered base and stainless steel legs; Andrew Stafford’s table/ desk with a leather top and stainless legs; Rachel Whiteread’s Day Bed, designed for the Please Touch exhibition last autumn and now modified as a production version; Michael Marriott’s Croquet shelving system showing in a new colour range; and Matthew Hilton’s new modular sofa, an asymmetrical curved system comprising a two- and a three-seat version. Hilton has also designed a bespoke club type chair for Grosvenor Estates with foot stool and coffee table.

Anglo-Spanish design duo King Miranda will be presenting the Diogenes light for Belux at Euroluce and a new chair called Lisa for Baleri Italia. Always at Euroluce, Italian lamp giant Flos is launching Twoo, a table lamp designed by Stefano Giovannoni, and the architectural lighting range comprising designs by Antonio Citterio with Oliver Löw and Konstantin Grcic, first seen at Frankfurt Light+Building Fair.

Italian company Driade has signed up architects David Chipperfield and Kazuyo Sejima for the new Aleph 2000 range, while established designers Enzo Mari, Antonia Astori, Borek Sipek and Oscar Tusquest have all created new products for Aleph and the Follies tableware range. All Driade ranges can be seen both at the fair and at its showroom in Via Manzoni 30.

The prolific Ron Arad will be presenting the Victoria & Albert seating collection in the Moroso showroom of Via Pontaccio 8, a crystal compact disc shelving system for Fiam Italia and the H shelving system for Kartell inside the fair, as well as new versions of the New Orleans chair and his range of rapid prototyping vases and lights at the Galleria Gio Marconi in Via Tadino 15.

From 10 to 16 April at the Fondazione Metropolitan, formerly the church of San Paolo Converso, Sottsass & Associati will be showing Monitor Laminates, a travelling exhibition of eight furniture pieces made from a new computer-generated laminate material and designed by names such as Richard Hutten of Droog Design, Marco Zanini and, of course, Ettore Sottsass. From 11 April, at the Memphis Gallery, Post Design, in Via della Moscova 27, the Italian master will also be showing Mobili Lunghi, a new collection of 12 tall pieces of furniture, made in wood and laminate.

Scandinavian design will be confidently represented by star architect and designer Thomas Sandell, who has designed a range of bedroom furniture for Mobileffe and lights for Tronconi at Euroluce. Outside the fair, arguably where the most exciting design is shown, Swecode in Via Montenapoleone 16 will be exhibiting on 16 April the latest projects of Beban Nord, Bjorn Dahlstrom, Marc Newson and Sandell.

Salone Satellite in Pavilion 9 will be another great place to spot up-and-coming designers such as the graduates from Kingston University and about 300 designers from 19 international schools. Finally, the prestigious Rotonda della Bersana venue will host from 11 April Rooms and Secrets, an exhibition curated by Achille Bonito Oliva in which artists such as Yoko Ono, Peter Greenaway and Emir Kustarica interpret the home as a metaphor, providing the ultimate appointment for all design cognoscenti.

The exhibition is sponsored by Floss and Materialise and opens on 12 April, Galleria Gio Marconi, Via Tadino 15, Milan. Interactive display is by Geoff Crowther and Tomato

A preview of projects by Nicholas Grimshaw & Partners and Ron Arad Associates:

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A brief look at some of the exhibits:

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