Each year, for a week in April, Milan turns into a frenzy of colours, fabrics, materials, cameras, and a noisy buzz of languages, as it welcomes hundreds of thousands of people who are not here to take selfies in front of the Duomo or bask in the Italian sun; they are all headed towards the Rho Milan Fairgrounds for the Salone.
Salone Internazionale del Mobile is the largest furniture fair in the world. It is during this crazy and busy week that most of the big furniture brands introduce the new designs they have been working on throughout the year. More than 350 000 visitors attended the 53rd edition of the fair this year, according to its website. The fairgrounds were brimming with people during the day, while showrooms in the centre of the city hosted exclusive cocktails, dinners and parties in the evenings, and there were also numerous other satellite events throughout the city.
So, part of our team went there to check it out in person. Although it was physically impossible to visit all the stands we wanted (no matter how comfortable our shoes were!), we did manage to get to some of our favourites. Needless to say how excited and inspired we are about all the new products and finishes… These were some of our favourites.
Vitra’s stand this year is all about colours, as you can see from this picture, showing the Aluminium chairs EA 101 in the 25 bright new Hopsak colours available from May 2014. All chairs shown here are upholstered in Hopsak with high-frequency welded horizontal ribbing. The new Hopsak palette will feature 28 colours, including the 25 new ones, plus three of the current Hopsak colours.
Eames Aluminium Chairs upholstered in the new Hopsak colours
The London-based British duo Edward Barber & Jay Osgerby have come up with this new playfully beautiful sofa, called Mariposa, which has flexible armrests, removable covers, and is super comfortable to sit in, thanks to its chamber cushions filled with stripped-quill feathers. “Mariposa” is the Spanish for butterfly, which makes perfect sense once you look at it with its “wings” open. Available from October 2014.
Mariposa Sofa by Edward Barber and Jay Osgerby
The brand new East River Chair designed by Hella Jongerius is another novelty in Vitra’s Home Collection. This easy chair is true to Hella Jongerius’s rather extravagant style, with a base in natural or dark oak and cover in leather and fabric, in a variety of coordinated colour combinations. Available from September 2014.
East River Chair by Hella Jongerius
2014 is also the year when the Landi Chair, designed by Hans Coray in 1938, comes back, only better, taking advantage of the latest technical possibilities. This stackable chair has a shell in pressed aluminium sheeting with 91 punched holes, with a matte anodised surface, and is suitable for both indoor and outdoor use. For all those barbeque parties that are sure to come soon. Available from September 2014.
Landi Chair by Hans Coray
We have always loved the Barcelona Chair, designed in 1929 by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe for the German Pavilion at the Barcelona World Exposition. Now this design icon is not only beautiful, but also very comfortable, as Knoll introduces Barcelona Relax (or Barcelona Comfort). Knoll have put a lot of efforts and research into making the original design more comfortable and bringing a more homey look and feel to it by adding adapted, softer cushions. The new Comfort version of the chair, stool, and day bed comes in a new grade W leather, Venezia, which comes in five colours. Barcelona Relax is available with selected retailers only, and we are proud to be one of them.
Barcelona Relax and Saarinen side table with a lacquered top
One of the greatest tables ever created, the Saarinen table, is now available in a stunning new lacquered top finish in a great choice of fresh colours. Imagine this 244cm oval dining table in red!
244cm Saarinen oval dining table with a lacquered top
Another design classic which comes with a new look: the Florence Knoll sofa is now also available with a bronze frame.
Florence Knoll sofa with a bronze frame upholstered in West fabric
Classic pieces aside, here are two great new products at the Knoll stand: David Adjaye’s Washington collection, featuring two stylish minimalistic chairs with cantilevered legs, the Washington Skin chair, made of injection-moulded nylon, and the Washington Skeleton chair, made of die cast aluminium. Suitable for outdoor use.
The Washington Collection: Skin Chair and Skeleton Chair.
Carl Hansen & Søn
We first saw the minimalistic CH88 chair, with its elegant steel frame and wooden seat and backrest, at the Stockholm Furniture Fair in February this year. The chair was designed by Hans J. Wegner in 1955 as a prototype, but is now produced for the first time by Carl Hansen to mark the 100th anniversary of Wegner’s birth.
