Our wrap of the 2015 Salone del Mobile (Milan International Furniture Fair)

Salone del Mobile is now in its 54th year and continues to set the global benchmark for quality and innovation in furniture design. The Milan-based fair ran last week alongside Milan Design Week and featured 2,106 exhibitors, plus 700 young designers. But fashion isn’t only featured at the Milan Design Week; tens of fashion designers created product ranges and installations specifically for the Salone del Mobile audience. It’s proof that the boundaries between fashion and furniture/interior design is blurred, and that designers from each realm have much to learn from one another.

The fair started as a way to promote Italian-designed furniture and home accessories that were on the export market. It’s certainly achieved this and more, with half of the fair’s visitors coming from 160 countries around the world. Hand-in-hand with the fair comes glamorous cocktail parties, private dinners and impressive design installations of all sizes.

Read on for our favourite features.

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French fashion house Louis Vuitton presented its new 16-piece collection of portable travel objects, ‘Objets Nomades‘, at this year’s Fair. The theme is inspired by the brand’s strong affiliation with globetrotting and associated design. In fact, Louis Vuitton created the famous flat-bottomed suitcase trunks back in 1859.

Nine designers contributed to the handcrafted collection including Patricia Urquiola, Atelier Oï, Barber & Osgerby, Nendo, Campana Brothers, Gwenaël Nicolas, Raw Edges, Damien Langlois-Meurinne and Maarten Baas. The designs are eclectic but practical and include a hanging Maracatu cabinet, solar-powered lamps holstered by leather carry cases, a sycamore wood travel desk and origami-inspired folding stools. There’s a strong theme of natural materials and organic colours throughout the pieces.

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For  this year’s Salone Del Mobile, Herman Miller collaborated with Maharam – a leading provider
of textiles to architects and interior designers – and Dutch designers Scholten and Baijings to create ‘Lines, Grids and Blocks’. It’s an installation of Maharam-upholstered pieces, with a youthful colour-blocking theme.

Lengths of the nine-metre repeat fabrics were draped from ceiling to floor, crating backdrops for the furniture. Scholten & Baijings designed the wool fabrics with patterns large enough to upholster an entire sofa without repetition. The collection showcased plenty of pink, which was a strong feature throughout the 2015 Fair.

The Australian Design Review reported that in terms of colour palettes, Milan was awash with ”shades of pink, from light to dark and bold green and blue, with the warmer spring weather and a more buoyant European economy [making] for a vibrant and successful Salone.”

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The family-run company Living Divani has made upholstered furniture its signature look. Living Divani says that “the essential silhouettes and tailoring codes” were the essence of its collection for this year’s Fair. It experimented with natural materials such as hide, leather, rope and wicker. In fact, you can see similarities with Louis Vuitton’s Objets Nomades collection in terms of the materials and traditional craftsmanship used.

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Fashion brand COS recently landed in Australia and is synonymous with affordable and quality fast fashion. However, what many don’t know is that COS is collaborating around the world with various galleries and designers to assert itself more broadly in the design world. In fact, COS has already collaborated with London’s Serpentine Galleries, the Frieze Art Fairs and the Barbican.

For the Salone del Mobile, designers from Snarkitecture used 100,000 meters of synthetic, translucent non-woven textile to create a unique installation for COS. The result embodied COS’s their clean, minimalist design aesthetic, and focused on the designers’ concept of ‘reduction’.

In this white cave, of sorts, visitors could follow paths created by shorter sections of the strips, or pull back the longer lengths to create their own path.

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Another fashion brand that made its mark at this year’s Salone del Mobile was English fashion designer Vivienne Westwood. The brand  collaborated with London-based lifestyle brand and design studio TIIPOI to create the ‘Alchemy: Material Obsessions’ collection. The fashion design brand presented this new project at its flagship Italian boutique.

The Mirror 6 Collection by TIIPOI consists of metal mirrors that are cast using a complex bronze-alloy – the origin of which dates back to the 15th century from a town called Aranmula, Kerala, in Southern India.

TIIPOI collaborate with a family in Aranmula who have been making cast metal mirrors for over 600 years. The alloy composition is a closely guarded secret as it is said to have come to an ancestor in a dream. Once cast, the metal is laboriously polished by hand until the surface turns reflective. The reflections produced by these mirrors are considered the purest kind, as the light is reflected directly from the polished surface. Again, traditional craftsmanship presented itself as a strong theme at this year’s Fair and will no doubt prevail throughout the design world this year.

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Finally, the luxury Italian fashion house Fendi worked with the quirky Campana Brothers to create the somewhat disarming ‘Armchair of Thousand Eyes’.

This is a project of humour, with Fendi’s popular bag bugs being reinterpreted by Fernando and Humberto Campana as a piece of furniture. The armchair features a brass base and tens of goggly eyes. It’s both a piece of art and an object of hilarity.