Milan’s creativity is one of its distinctive traits and this 2021 the Milan Design Week came back after an 18 month break with a beautiful display. From sensorial live exhibitions to the launch of new furniture collections, discover my highlights of this year’s edition of the Milan Design week and Salone del Mobile 2021!
For architecture and design lovers, the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II is a must-see as one of the oldest and most luxurious shopping centres in the world, occupying an ornate glass-roofed double arcade in central Milan.
The Salone Internazionale del Mobile is the largest and most important furniture fair held annually in Milan, showcasing the latest in furniture and design from countries around the world. The Milan furniture fair, dubbed ‘Supersalone’ came back after an 18 month hiatus with a thematical and scenografic display created by Milanese architect Stefano Boeri, where companies were able to show their best work from the past 18 months: a unique and special moment to discover today’s design panorama. With special attention to sustainability and recycling of the structures used to display the collections, one of the things that stood out to me was that Salone del Mobile partnered with local initiative ‘Forestami’ to create a forest of 200 trees throughout the fairgrounds that would later be planted across Milan.
Once I experienced the full immersion into the furniture world of the fairgrounds, Fuorisalone 2021 gained high relevance this year as the city’s central neighbourhoods showcased the latest contemporary designs: historical palazzos opened their eclectic interiors to the work of emerging design talent, showrooms presented the latest launches and in every corner there was a promise of discovering all aspects related to the world of design. So, while there were so many different and interesting events going on throughout the whole city, here are the top highlights of my visit to the Milan Design Fair 2021!
SALUTES THE NATURAL WORLD
Giorgio Armani’s latest collection for Armani Casa, which debuted at Salone del Mobile 2021, looks to bring the serenity of the great outdoors inside, and features unique pieces like this limited-edition bar cabinet with cyndrical sides. In a nod to Oriental culture – a longstanding inspiration for the creative master – the design is layered with a Japanese tatami styled paper and cotton covering, and its internal structure is constructed using marble and mother of pearl. Such a stunning collection I absolutely love!
Limited Edition Bar Cabinet by Armani Casa
Carpet designer Jan Kath is known for his wide range of award-winning carpet designs, hand-knotted in highland wool and finest silk. In this edition of Salone del Mobile, the fantastic northern lights in the sky over Siberia were the inspiration for the Spectrum collection, which we all admired being beautifully hand woven directly on the stand. There is just something so special I love about seeing the craftmanship behind every piece of furniture, textile and art!
Jan Kath Spectrum Carpet
For a dose of design inspiration combining past and present, the Poltrona Frau Flagship Store in Via Manzoni is an experience not to be missed. One of the main highlights of the Salone del Mobile this year was the launch of Poltrona Frau’s new outdoor collections, which took place in the stunning Milano Flagship showroom. With furniture and lighting by Roberto Lazzeroni, Ludovica and Roberto Palomba (two design studios that have contributed to the company’s identity over the past ten years) and new collaborator, Japanese designer Kensaku Oshiro, the light and comfortable furnishings designed for relaxation or dining and inspired by the Mediterranean lifestyle explore a fresh and boundless approach to the indoor and outdoor spaces of the home.
Poltrona Frau Flagship Store in Via Manzoni, 30 | The Secret Garden Collection by Poltrona Frau
CRAFTMANSHIP MEETS TECHNOLOGY
Sharing the importance of restoring vitality to the excellence of the Italian furniture supply chain, Giorgetti created a conceptual installation for the Salone del Mobile 2021 at the main stand in Rho Fiera, with the protagonist being my favourite rocking chair Move, designed by Raffaella Pugliatti. The armchair was presented in two versions: in its entirety and in a decomposed and suspended version that recounts the moment when craftsmanship meets contemporary technological research. The wooden frame of the Move armchair is made up of 30 pieces of solid ash wood, carried out thanks to precision technology, which is followed by manual manufacturing in the finishing and gluing phases. This fusion of traditional techniques and the use of state-of-the-art technology allows Giorgetti to make quality products that maintain their own distinctive characteristics. I reconfirmed that beauty and comfort are concepts that can certainly go hand-in-hand!
Giorgetti Stand at Salone del Mobile 2021 | Giorgetti Move Armchair
MOLTENI & C
IN THE AIR
Possibly the stand with the most elevated concept would be Molteni & C’s, presenting Flight D.154.5, an immersive installation by Ron Gilad replicating an airplane interior and featuring a reissue of the Round D.154.5 armchair, designed by Gio Ponti in 1954, and used within the Alitalia offices in Manhattan and the Alitalia passenger terminal in Milan. The armchairs were aligned two by two along the stand accompanied with the familiar sound of airplane safety indications in the background. I cannot deny that this was one of the stands that stuck with me as I love and have missed traveling so much!
Molteni & C Stand at Salone del Mobile 2021
EXPLORING THE LANGUAGE OF MATERIALS
The Brera Design District is one of the most beautiful areas of the city, characterised by cobbled streets, old buildings with juliet balconies and colourful shutters, boutique clothings stores, artisanal perfumeries, restaurants and bars perfect for enjoying an evening aperitif.
This year, staged at La Pelota in Brera, Hermés unveiled its new home collection rich in raw and tactile materials housed in five hand painted structures, inviting guests to discover furniture, objects and textiles through a multisensory experience. Inside each monumental structure painted with geometric motifs referencing the collection’s palette of colours and shapes I enjoyed observing elements referencing North African vernacular architecture and solemn plinths that showed the new pieces through an interplay between lights and shadows. Among the pieces ‘designed to be touched’ stood the ‘Sillage’ armchair made from recycled paper fibres, and cashmere blankets hanging from wooden poles. In essence, the exhibition became a sensory homage to the physicality of craftmanship.
Hermès Home Collection Exhibition at La Pelota, Brera
In essence, the Milan Design Week and Salone del Mobile 2021 were beautiful to experience, uniting in every corner of the city a refreshing energy of optimism and an undeniable passion for design and creativity. It comes as no surprise that whether it’s furniture, high fashion clothing items, textiles or the study of living spaces, Italian design knows how to combine taste, functionality, vision and style. During the Design Week, Milan is especially such an interesting city as, more than just architectural studios or exclusive ateliers, Milan’s design develops over a dense network of co-working spaces, centres of experimentation, workshops and ongoing collaborations which open their doors for everyone to experience from close-up!
DO YOU HAVE ANY HIGHLIGHTS OF THIS YEAR’S MILAN DESIGN FAIR? WHAT ARE YOU LOOKING FORWARD TO SEEING IN NEXT YEAR’S EDITION? I’D LOVE TO KNOW IN THE COMMENTS BELOW!
Published in Society Magazine October 2021
Courtesy of Armani Casa
Courtesy of Jan Kath
Courtesy of Poltrona Frau
Photography by Pedro Jaen
Courtesy of Salone del Mobile
PHOTO 11 & 13
Photography by Maxime Verret