CH88 Chair by Hans J. Wegner
Carl Hansen are relaunching a few more design icons from the 19th century this year at Milan. One of them is the Metropolitan Chair (LM92), designed as a conference chair by Ejnar Larsen and Aksel Bender Madsen back in 1949. The chair has a tensioned veneer backrest and stylish saddle leather upholstery, and it won its nickname after the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York purchased it for its Arts of Denmark exhibit in 1961. Now available with a solid oak or walnut frame and a saddle leather seat and backrest in natural, cognac or black.
Metropolitan Chair (LM92) by Larsen & Bender Madsen
Another great Carl Hansen relaunch is the CH825 Credenza, designed in 1959 by Hans J. Wegner. It is very cleverly designed and great for small spaces – the doors open by sliding into the sideboard. Available with an oak or walnut veneer corpus and solid wood or stainless steel legs.
CH825 Credenza by Hans J. Wegner
Paul Smith’s special tribute to Hans J. Wegner. This limited edition collection features Wegner’s iconic pieces upholstered in Paul Smith’s new fabrics from Maharam.
Paul Smith's limited edition collection, special tribute to Hans J. Wegner
Kartell’s stand this year looked like it had been touched by King Midas. The Precious Kartell collection featured Kartell classic pieces in all metallic finishes, gold, chrome and copper.
Gold and glamour aside, we loved the Plastics Duo Sofa in this new finish, softer than ever, and very, very comfortable, as you can see!
Emma enjoying the super comfortable Plastics Duo Sofa
Meet Philippe Starck’s Uncle Jim & Uncle Jack, who have just been introduced in Milan. Uncle Jack is currently the largest single-mold polycarbonate sofa, and Uncle Jim is his armchair cousin.
Uncle Jack (left) and Uncle Jim (right) by Philippe Starck. Yes, Uncle Jack is there, you just have to look closer.
Fritz Hansen didn’t have a stand at the fair, but hosted a wonderful annual launch party at their flagship showroom in the Brera district of Milan.
Among the big news this year is the relaunch of the Drop Chair, originally designed by Arne Jacobsen in the 1950s. Thanks to improvements in technology, this wonderful chair is now available in three versions, as a plastic chair, upholstered in fabric or leather.
Arne Jacobsen's Drop Chair is now relaunched and available in three finishes
Jaime Hayon is everywhere this year. He is the man behind the new organic-shaped Analog Table, designed to promote a return to the sense of togetherness, encouraging real communication with others around the table, as opposed to the modern digital lifestyle dominated by electronic devices. The shape of the table is neither a square, nor a circle, nor an oval, but rather something in between. Fritz Hansen presented the Analog through a mind-blowing video installation called “unplugged relations”, showing the table as being used in four everyday situations: family breakfast, business meeting, a date, a birthday, and a dinner.
The new Analog Table by Jaime Hayon at Fritz Hansen's flagship showroom in Milan
Piña chair, another great design by Jaime Hayon. First designed in 2011, now it comes in a few softer versions.
Piña collection by Jaime Hayon
One of our favourites is the simple and elegant Tibu stool by Torbjorn Anderssen and Esben Voll, which comes in a myriad of colours.
Tibu Stools by Anderssen & Voll
Lapalma’s stand, full of colours.
Lapalma's stand at Salone 2014
Lapalma’s iconic LEM stools with a beautiful new white powder-coated frame. We have a similar one coming to our showroom soon (only with a white Fenix laminate seat), in case you want to see it in flesh. They are stunning!
Lapalma LEM stools with the new white powder-coated frame
Cassina’s stand this year looked like a tropical forest, with dozens of real trees strewn all around and birds chirping in the background (we were assured these were not actual birds). The installation, called Floating Forest, was designed by the Japanese architect Sou Fujimoto, and represented architecture influenced by nature.
Cassina's stand with the Floating Forest installation. These trees are real!
Jaime Hayon’s distinctive style can be recognised again in the design of the new Vico sofa, very comfortable, with removable covers. Hayon’s collaboration with Cassina resulted in a sofa that is both elegant, with its sleek profile, and comfortable.
Vico sofa by Jaime Hayon
Mexique desk and Indochine armchair by Charlotte Perriand, for a touch of rustic chic.
Mexique Table Desk and Indochina Armchair by Charlotte Perriand
So… Grazie, Milano, and see you next year!
Yes, we actually took a photo like this one in front of each stand. Check out our Salone 2014 Facebook album to see the rest