We saw the future for you.
For its exuberance, excitement, and—let’s be honest—pasta, Milan Design Week (also known as Fuorisalone) remains one of the most hotly anticipated events on the global design docket. This year’s extravaganza, and its accompanying trade fair, Salone del Mobile, in a convention center outside the city, marked the first time since 2019 the show had gone on in any form resembling pre-pandemic editions. The combination of back-at-it energy, smaller hordes of international press and curious locals, and, as always, eye-catching design made for a fair that felt more focused, leaner, and sharper but still joyous. Despite that change, taking stock of trends—and predicting what you may be coveting, discussing with your interior designer, or shopping in showrooms in 2022—was as fun and thought-provoking as ever. Here, ELLE DECOR editors sound off on everything we saw, loved, and think you should expect to see soon in a living room near you. —The Editors
PREPARE FOR PURPLE AND GREEN
Color alert: Purple is making a comeback. Deep sapphire, elegant lavender, and playful periwinkle—shades we associate more with the 1980s than the 21st century—all reared their heads at the fair. It showed up iIn locations as diverse as the showroom of Italian luxury furnishings brands Baxter and Poltrona Frau to Nilufar Gallery, where a show of designer Audrey Large’s 3D-printed works—including shelves, fountains, and bowls with amorphous forms—bridged design object and sculpture in vivid shades of amethyst and lilac. Green, too, seemed to be everywhere. Shades of emerald ruled the roost, rendered in leather, velvet, marble, and more. A slightly more confrontational acidic green has been trending in interiors and fashion for some time now, but this year’s Milan Design Week made a strong case for more soothing earthy, jewel-like tones. —Asad Syrkett
THE ‘80S ARE HERE TO STAY
Are you young enough to remember the ’80s, when mauve was modern, Italy’s Memphis school ruled in design, and Madonna was living in a material world? Well, just like the Material Girl, the ’80s were (still) back in Milan this year. Also at the influential Nilufar Gallery, the English designer Bethan Laura Wood exhibited a range of furniture whose tubular frames, curves, and primary hues seemed a clear nod to the Memphis Group, made fresh with bold ikat patterns inspired by her love of Meissen kimonos. Speaking of Memphis, the movement’s cofounder, George Sowden, debuted his eye-catching new lighting line, SowdenLight, in tutti-frutti silicone. —Ingrid Abramovitch
SECTIONALS: A ROOM OF ONE’S OWN
Sectionals with low profiles popped up all over town: B&B Italia, Minotti, Molteni, Cassina, Flexform, Edra, and more showed off new releases in nubby bouclé, supple suede, and luxurious velvet. They were largely low to the ground, which meant you wouldn’t want to leave—and you’d probably find it easier to stay put anyway. The proportions were generous; in the hands of the city’s most prominent furnishings brands, the sectional became a room unto itself, more akin to a conversation pit than a sofa. —A.S.
DESIGNERS USHER IN A NEW STONE AGE
It was somehow appropriate that Italy—home to some of the world’s most beautiful marbles—was the setting for what we’re calling the “new stone age.” Stone was everywhere, from the deeply veined tabletops in Patricia Urquiola’s Senga table for Cassina to the Carrara marble surfaces of Ini Archibong’s dramatic tables for Se Collections (exhibited at Rossana Orlandi’s innovative space). But no firm made a bigger statement than stone specialists Antolini, whose new bilevel flagship by designer Alessandro La Spada in the heart of Milan exhibits its wares (marbles, crystals, quartzites, and precious stones from around the globe) to spectacular effect, from bathtubs in solid stone to microthin veneers backlit to magnify the stone’s amazing natural patterns. —I.A.
Marble has indeed been an art, an obsession, and a way of life in Italy. But at this year’s fair, we noticed designers played with the age-old material in a new way: They sliced it very thin to create translucency; where there was once solidity, they created new, graphic shapes. Milanese rising-star architect Hannes Peer, for example, whose apartment design for the CEO of fashion brand Numeroventuno graces our September 2021 style and entertaining issue, showcased new works in marble at his atelier, a converted former beauty shop. Produced in collaboration with the French furnishings and decorative accessories studio La Chance, Peer’s work included a low lounge chair comprising three types of marble, and Lamina, a (frankly, staggering) table in Portuguese Estremoz marble. The tabletop, an oval of thinly sliced marble that subtly lets light through, sat on two monumental-but-elegant legs made of interlocking triangles. Bonus: It all packs flat. Just be prepared to do some heavy lifting. —A.S.
3D PRINTING GLOWS UP
The grand dame of 3D printing, Audrey Large, was on exhibit at Nilufar Gallery; I found her pieces to be discreetly engaged in something of a dialogue with the work of young Greek designer Natalia Triantafylli, whose collection Chimeras of a High Tide, shown as part of the “Lost Graduation Show” at the Salone del Mobile fairground, combined traditional slip-casting techniques with 3D-printed forms. Triantafylli’s material exploration suggests a bright future for the way we conceive of machine-assisted making (especially where polymers are concerned)—one not circumscribed by what has been but playfully engaged with what could be. —Sean Santiago
One of the most impressive aspects of this year’s fair was the amount of R&D that firms have invested in sustainable technologies. At B&B Italia, Piero Lissoni’s first outdoor collection, Borea, was made from recyclable aluminum, with cushions made from recycled PET plastic bottles, while some tabletops had surfaces glazed in enameled lava stone and recycled glass from discarded television and computer monitors. Molteni&C showed its new eco-friendly upholstery in 100 percent recycled and biodegradable polyester for its Paul sofa line. Meanwhile, Milan’s reigning queen of sustainability, gallerist Rossana Orlandi, invited Hong Kong designer Elaine Yan Ling Ng of Nature Squared to debut her CArrelé wall and floor tiles made of—no joke—recycled eggshell waste. —I.A.
Studio Stefan Scholten, formerly half of the duo Scholten & Baijings, exhibited his Stone House as a part of the exhibition “Masterly—The Dutch in Milano” at Palazzo Turati, featuring striking furniture made entirely of marble and travertine waste. Similarly, Studiopepe’s Ritagli tables, auctioned at the CTMP Design Auction, curated by Milanese design studio Mr. Lawrence and hosted by Cambi auctioneers, were produced from marble scraps. I found both to reflect a vogue for quilting and patchwork, but also to serve as a meditation on value and how—and to what—we assign it. —S.S.
HOMEWARES GET BRUTAL(IST)
Echoes of the work of Riccardo Bofill are to be found in the daring young homewares brand Gilda Editions, which includes tableware pieces by eight different designers including Jamie Wolfond and Rio Kobayahsi. Sammi Cherryman’s unforgiving Slot bowls, composed of individual stainless steel pieces that fit together like a violent puzzle, are a highlight. Cara/Davide’s petite Archivio table, two versions of which were exhibited at the CTMP Design Auction and at Galerie Philia’s “Rick Owens – Dialog with Emerging Designers” show, also engages the visual power of voids. Made of a single sheet of granite or marble in collaboration with Mille997, the table looks like the maquette for a post office from hell—and I mean that in a good way. —S.S.