Despite a week of pounding rain and skies that spilled gray, Milan managed to strike a bold and hopeful design forecast during its 2008 Furniture Fair, which included the industry’s definitive design fair, Salone Internazionale del Mobile, and its accompanying biennial Eurocucina event.
From piazza to grand pavilion, reclaimed warehouse to high-rent showroom, almost every inch of the city was transformed into an interactive commentary on the state of design. Inspiration could be found in even the most unexpected places—from a life-size fantasy airplane covered in black-and-white tilework for mosaic brand Bisazza to Corian’s fantastical Missoni-inspired interiors.
Beyond the spectacle, this year a “new classic” and seriousness in purpose emerged. The common thread: a knowledgeable reworking of traditional shapes coupled with highly skilled craftsmanship—contemporary defined by simple, structural shapes, sophisticated materials, tactile details and sartorial techniques.
Evoking the idea of a new luxury, in which comfort and elegance are equally at home, designers espouse details from certain established traditions—traditions modernized by the creative application of technology in new and innovative ways.
Heavy materials become light. Light materials bear unexpected weight. Skilled craftsmanship is tempered by technological know-how. The balance between the two results in something altogether new.
Lignum et Lapis, Antonio Citterio, Arclinea
The kitchen as sculpture and total design solution. From Arclinea and renowned architect Antonio Citterio, Lignum et Lapis. The beauty of natural wood is highlighted by a solid door of plantation-grown larch, designed in staves of varying widths set at different distances.
A repeating sequence emphasizes the design effect. Formal research and technological innovation have produced real industrial sculptures, physical monolithic blocks in stone combined with Eulithe (rigid polyurethane polymer foam, for lightness), aluminum (for mechanical resistance) and supporting elements (side and end panels) that act as bases.
Helleu, Francois Russo, Poltrona Frau
The decisive and continuous sharp lines of Helleu reinterpret the classic director’s chair in a contemporary manner. The frame in steel is completely covered in a white acrylic resin. The innovative system that fixes the leather is in dashes along the sides of the chair and backrest, almost like stitching.
Flat.C, Antonio Citterio, B&B Italia
The extreme unobtrusiveness of the Flat.C system, designed by architect Antonio Citterio, ensures that knowledge (not electronics) takes center stage in this multimedia solution for B&B Italia. Fully customizable, open or closed containers and a system of back panels and cable ducts deal with unpleasant tangles. Structural elements (made of extruded aluminum profiles) are elegant and highly effective.
Caprice, Philippe Starck, Cassina
The steel structure of Philippe Starck’s Caprice chair supports a futuristic nylon frame, to which a padded matelassé leather cover is fitted as closely as the best of tailored garments. Precise geometric stitching forms a counterpoint to the soft lines, welcoming the body naturally.
Tricot, Dominique Perrault & Gaelle Lauriot-Prevost, Poltrona Frau
Nomadic in form, Tricot is comprised of three soft, differently sized cushions. The largest provides the seating area, the smallest the armrest, and the third adds a comfortable backrest. The cushions are enclosed within a leather “mesh” created from strips of Saddle T, cut in waves and assembled with beautifully aged brass eyelets.
Bohemian Armchair, Patricia Urquiola, Moroso
The Bohemian armchair boasts an original approach to classic capitonné work. Its fluid modern form, melting over its frame, creates soft, irregular, enveloping, almost casual lines, where leather is fixed to the shell with press-studs.