17 Cutting-Edge Designs from Salone del Mobile 2015

17 Cutting-Edge Designs from Salone del Mobile 2015

By Diana Budds
At Milan Design Week 2015, experimentation with materials, an ongoing obsession with Memphis, biomorphic forms, and interest in sustainability permeated the new offerings on view.

For one week in April, designers from around the world come together in Milan to unveil new work. At Salone del Mobile, the sprawling furniture fair which saw over 300,000 visitors this year; Euroluce, the bi-annual lighting exhibition; and Fuorisalone, the offsite events, the result of years of product development and research were on-view along side elaborate branding events and art installations.

The Italian brand Zanotta exhibited the William sofa, a new design for 2015, alongside the Genni chair, the 1935 brainchild of Gabriele Mucchi.

This year we were excited to see a recurring interest in greening the furniture industry. If you must consume, it should be in a responsible manner.

Designer Jean-Marie Massaud collaborated with Arper on the modular Steeve sofa. This year the furniture brand will open a factory in High Point, North Carolina, to produce the sofa.

"As a product designer, I feel like the strongest political action that any citizen makes is buying things," says Erwan Bouroullec. "We buy things all the time, and of course, it has huge, huge consequences on the world." The Bouroullecs debuted new collections for Vitra, Artek, and Magis at Salone 2015. Always reliable for sophisticated, thoughtful designs, the Bouroullecs departed from their typical material palette with their wrought-iron chairs and tables for Magis. The rough-hewn material and revival of an early-industrial production method in contemporary furniture was refreshing. "If you compare it to cooking, to play with wrought iron is just like having an incredible fish," Bouroullec says. "In design, [manufacturing] techniques are like flavors. In the case of wrought iron, you've got a really, really rare flavor."

The prototype for the Officina series of wrought-iron furniture by the Bouroullec Brothers for Magis was unveiled in 2014, but this year the production pieces debuted. "If you compare it to cooking, to play with wrought iron is just like having an incredible fish," Erwan Bouroullec says. "In design, [manufacturing] techniques are like flavors. In the case of wrought iron, you've got a really, really rare flavor."

At designjunction Edit Milan, an offsite event in the San Babila district, the Green Room featured a curated living room of environmentally conscious furniture. Over at the fair grounds, Emeco showcased the Alfi chair by Jasper Morrison, whose seat is made from 100 percent reclaimed post-industrial polypropylene and wood fiber and base is made from ash wood.

Memphis rears its head again in the form of the Panda series by Paola Navone for Cappellini.

The "natural" theme continued with Foscarini's Kurage lamp by Nendo, which sported a washi paper shade and silhouette reminiscent of a jellyfish. Brodie Neill, a designer hailing from Tasmania, launched his sinuous Alpha chair. Though made from solid wood, the perch is the product of digital fabrication and design. "To strengthen the junction between the seat and leg, we made it so there's as much surface area as possible where the two pieces fit together," Neill says. "It's almost like a bone joint. It's really solid and strong."

The Rio table by Charlotte Perriand is now in production thanks to Cassina. The black marble top signals an interest in exploring deeper shades of the classic stone—a growing trend.

Engaging with technical rigor could also be seen in the Hypetex chair by Michael Sodeau, another designjunction offering. More of a concept than a production piece, the chair is made from lightweight, carbon-fiber that can be color matched to anything in the Pantone library. Engineers from the Formula-One world developed the material.

The Alpha chair by Brodie Neill gleans influence from digital design as well as the natural world in the form of how joints work.

Much like 2014, 2015 saw an interest in Memphis from emerging designers as well as established brands like Cappellini. The company collaborated with Paola Navone on the Panda line of chairs, tables, and sofas. For 2016, we're hoping for new source material but the same interest in creating design that's delightful.

Casa International tapped Mauro Lipparini to design the Positano sofa, a modular design that can be configured in myriad ways.

Marcel Wanders, the 2015 Dwell on Design keynote speaker, designed the Crystal door handle for Olivari.

For Afghan Made, Wallpaper paired modern rug companies with manufacturers from Afghanistan as a way to jumpstart the industry.

The Alfi chair by Jasper Morrison for Emeco is made from recycled materials and responsibly harvested wood.

Nendo and Luca Nichetto designed a lamp for Foscarini that uses washi paper for its shade.

The Danish brand Georg Jensen extends its existing collections to include porcelain and glass—a first for the company that earned its stripes working with metal. The tableware and glassware boast an organic, wave-like form.

At an immersive installation entitled the Department Store, British designer Lee Broom unveiled over 20 new designs in a Kubrick-esque setting—easily our favorite of Salone 2015. See a video here.

In Mazda Design: The Car as Art, the automaker explored ways to convey dynamic motion through design. The Bike by KODO Concept features a steel frame that was handmade by Mazda's craftsmen and leather seat that uses the same stitching technique as Mazda's car upholstery.

At designjunction, New Works of Copenhagen displayed these candlesticks, which explore different concrete textures.

We were smitted with the emerald hue of a new rug by Paola Lenti.

Also at designjunction, metallic desk accessories by Beyond Object that appeal to your inner magpie.


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