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An Event to Remember: The 62nd Salone del Mobile

This year's spellbinding fair in Milan drew a narrative for our ever-evolving ways of living, increasingly global and in dialogue with nature.
This year's spellbinding fair in Milan drew a narrative for our ever-evolving ways of living, increasingly global and in dialogue with nature.

Every year in April, the vibrant city of Milan is flush with scenes of structured beauty and ingenuity as the best of today’s design takes over the streets, centered around the Salone del Mobile, its trade fair boasting a wide array of distinguished furnishings and products, satellite exhibitions that raise awareness of young talent, and thematic events and installations throughout the city’s districts that send visitors on a journey through the uniqueness and innovation of riveting, thought provoking design and culture, manifesting a lifestyle of experimentation, material originality, and excellence with objects and technologies that brighten our everyday lives with the luxury of comfort, convenience, and visual allure. This year, from April 16th to the 21st, Luminaire had the pleasure of attending the 62nd Salone del Mobile in Milan, doing business with and finding inspiration in prototypes and domestic spaces, including kitchens, bedrooms, bathrooms, living and dining areas, entrance corridors, service areas and outdoor spaces, that drew a narrative for our ever-evolving ways of living, increasingly global, creative, and in dialogue with nature, inclusive in scope and incomparable in emotional depth.  

The heart of the Salone rested in the Rho Fiero trade center, where innovations in contemporary design stood out to enrich the domestic scene with expressive pieces from over 1,950 exhibitors, including many Luminaire partners such as Glas ItaliaDesalto, Edra, Living Divani, MDF Italia, Porro and Sollos. Here we witnessed a tactful and refined integration of nature into interior spaces, with riveting works from the likes of Molteni, who celebrated 90 years of tradition and innovation with pieces that celebrated curves and movement, and sang a harmony of the past, present, and future, and Roda in outdoor collections that captivate with color and forge havens of serenity with clean lines and subdued comfort. Organism saw a resurgence throughout many booths at the fair; highlighting soft, fluid shapes, rounded furniture found its presence, embracing an organic feel to booths dedicated to structured modernism with a touch of the sinuous, as seen in Kartell, with curved, fully upholstered sofas and chairs, and with the flowing contours and irregular shapes of Flexform, deviating from the rigorous geometries of the past.

Appearing as a key design element among various booths at the fair was the ethereal and at times unearthly manifestation of transparency, with glass, acrylics, and other translucent materials dotting the fair with a panorama of delicacy and grace. How light travels through multiple layers of surface was explored most meticulously at Glas Italia, where celebrated designer Michael Anastassiades translated his love of light as it is manipulated through transparencies with the new Kazimir glass furniture collection, a tribute to artist Kazimir Severinovic Malevic and his geometric abstraction. Here glass panels are toyed with and strategically juxtaposed to create shelves, consoles, and small tables with a transcendent aura and sculptural aesthetic. Meanwhile, at Poltrona Frau, where imagination was celebrated as fostering the birth of fresh ideas and new perspectives with their Imagine collection, new collaborations with British designer Faye Toogood transformed furniture and interior accessories into soft, sculptural artefacts, evoking feelings of comfort and forward-thinking creativity. Cassina likewise took visitors on a voyage of discovery with novel iterations of older classics like Charlotte Perriand’s Ventaglio table in a new finish and Carlo Scarpa’s Cornaro sofa, alongside Gaetano Pesce’s Notturno a New York with additions to the Dudet, Flutz, Moncloud, and Soriana series, proclaiming a relentless dedication to transformation and ongoing evolution, holding fast to the pioneering vision and core values that reflect the fervent spirit of the company.

