Milanese whirl

Ash dominated last year’s Milan furniture fair – and it wasn’t the wood. The Icelandic volcano erupted, causing chaos for fair-goers, not so much in the Italian style capital, but when they were heading home. Planes were grounded and a gung-ho spirit set in.

Consequently, few travellers spoke about the actual fair, imbuing the event with an air of mystery. Reports suggest we might face a similar scenario this year, sans ash, with fair frequenters not anticipating much innovationin these straitened times. We shall see.

Certainly, British designers look set to have a good exhibition, offering a flurry of launches. Jasper Morrison, Matthew Hilton, Barber Osgerby and Pearson Lloyd are among the Milan regulars, joining international stars like Japan’s Naoto Fukasawa, Fabrica’s Sam Baron and Dutch designer Ineke Hans.

It also promises to be a good year for Tord Boontje, head of product and furniture at London’s Royal College of Art. Boontje has not only curated the college’s exhibition Intent, but also has his own work on show. And Swiss-born Yves Béhar has a new chair for Herman Miller.

If there is a trend emerging pre-Milan it is new collaborations between unlikely partners. Béhar’s Sayl office chair for Herman Miller and the Ahrend 380 chair by Hans are examples.

Everyone is, meanwhile, keen to see what happens in the city’s trendy Tortona district. Zona Tortona reportedly hit the skids last year, spawning Tortona Design Week – something of an unknown quantity. Watch this space.

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