Under cloudless, vivid blue skies and with unseasonably warm temperatures, Milan came alive with the buzz of throngs of visitors who descended upon the northern Italian city for the annual Salone del Mobile furniture fair. For its 57th edition, crowds flowed throughout the city and to the nearby fairgrounds, turning the medieval web of streets into a roiling and barely navigable series of exhibitions and events bursting with a sense of palpable creativity.
Making the journey for over 40 years, Luminaire explores both the massive furniture fair and the numerous off-site events throughout the city at both showrooms and design districts such as Brera, Zona Tortona, and Lambrate. Here, we unite with our long-time partners and collaborators as well as acquaint ourselves with new designers and manufacturers.
Our first adventure prior to the official start of the design week was to explore the opening of Henry Timi’s exhibit “Material Minimalism” which took place at the Basilica di San Marco. Inside the 13th century building, Timi imbued the ornate environment with this poetic minimalism. Unveiled that evening was Timi’s commissioned altar which consisted of a pure, cylindrical form cast in solid bronze featuring a textural surface recalling the craters of the moon. The captivating juxtaposition of Timi’s clean lines with the baroque stylings of the basilica created a magical experience.
As is our tradition, Monday morning during design week is spent visiting Interni Magazine’s exhibition at the Università degli Studi di Milano. This year, the theme was House in Motion which featured a series of experimental and interactive installations of architecture and design exploring two areas of design deeply impacted by the evolution of lifestyles at the center of the research: residence and mobility.
The rest of the day was spent visiting showrooms in the city. New designs at B&B Italia from Naoto Fukasawa, Michael Anastassiades, Piero Lissoni, and Antonio Citterio were highlights of their showroom and further added to the illustrious history of the storied Italian brand. Next door, in Cassina’s recently renovated showroom, new designs from Patricia Urquiola, Anastassiades, and others were unveiled to the press along with reintroductions of historic designs by Le Corbusier and Gerrit Rietveld. Within the refreshed space, the vision of creative director Patricia Urquiola continued to expand, enlivening the historic Italian design company with a fresh design proposition.
Throughout the week at the fairgrounds, we visited stands from our partners and new companies alike to experience each brand’s latest offerings. Longtime Luminaire partner Living Divani presented a new collection of furniture that captured the brand’s signature minimalist approach to design with a new sofa collection, Floyd, by Piero Lissoni while looking to the future with new pieces from emerging designers like Keiji Takeuchi and Junpei & Iori Tamaki. Of note were Takeuchi’s sculptural and meditative Clivio daybed and Junpei & Iori Tamaki’s Rivulet chair and Tonbo coatrack.
At Porro next-door, new projects exploring rhythm, shape, and color were presented inside a Piero Lissoni-designed stand that featured a suspended glass perimeter resembling a giant display box. There, new products and expanded systems by Gabriele and Oscar Buratti, GamFratesi, Piero Lissoni, Carlo Tamborini were presented with each showcasing the Italian brands sensitivity to proportion and material excellence.
A surprising stand within the crowded fair was USM. Rather than introduce any new pieces, the modular German furniture brand instead partnered with renewed architecture practice UNstudio to create an immersive structure made entirely out of USM components. Within the highly graphic metal cage were four rooms – an office, dining room, bedroom, and bathroom. In each, a question is posed to visitors that they could answer in creative ways. In the office, on old typewriters, on menus in the dining room and in the bathroom by writing on the walls.
Within the city, highlights included our visit to Davide Groppi’s showroom where his poetic explorations of lighting resulted in captivating designs for both the home and office. His unending creativity showed through in his creative lighting designs. Also, another highlight was found at the Triennale Design Museum where a retrospective on Elio Martinelli and his lighting design company Martinelli Luce was presented. Honoring the 50th anniversary of the Cobra lamp by Martinelli, a monographic exhibition on his lamp designs retraced the creative moments that brought both his and Martinelli Luce’s names to the attention of the design world.
Throughout the countless displays we encountered, reoccurring themes began to present themselves. In many pieces, a sense of luxury was expressed through bespoke materiality and expressive finishing. Whether in polished marble that featured strong veining or through unique uses of wood, many pieces spoke to a consumer in search of unmistakable luxury. Another direction materiality took was through sustainable practices. At Kartell, the company developed an interesting bioplastic material and exploited its possibilities with creative new designs.
All in all, this breathtaking combination of events, shows, and fairs provided an opportunity to reflect on design, industry, creativity, and culture. We invite you to take a visual tour through our daily slideshows of the 2018 Salone.