If you follow furniture, you know that unlike fashion it’s less about trends than about style and innovation. Every April at the Salone Internazionale del Mobile in Milan, the most established designers — whose impeccable, minimalist works are mainstays of producers like Cassina and Kartell — set the tone for the industry, and this year is no exception. Here’s a glimpse of what to expect when the furniture fair opens on April 14.
Paola Navone’s collaboration with Ken Scott: the 2006 Airport sofa for Poliform
Paola Navone introduced an extensive collection of furniture for Gervasoni at last year’s Salone, but it was her Taste Lounge installation for the porcelain company Richard Ginori, with a cafe by the food designers Arabeschi di Latte, that got all the buzz. This year, this grande dame of Italian design will be in the spotlight for another collaboration of sorts, with the late textile designer Ken Scott: her low-slung 2006 Airport sofa for Poliform (above) will be covered in Scott’s psychedelic florals, which once graced the turtlenecks that ’60s dandies wore with their velvet dinner suits. Considering Navone’s own progressive past — she was a member of the Alchimia group in the ’80s — it’s a smart match.
From Moroso, Arad’s new stainless-steel Wire chair
Ron Arad didn’t exactly have furniture on his mind in 2009, busy as he was helping prepare his Pompidou/MoMA retrospective and building Israel’s new design museum, Holon. ”I try to refrain from making more chairs to put in magazines after the fair — I’ve done enough of it,” he said. Still, he’s showing once again with Moroso, with whom he’s collaborated for the past 20 years. His new stainless-steel Wire chair (above) echoes the stackable plastic Ripple seat that he made for the brand in 2005 but with a more sculptural form; unlike a Bertoia or an Eames chair, he pointed out, the shape rather than the cross-bracing provides the support, so it’s got a comfortable bounce.
Antonio Citterio’s Ray sofa for B&B Italia
The Italian architect and roving creative director Antonio Citterio is all about the luxe life, having built the Ermenegildo Zegna headquarters and both Bulgari hotels. His new pair of sofas for B&B Italia are aimed at customers seeking glamour rather than eccentricity: the Lutetia is a classic three-seater with customizable stitching and trim, while the Ray (above) is a follow-up to his earlier best seller Charles — a reference to the Eameses, mind you, not the soul singer.
Piero Lissoni’s colorful table for Glas Italia
Contrary to any design-world fears, Piero Lissoni reported that all his clients are bringing cutting-edge projects to the fair, unfazed by the market’s perils. Kartell has invested in the technology to build his molded-aluminum chair —
a first for the legendary plastic maker — while Cassina will unveil his experimental sofa, essentially a bare frame wrapped in tensile fabric. Glas Italia, on the other hand, probably didn’t need convincing; the panels of Lissoni’s colorfully striped tables for the company (above) are made of glass that has been rescued from the factory floor. ”We pay $25 per square meter for high-quality glass, and then we throw it away like garbage,” he says. ”It has incredible value.”
Rodolfo Dordini’s jade furniture handles for Pamar
You typically can’t walk far at the fair without running into something by Rodolfo Dordoni. This year the prolific Milanese designer and former Cappellini art director, whose aesthetic runs toward the sleek and timeless, is introducing pieces with nine different producers, from furniture for Cassina and Minotti to a Flaminia toilet and bidet. Also made from porcelain is this series of furniture handles for the Italian hardware company Pamar, which invited eight designers, including James Irvine and Jasper Morrison, to reinterpret the white stuff in a contemporary way. Dordoni’s contributions are glossy and curvaceous, resembling toothpaste swirls and leather-bound discs of jade (above), complete with a crackled finish.
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