There have been many attempts to try and replicate the success of Milan Design Week. And yet of all the fashionable fairs, the Salone del Mobile continues to hold sway as the world’s most important design event. Over the course of 7 jam-packed days, design, fashion and big tech meet to dream up new ways for us to work and play. In this kaleidoscope of creative worlds, palatial residences become artistic playgrounds, as the cities most exclusive buildings are opened to the public. Every year, the Chaplins Team make the pilgrimage and we don’t stop until we’ve uncovered everything the fair has to offer. Spurred on by copious espressos and one too many paninis, our Chaplins Milan Trend Report 2019 compiles all the trends and ideas you need to know.
Our homes are evolving, amorphous creations. And yet, over the past five years, our digital lives have demanded a softer approach, with texture and form taking on an increasingly important role. This year’s Salone developed this sentiment, with gentle curves a ubiquitous feature at many of the bustling stands. Whether in the form of PORADA’S Ninfea Desk or MAXALTO’S Apollo Sofa, these soft shapes never failed to draw us in, a great tip to remember when trying to design a welcoming space. Such curves were particularly noticeable on this year’s selection of designer dining tables with many asymmetric bases engaging in a Yin and Yang style embrace.
This meditative sculptrual aesthetic was reflected in the sofas at ARKETIPO, MOLTENI &C and MOROSO. Featuring generous backrests, their smooth silhouettes appeared to have been moulded by wind or water, offering a futuristic look that was deeply soothing at the same time.
In the swooping curves and organic forms, we couldn’t help but be reminded of another icon also on display at the fair. This year, B&B ITALIA‘s iconic UP LOUNGE CHAIR turned 50 and was presented in a stunning new striped upholstery and a giant sculpture erected in front of the Piazzo Duomo. Riven with arrows, the curvy feminine form revealed how, decades later, women are still under siege from sexism in society. As political now as it was then, the UP50 is a reminder for a whole new generation of men and women of the importance of the fight for equality.
Fabric-wise, it was a toss-up between the perennial velvet and 70s style Bouclé textures; a beautiful fabric whose tactile loops feed into the desire for cocooning upholstery. Similar 70s prints could also be found adorning FRITZ HANSEN’s JH97 and ZANOTTA’s Oliva Lounge Chairs, each due for release later this year, and destined to be firm favourites.
Wood as a decorative rather than structural element was another key trend and could be found adorning everything from luxury lounge chairs through to designer beds. For those who aren’t keen on florals, this is a stunning way to bring the outdoors in. We recommend checking out GALLOTTI & RADICE’S 1968 Coffee Table and PORRO’S Byron Bed for a closer look.
However, it was the selection of stunning new finishes at CASSINA that really caught our eye. Under the direction of PATRICIA URQUIOLA, their Milan showroom was transformed into one of the most exciting venues in town, each room a colourful grid that set the stage for their vibrant new catalogue. Like an artist colourizing black and white photos, she dug deep into the context of several iconic designs, reintroducing the CAB DINING CHAIR in stunning saddle leathers with the option to add a hand-painted faded gradient. The Bramante Cabinets received a similar treatment, presented in a glossy red or blue lacquer that sung 21st-century chic.
Of all the luxury sofas presented at the fair, the Dress Up was in a league of its own. Cloaked in CASSINA’S new “On Trend” velvet, it featured grosgrain stitching, importing the precision of dressmaking into the world of design. Endlessly versatile, it’s wide-angled back promises to allow for the integration of a variety of elements, from generous chaise lounges through to handy central elements.
We left feeling inspired by the vividness and sophistication of each piece, clear evidence if ever it was needed of how PATRICIA URQUIOLA as Art Director is energizing one of Italy’s most important furniture brands.
Metals with a gentler aspect could be found throughout the fair, with champagne hues and satin finishes replacing some of the brighter tones that were forecasted at the start of this year. Fiam, in particular, revealed the majority of their new collection with burnished bases, with Cattelan Italia also showcasing some stunning new sideboards in titanium or frosted bronze glass. We also fell in love with the handcrafted Alchemie light from Catellani & Smith, which consisted of two discs in brass and alabaster that mimicked the drama of a solar eclipse.
Growing awareness of the Circular Economy meant that upcycling was used to great effect. GAN’s Nuances Rug and Pouf by PATRICIA URQUIOLA broke new ground by collecting discarded fabric cut-offs and merging them together to create a stunning felt with a terrazzo-like finish. Transgressive yet beautiful, the wow factor lies in the optical illusion, in the expectation of a flinty surface which, upon touch, reveals itself as a gentle, tactile upholstery.
The focus on customisable lighting that can rise or fall within a space represented another interesting development. FLOS’ Wireline and Belt collections both featured adjustable suspension systems in a move that celebrates rather than rejects the use of wires and cables. Connection and customisation was also evident in MICHAEL ANASTASSIADES hotly anticipated My Circuits series, which features curvilinear forms that can be arranged to create unique circuits of light
In many respects, Milan Design Week 2019 was one of the most innovative yet. The need for sustainability in manufacturing led to an explosion of experimentation in both fabric and textile technology, with the overriding aim to create a home that looks and feels good. At Chaplins, we consider it an honour to be able to introduce these designs to a UK audience and have already begun adding some of the new releases to our online store. For the full report, head over to our blog or contact email@example.com for more information.
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