As must-do events for designers and trend-spotters go, Milan’s Salone del Mobile is top of the list. Now 56 years old, it continues to attract big names and huge crowds, welcoming 2,000 exhibitors to its 200,000m2 of exhibition space this year, along with 340,000 visitors from 165 countries.
Trend-Monitor was there too, and we scoured the stands to bring you the key trends from the 2017 show.
Furniture Trend #1: Design for Decadent Times
Pantone’s colour of the year for 2017 is Greenery, so we were surprised to see little evidence of it among the wares on display. There was plenty of green on offer though: Greenery’s zesty tones were eclipsed by a deeper, richer shade that serves as a luxurious antidote to the austere climate in which we find ourselves.
Mastering the opulent spirit was Lili Castilla’s asymmetrical Illusion sofa for Roche Bobois. It’s a sophisticated green velvet piece with an integrated smoked oak table – perfect for resting a glass of fizz.
Spanish artist-cum-designer Jaime Hayón adopted a similar shade of dark green for his Milà table for Magis, inspired by the façade of Gaudí’s modernist Casa Battlò in Barcelona. With its angular steel frame and die-cast detailing, Milà is a smart but versatile choice as it’s available with a choice of tops and in various sizes.
Furniture Trend #2: All that Glitters
At first glance, Salone del Mobile’s metallic offerings seemed rather dated. After all, the use of gold, brass, bronze and copper is nothing new. But a second look revealed that the new crop of designs dare to be different. For example, take German brand e15, which explored the interplay of solid wood and metal with Trunk II, a 4100mm-long European walnut table top that supports a sculptural base manufactured from solid polished brass.
Other manufacturers used metallic finishes to bring classic designs up to date. Piergiorgio Cazzaniga’s Sign chair for MDF Italia has adopted a new attitude to celebrate its 10th anniversary. Still made from 45 metres of steel wire in four different diameters to create its distinctive structure, Sign Filo is available in a glossy galvanic finish in black chrome, gold and pink gold.
Furniture Trend #3: Pretty in Pink
The next trend on the agenda is one we predicted. Pantone calls it Pale Dogwood, others call it Millennial Pink; either way, it was hard to miss at Salone del Mobile where this soft and friendly colour – somewhere between beige and blush – was as popular as we thought it would be.
A striking example was the Isla sofa for Spanish brand Sancal from Stockholm-based Note Design Studio.
Equally eye-catching was Normann Copenhagen with Britt Bonnesen’s Pavilion, which is made from soft bamboo silk and features broad stripes in bold colour combinations such as blush and dark green.
Fashion brand Diesel Living continued its successful collaboration with Moroso to create the Assembly sofa, which is available as a love seat or occasional chair. Pink has long shed its reputation for being girly, but just to make sure, the designers used prominent steel bolts as a counterpoint to the pink velvet.
Furniture Trend #4: Seek to Socialise
The latest sofas are designed for socialising rather than sitting in a straight line watching the box. This translates to sectional elements that can be moved to create a more convivial setup.
Top picks at Salone del Mobile included Maurizio Manzoni’s super-sized Octet sofa for Roche Bobois, and Piero Lissoni’s equally expansive Mosaïque sofa for de Padova.
Poltrona Frau used Salone del Mobile as an opportunity to update its iconic Chester sofa for more casual social settings. Chester Line maintains the elegance of its deep-buttoned, leather-clad predecessor but acknowledges contemporary ways of living. Thus, it’s broken down into a series of five elements that allow you create different configurations.
Similarly, Piero Lissoni responded to users’ wishes for convenience and sociability when designing his Avio sofa for Knoll. A large irregular end or corner element has been introduced that alters Avio’s pure line, suggesting a more relaxed atmosphere.
Furniture Trend #5: Getting Grounded
Those who prefer muted colours to bold ones will welcome the news that terracotta is back in the spotlight. Both warming and calming, terracotta is versatile and can be used for small and large pieces.
It proved popular with exhibitors at Salone del Mobile. Arper, for example, embraced its terracotta side in its Arcos easy chair, which it describes as “a restrained interpretation of Art Deco’s geometric glamour.” The signature cast aluminium armrests that form twin curves also evoke the elegant archways of classical architecture.
Minotti also featured terracotta via a refresh of the sculptural base of Rodolfo Dordoni’s popular Van Dyck table. This is now available as an outdoor version and can be teamed with the Aston Cord outdoor chair, the painted metal frame of which is specially treated for exterior use, as are the padded waterproof cushions.
Even fledgling brands are getting in on the terracotta act. At SaloneSatellite – the emerging design section of Salone del Mobile – Jonathan Sabine and Jessica Nakanishi (the duo behind Canadian label MSDS Studio) used it as the base for their minimalist office furniture collection.
Furniture Trend #6: Earth-friendly Design
Design used to come at a price but times are changing: manufacturers are starting to use innovative materials to lower the environmental impact of furniture and furnishings. Leading the way at Salone del Mobile was Finnish furniture company Woodnotes, which launched its San Francisco carpet collection. The carpets are made from yarn that’s been spun from durable heavyweight paper and can be recycled or burned to produce energy.
San Francisco is also biodegradable: its white paper is produced without the use of chlorine gas, and the dyes used to colour the yarn contain no halogen-organic compounds or heavy metals.
Emerging in response to the urgent global issue of waste, Kvadrat has teamed up with British designer Max Lamb and start-up Really to upcycle end-of-life textiles into new materials for design and architecture. The first collection, Solid Textile Board, is an engineered board made from end-of-life cotton and wool textiles sourced from fashion, industry, households and Kvadrat cut offs.
Kvadrat CEO Anders Byriel explains: “We see Really as a first step on a circular journey that will help us fast track to a time when industrially manufactured products will be made – and remade – from old versions of themselves; to a time when, hopefully only years away, we look back at this as the moment when we realised we can’t afford to waste waste.”