In our latest issue, we look at Milan's Salone del Mobile, and ask whether the city's design industry is trying to reclaim its radical past
No less than the boss of Ikea recently announced that the world, the western one at least, had reached ‘peak home furnishings’. OK, so in the grand scheme of things an over-furnished lounge is nowhere near as apocalyptic as the idea of reaching ‘Peak Oil’. I mean, no one is likely to bomb around a desert in a death machine made of scrap metal dressed like a Burning Man reject because they couldn’t get their hands on a Billy bookcase.
But given our cluttered lives and the ecological ramifications of unbridled consumer culture, it is hardly surprising that some of us in the design world have a mildly troubled relationship with the Milan Furniture Fair. If you have ever wandered the Fieramilano’s cavernous halls filled with stuff, mainly chairs, it is pretty much guaranteed you will experience a ‘who buys this crap?’ moment. In these circumstances, it is easy to forget just how influential Italian design has been and, historically, the Salone has been pivotal to this.
Yet, after 55 years it still has the capacity to engage. This year heralds the return of the Triennale as an exhibition. Though very much framed by 1972’s seminal Italy: The New Domestic Landscape in New York, even down to its name, Rooms: Novel Living Concepts, it feels like Milan is making a genuine attempt to set the agenda again. All will be revealed come April, but for now Icon tantilises you with a striking cover image from the upcoming exhibition courtesy of Fabio Novembre.
IN THIS ISSUE
Kit Colourful fashion from Milan, blocky bags from Hong Kong, perforated-screen watches from Sweden, discreet speakers from France and Nendo’s delicious obsession
Home A curated and growing collection of contemporary Chinese design and a look forward to Bisazza’s upcoming Milan launch
Transport Untitled Motorcycles’ ode to the classic Ducati, Calatrava’s head-spinning rail hub for New York and Düsseldorf’s artsy new underground line
Destination MVRDV’s rock museum in Roskilde, Copenhagen’s newest dining destination, Sydney’s charmingly idiosyncratic Old Clare Hotel, South Melbourne’s muted wine bar and Milan’s creative Chinatown
#brutalism Douglas Murphy on how the style’s new-found popularity glosses over its original intentions
Residential Pencil Office’s Hut House settles into Singapore’s lush landscape
Residential Jonathan Tuckey’s translucent Yard House in south London
Retail Aesop’s retro Milan store in ‘baked bean’ teal by Dimorestudio
Office Architectkidd designs a tubey office for a Bangkok TV station
Retail A no-smartphone bookshop in London by SelgasCano
Public Herzog and de Meuron’s contemporary School of Government saunters onto Oxford’s classical cityscape
Q&A Jacques Herzog on his design approach, the Tate extension and architects’ social responsibilities
Icon The Torre Velasca, a top-heavy symbol of Milan’s naughty streak
New models in living Tim Abrahams on how Milan is turning back to the 1970s to find its forward-looking radical edge
Opinion Will Italian design become heritage, asks Pete Collard?
Furniture David Rockwell’s Valet range for Stellar Works
Lighting Lee Broom’s understated Optical lights
Lighting Tom Dixon escapes the tyranny of copper
Bathroom André Fu unveils his first consumer bathroom collection
Kitchen Japan’s Arita porcelain turns 400 with Nobu
Q&A Walter Van Beirendonck: from high fashion to Ikea
Icon The weird, wonderful story of the Jacuzzi
Ideas Starbucks goes to Italy
Rethink Kebab-shop chic