The biggest furniture fair of the year takes place this month. Here are some of the launches and events we're looking forward to
In 1974, Alessandro Mendini set fire to a chair for the cover of Casabella magazine. Our current issue examines the radicalism of this era of Italian design and, in the lead-up to the Salone del Mobile (12-17 April), asks whether Milan’s design sector is trying to reclaim some of that spirit. Icon will be at the fair to find out, so follow us on Twitter and Instagram for live updates. Below, are some of the launches and events we’re looking forward to.
My Wing from Our Universe project, prototype by Carlo Ratti for the Triennale
Not far from the fairground, the renowned Triennale Exhibition is returning to the city after a 20-year hiatus. Referencing the famed 1972 New York exhibition Italy: The New Domestic Landscape, through which Italian design arguably entered the global consciousness, the exhibition is an attempt to reassert Milan’s dominance as the centre of the design world. It will showcase contemporary designers, as well as those from the city’s radical heyday.
The cover of our latest issue features a glimpse of Fabio Novembre’s display at the Triennale, as well as articles by Pete Collard and Tim Abrahams examining Italian design’s most radical era and current efforts to recapture that spirit
‘Multi-functionality’ is a common refrain in design today, as the boundaries between home and work, formal and informal, and different domestic spaces blur. It’s at the heart of this set of furniture by American architect David Rockwell for Stellar Works, which includes a standing mirror with a shelf, coat-rack, hook and shoe-rack, and a bar cart (above) that ‘facilitates the transition from day to night’.
The Italian mosaic brand is celebrating its 60th anniversary this year, and has established a robust reputation over the past few decades through collaborations with high-profile designers and a series of exhibitions and installations at its museum and headquarters in Veneto. At Salone, it will present a new pattern by Belgian practice Studio Job (above), which references the industrial revolution, as well as recent launches, such as Tom Dixon’s London-inspired cement tiles.
The design duo and Italian brand Mutina are launching two new collections of tiles for indoor and outdoor use. Puzzle is an experiment in simple geometric forms that can be fitted together to create many different looks, while Mistral (above) is a three-dimensional tile that can be used to build walls or sunscreens with a sculptural quality.
A preview in Milan last year
The traditional porcelain industry in the Japanese town of Arita is marking its 400th anniversary this year with a series of collaborations with global names, in an effort to secure its future. On display in Milan will be the results of a collaboration between 10 potteries and 16 international designers, including Scholten & Baijings, Tomas Alonso and Studio Wieki Somers.
Two British names as ubiquitous as each other seem to compete each year over the elaborate presentation of their wares at design fairs. In Milan this year, Broom will unveil his new lighting collection, a striped monochrome range inspired by 1980s fashion (above), in an installation inside a delivery van, which will pitch up in various spots around the city next week. Aside from his kitchen design installation for quartz manufacturer Caesarstone, Tom Dixon’s will also present a collection of three different design, each of which explores a new manufacturing technique.
Following the success of its jewellery and accessories line, the crystal maker is continuing its drive to become known for quality design, as well as for luxury goods with the launch of a new home accessories brand during Salone. Designs by such luminaries as Daniel Libeskind, Ron Arad, Tord Boontje and Raw Edges (above) will be made in a mix of materials – marble, metals, resins, as well as, of course, crystal.
Antwerp-based brand Valerie Objects is relatively new but has already developed a distinct, fresh aesthetic. Among its Milan launches will be its latest collaborations – a set of chairs (above) and tables by Muller van Severen that explore different way of colouring and treating metal surfaces, and a collection of folding tables and chairs that its designers Robbrecht and Daem describe at ‘micro-architecture’.
Gherpe lamp by Superstudio, 1968
Centro Studi Poltronova was set up in 2005, to keep alive the work of the original Poltronova Company, which was responsible for many of the Italian design masters of the last century, from Ettore Sottsass to Archizoom to Superstudio. As well as an immersive exhibition of these designs, it will launch re-editions of the 1968 Sofo seating system by Superstudio.
The brand will launch six new products during Salone. Among these are Philippe Malouin’s Bookmatch table, his first design for the brand – a simply constructed structure made of imperfect veneer boards. It will also launch a set of metal stools by Max Lamb (above), which are hand-splattered with enamel to make sure no two are the same.
Icon editorial team
Above: Alessandro Mendini, destruction of Lassù chair,