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With over 200,000 visitors worldwide, Milan’s design week is the largest international fair on the planet. Now in its 58th edition, it showcases the world’s most talented designers and companies who use this beautiful city as a canvas for their finest work. And 2019 was no exception.
Our first day saw us tackling the beast that is Salone Del Mobile, the furniture exhibition staged at the halls of rho fiera. The fair rotates its focus each year between EuroCucina (kitchen) and Euroluce (lighting) and this year was the latter. Brands – large and small – were out in force this year, with a plethora of vibrant colour, daring texture combinations and interesting trends. Instantly, this brings us to our first major observation for 2019, colour! Following the continued wave of monochromatic minimalism, the extrovert rebellion thrives in Milan. Bold colours, in particular oranges, pinks and rich jewel tones, continue to inspire maximalist interior design.
A particularly inspiring brand showcase at Salone was Kartell, which celebrated its 70th anniversary with a huge stand featuring multiple room sets acting as a virtual timeline through the most iconic designs of years past. From soft pastels and chintzy floral prints to the memorable Moschino teddy bear collaboration, the stand was like a museum of wonders.
Other standout brands at the fair include Sawaya & Moroni, international furniture design brand, who had a vibrant display uniquely shaped chairs – and Adrenalina – Italian furniture design team who created a truly wonderous stand, welcoming visitors on a galactic space adventure. Showcasing their collection of multi-tonal, chunky curved furniture made a real statement. This brings to light another trend to note: curves. Lights and furniture seemed to favour a softer, retro feel compared with more contemporary angles.
Outside of the fair, we visited the key design districts to see the much-anticipated installations – Brera and Tortona host the biggest brands in the design world. Moooi had taken over a beautiful Italian villa (notably Wallpaper’s Handmade exhibition location from 2018). “A Life Extraordinary” showcased the dark sophistication that defines the brand. A standout piece was the world's first singing chandelier and, of course, the new wallcoverings that featured beautiful, sumptuous textures. The products were, as ever, stunning, but the location perhaps lacked the mood and atmosphere of previous years.
Marc Ange has stolen the headlines in previous years, so we anticipated great things when we attended the independent showcase set inside incredible Palazzo Cusani, a historic 17th century palace. “An Extraordinary World” featured a multifaceted experiential journey inside the designer's universe and the famed “Le Refuge” daybed was accounted for. For us it didn’t quite pack the punch of previous years, but still worth seeing.
Sony’s immersive exhibition explored the relationship between humans and technology. Titled “Affinity in Autonomy”, it sought to highlight how technology can enrich our day-to-day lifestyle by creating emotional bonds between humans and robotics. Another technology highlight was the Ikea x Sonos collaboration, showcased in Tortona with singing cabinets and a party atmosphere to rival any. The Symfonisk range comprises a table lamp with built-in wireless speaker and a streaming bookshelf speaker; it will surely be a resounding success.
Another trend at this year’s #mdw2019 was the fusion of fashion and interiors. Being one of the fashion capitals of the world, it was only right that Italian fashion house Fendi showed off its furniture collection. Partnering with world-renowned architect and interior designer, Cristina Celestino, the brand transformed its Via Solari outpost into a classic Roman home, complete with a terrace and terracotta flooring.
Last but not least, and in our books, the winners of the most Instagrammable showcase, was the spectacular launch from Gucci. Taking over a two-storey apartment, Gucci created a pop-up boutique, adorned with the brand's signature patterns and prints - imagined by Gucci's creative director Alessandro Michele. And, just like its fashion counterpart, Louis Vuitton launched new pieces to its statement “Objets Nomades”, where two new design studios - Atelier Biagetti and Zanellato/Bortotto - were welcomed to the brand’s renowned home collection.
It also seems prudent to mention Tom Dixon’s new restaurant launch at the Manzoni restaurant in Milan. Was it stunning? Yes. Was it worth the hype? Probably. Will we ever go back? Not likely, cost and reservations considered.