Further into the fair, various exhibitions put a spotlight on specific rooms in our domestic landscape, like bathrooms and kitchens in EuroCucina, where fascinating products were enhanced by state-of-the-art exhibition design from Lombardini22, who used ideas from neuroscience to elevate the visitor experience. FTK, or Technology for the Kitchen, held within the EuroCucina exhibit presented the kitchen as a place for pleasure rather than merely a service space, with the integration of technology marking a turning point with design acting as its mediator, adding a boost to functionality where it previously did not exist and modernizing the design language of space. We also caught a glimpse into the office of the future in Workplace 3.0, where more than 120 exhibiting companies looked to blend the office space in with other living spaces, giving the work place a feel more like home, flexible, porous, and ever-changing, feeling at the forefront both warm and inspired.   

Embellishing domestic spaces with unique stories of personality and verve, the International Furniture Accessories Exhibitions showcased the power of rugs, fabrics, ceramic objects, consoles, vases and wallpaper to captivate audiences and enrich the home furnishing sphere with personalized and sophisticated objects, whereas the International Bathroom Exhibition offered a boundless cosmos of compositions, furnishings, and finishes required to make this sacred space a refuge of serenity in our daily routines, focusing this year on advanced, yet somewhat invisible, technology that saves water and makes use of recyclable and circular materials to enhance sustainability and overall consumer well-being. A relatively new exhibition S.Project focused this year on design products, decorative, and technical solutions through the lens of the most significant lines of research in contemporary design, from the hybridization of contexts to the transition from singular pieces to that of a more holistic environment. Here we saw a range of new finishes from the likes of GramFratesi, Konstantic Grcic, and Piero Lissoni, in new collaborations with Alpi, where the three-dimensional potential of textures united with an iridescent rendering of sunset tones that settled in a soothing perspective of Nordic spaces for both work and home. Adding a sense of culture and sophisticated reprieve, the fair also included an installation by filmmaker David Lynch, which allowed visitors to connect with interiors both provocative and erudite, haunting in beauty and enchanting in form, while a peppering of informative conversations and talks were made available for enthralling dialogue and insights from notable architects and designers, including Luminaire favorite John Pawson.

For visitors to the 62nd Salone del Mobile, the inspired brilliance and visions for the future did not end at the Rho Fiero trade center but percolated throughout the city in a number of exhibitions, installations, and events that celebrated the transformative power of cutting-edge design and addressed contemporary conversations that shape the objects of our daily lives, stunning and insightful.  This year Milan embraced the Fuorisalone and Brera Design Week, both of whom focused on sustainability at the core of design with the Fuorisalone exhibition “material natura”, or “natural matter,” emphasizing the significance of incorporating natural material elements in design to foster a sustainable future, and with 260 events across the Brera district that concentrated on sustainability in fashion, art, and lifestyle.  Also looking forward to a more eco-conscious and innovative future was the Isola Design Week, another district involved in the events surrounding this year’s Salone, with five exhibitions that centered on circular design, craft, and material innovation. Exhibitions of note also occurred in local galleries, like “Time Traveler” at Nilufar that took visitors on a journey through time in the evolution of exceptional design, or celebrated the life and art of notable designers, as with Gaetano Pesce in the “Nice to See You” exhibition. Some installations that made waves involved partnerships with fashion brands and established institutions, as with “On the Rocks” display that featured an exhilarating collaboration between Bottega Venetta, Cassina, and the Le Corbusier Foundation, where the focus was a furniture piece that Le Corbusier designed for himself, produced by Cassina, renown for their artful skill in only the finest in carpentry, and alongside editions of the Tabouret Cabanon, introduced during Bottega Veneta’s Winter 2024 fashion show.

Overall, with an attendance of over 360,000 visitors, and an increase in growth of 17.1% over the 2023 edition, this year’s Salone del Mobile and accompanying events represented a truly unique, international affair that gave much needed visibility to well-deserving creatives, both established and up-and-coming, while facilitating the dissemination of good design throughout the residential and contract sectors, forging a path for the future of furnishing that is high in quality, durable, markedly beautiful and notably sustainable. We are pleased to have been a part of this historic event, sharing in the discoveries that made this year particularly spellbinding and distinctive.     

May 2024