‘Austerity was perhaps the theme of this year’s biggest event on the design calendar; the Eurozone economic crisis seems to be having some significant impact with many companies who traditionally have had elaborate and expensive stands have noticeably downsized or simply reduced costs – its plain to see.
Having said that there is still no substitute for the buzz and energy that the fair generates along with its now well established supplementary events such as Zona Tortona and all the other Fuori Salone (outside) events – too many to list.
At the Salone itself, Flexform showed resilience with the depth and quality of its collection – meticulously displayed in what was perhaps the best stand of the fair.
Some of the majors, it has to be said, were a little disappointing.
Minotti showed a new classic sofa collection in a typically elegant setting, building on its already full house of crafted sofas driven by its visionary creative director designer Rodolfo Dordoni – who has created the superbly sophisticated look that is now Minotti. Although it must also be said that its new armchair collection bears a little too much resemblance to Knoll’s Saarinen ‘Womb’ chair in my opinion at least.
Traditionally the fair was the venue to showcase exclusively new product but increasingly these days its seems merely a venue for simply putting everything the company does on display – in some fashion –and not necessarily anything even new.
Ron Gilad’s ‘Grado’ collection for Molteni was a stand-out exception– a fine angled frame table collection with glass tops – the skill of its engineering by Molteni clearly evident.
Kartell continue to innovate with the re-edition of the vintage 4801 armchair by the Italian master Joe Colombo from 1965. Originally designed in plywood, now re-interpreted in plastic as only Kartell can do. And, lets not forget to mention ‘Miss Less’ – what would the fair be without yet another new chair by Phillipe Starck.
Cecotti – a company well known for its finely crafted timber work, branched out of strictly timber with some beautifully crafted timber & metal combination and pure metal pieces – more one-off’s than production items..in beautifully bronzed finishes having an air of genuine quality and timelessness – rare commodities in this age.
Moroso continues to develop is uniquely specialized, almost hand-crafted approach to upholstery with several beautiful pieces on display.
At EuroCucina – Minotti Cucine continue to redefine the Kitchen and set the bar higher with their unique interpretation of the Kitchen. Minotti displays a passionate, adventurous and skilled handling of fine materials – in this case stone and glass to create a highly architectural object – not just merely a kitchen.
This was also evident in the Kitchens, as well as bathrooms on display at their elegant showroom in town.
Boffi continue to impress with their extensive and highly resolved Kitchen and bathroom collections at their Via Solferino showroom – setting the standard.
B&B showed only outdoor product at the fair in a relatively modest display but in their Via Durini showroom there was more energy with yet another sofa series from Citterio and very elegant chair called ‘Theo’ by a favourite minimalist master – Vincent Van Duysen. Also refusing to stand still, B&B continues to develop existing collections with variations on their ‘Mart’ and ‘JJ’series chairs as well as the classic ‘Athos’ table by Paolo Piva.
Outside the fair, Zona Tortona was typically packed – it took me a full 30 minutes to cross the small footbridge at Porta Genova. Perhaps the biggest event was Poltrona Frau celebrating its 100 year anniversary – the entire stable (also including Cappellini and Cassina ) – staging a big warehouse event on Zona Tortona with an outstanding installation. However, on a personal note, I would have expected Poltrona Frau to have a separate and better stand-alone event for an anniversary of a company of such history and importance to the furniture industry.
Molteni also featured and exhibition of the work of the famous Italian architect, Gio Ponti. His output was prodigious and highly original and includes much furniture and ceramics and other objects. Molteni paid tribute to the architect and designer with a re-editioning of some his well known arm-chairs, tables and storage units.
Tecno also sought to feature its wealth of history by digging deeper into its archive collection and displaying – in its magnificent Caselli di Porta Garibaldi setting – some of its historical collection items such as the AT16 coat rack/pole – designed in 1961 by its founder Osvaldo Borsani . With an oversize version standing in the courtyard, suddenly a humble coat-rack becomes an icon piece of the 2012 Salone.
There were so many different events and installations on all over town was difficult to see them all but one of the more interesting was the installation right in Milan’s premier shopping street, Via Montenapoleone, by Citroen of some of its classic models including the Pallas and its joint venture vehicle with Maserati – the SM from 1970 – an absolute classic. Milan is about design in all its forms – not just furniture.
Although its intense and exhausting, Milan is such an enjoyable and important experience we’ll always look forward to its design overload. The critical issue for any designer is to be able to distill all of that product and installation material into the essence of what really matters.’