Show report: Salone Internazionale del Mobile 2006, Milan

The highly anticipated 45th Salone Internazionale del Mobile took place last month from 5-10th April at ‘Fieramilano’ — a brand new hi-tech arena in Milan, designed by architect Massimiliano Fuksas. The striking venue, with 16 glass pavilions arranged in a mile long promenade under an immense undulating glass canopy, hosted over 2,500 furniture manufacturers and 200,000 international visitors over the six-day event.

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By  Charlotte Butterfield Published  May 7, 2006

The highly anticipated 45th Salone Internazionale del Mobile took place last month from 5-10th April at ‘Fieramilano’ — a brand new hi-tech arena in Milan, designed by architect Massimiliano Fuksas. The striking venue, with 16 glass pavilions arranged in a mile long promenade under an immense undulating glass canopy, hosted over 2,500 furniture manufacturers and 200,000 international visitors over the six-day event. Over 300 product debuts took place as exhibitors flocked to the prestigious design fair to present their visions of the future. In terms of furniture design; decadence and sensory pleasure appeared as two key features. Italian company, Moroso, presented the ‘Antibodi’ chair by Patricia Urquiola — a metal frame dressed in expressionist ‘petals’ of padded and stitched felt, leather and wool. The materials, in richly contrasting colours aim to provide sensory, luxurious comfort. Also by Moroso was ‘Raw’ by Polish designer Tomek Rygalik, made from a single piece of leather. Kartell launched the ‘Pop’ chair by Piero Lissoni, made of a clear polycarbonate frame with spongy flower printed cushions. Vitra, usually known for its office furniture, showcased home ware pieces such as the ‘Slow chair’ by the Bouroullec brothers. A highly innovative launch came from Emeco. The ‘Icon’ chair designed by internationally renowned Philippe Starck is hand-made from 100% aluminium, with an estimated lifespan of 150 years and has a lifetime guarantee. “The new design is balanced, minimal and coherent; there is serenity. I have used a recycled material and transformed it into something that never needs to be discarded — a tireless and unbreakable chair to use and enjoy for a lifetime. It is a chair you never own, you just use it for a while until it is the next persons turn. A great chair should never have to be recycled. This is considerate of nature and mankind,” says Starck. Technological research played an underlying role in many new launches. Ultra durable and performing plastics were revealed, such as in the ‘Vad chair’ by Luca Nichetto for Casamania by Frezza, stamped in Polygiene, a new automatically disinfecting and recyclable material. Running concurrently to the furniture displays were events geared towards dedicated sectors. Eimu.2006 Wellness@Work was the major showcase for office furniture and accessories. 151 exhibitors took part in the event, which this year focused on the idea of ‘well-being in the office’. Designers placed the emphasis back on to people and their surroundings in a belief that quality of life is enhanced by a pleasant working environment. A panel of industry experts co-ordinated by architect Aldo Colonetti judged the products. Three exhibitors were selected as winners under separate categories: the winner of the ‘New’ category was ‘Methis Divisione Arredamento Ufficio di Coopsette Scarl’ for its laminated ceramic version of the Evo Executive wall, by Centro Studi Methis. This innovative design is an absolute first on the international market, both for its performance on the technology front, particularly in terms of eco-compatibility, and for the flexibility and variety it offers designers. ‘Della Valentina Office Spa’ won in the ‘Integrating technology and function’ category, for its Entity line, by Antonio Morello. Close attention was paid to the user, as well as installation, maintenance and flexibility in incorporating technology. The prize in the ‘Workplace settings’ category was awarded to Ares Line Srl for the Première modular auditorium seating system, designed by Pininfarina. The functionality, safety, maintenance, hygiene and comfort of the design impressed the judges. Kitchen design was also a key focus. 141 exhibitors took part in Eurocucina. Designers at this year’s event were charged with the task of striking a balance between innovation and tradition. Style trends appear to have made an undisputed return to the original concept of the kitchen as a warm and inviting living space. A place where, according to Francesco Morace, guru of market trends and social research, “beauty meets functionality and technology meets social habits.” The challenge was to create a domestic haven, despite the hyper-technological components of the modern kitchen. Hi-tech features were less invasive, with softer designs playing down the severe mechanical appearance of ovens, dishwashers and refrigerators. Natural materials appeared popular with designers, including every type of wood from ebony, through to elm, cedar and oak. Minotti Cucine presented ‘Terra’ designed by Claudio Silvestrin in stone — a sleek, rigorous design where no technological components are left exposed. ‘G.Box’, from Emporium Collezioni by Scavolini designed by Giuliano Giaroli, proposed an innovative use of natural materials involving white Carrara marble with carbon fibre and bamboo for the counter. Snaidero unveiled a highly exciting and innovative product in its design of ‘Venus’ by Pininfarino. The brilliant coral red steel counter tops have a new “microtouch” finish in microfibre, treated to achieve a ‘leather’ effect — an entirely new concept in kitchen design. So what are the trends of the future? Whether at home or in the office, well being was a common feature that designers appeared keen to concentrate on, prizing comfort, ergonomics and functionality over all else. Minimalism appears to be an idea of the past, “Minimalism is being done by Ikea. You can’t compete with them — you must find another direction,” says William Sawaya of Sawaya & Moroni. The style of tomorrow will be warm, decadent and cosy, with spaces designed to be refuges, reflecting the personality of their inhabitants.

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