Design Dispatch From Salone del Mobile 2013


California Home+Design staffers couldn’t make it to Milan this year, so we enlisted the eyeballs of Touch design studio co-founder Peter Scherrer. As one half of a team that performs product and graphic design, branding and how-to workshops, he’s the perfect scout. Below, he trains his expertise on sussing out the top trends during the massive event going on through April 14—and check out Peter’s Salone del Mobile picks gallery here

Tuesday was the first official day in Milan for this year’s edition of the Saloni and Design Week. The cold and rainy weather—combined with the effects of a struggling European economy—made for a more subdued mood than in years past. Still, even a slightly slower Milan presents a bigger and more exciting design event than anywhere else in the world. There are hundreds of installations and products to explore. 

Hugo Passos at Most, Salone del Mobile 2013. Photography by Peter Scherrer.

I spent time at La Triennale di Milano that showcases a variety of installations, including Toolbox by Belgium is Design, and Most, an exhibit organized by Tom Dixon in the Natural Museum of Science and Technology (it also features an array of other brands and designers). I cruised Zona Tortona, where I liked TuttoBene, a collective of Dutch Designers now in it’s 10th year, and Lasvit, the Czech lighting company. 

Arik Levy for Lasvit, Salone del Mobile 2013. Photography by Peter Scherrer.

On the second official day, the sun came out, and so did the crowds. Ventura Lambrate was packed and the area—in an industrial Milan neighborhood that becomes a design mecca for the week—was buzzing. The event is now in its 4th edition, and some of the highlights were experimental pieces by some of the leading educational design institutions.

Ventura Lambrate, Salone del Mobile 2013. Photography by Nicole Marnati.

A highlight this year is a giant and perfectly staged installation by Moooi on Via Savona. Rossana Orlandi, the design oasis in town, has the usual eclectic mix of designs, including colorful PET lamps by Alvaro Catalán de Ocón, new collections by design duo BCXSY, and glassWood by German designer Alexa Lixfeld.

Labyrinth chairs and Bucket Light by Studio Job for Moooi, Salone del Mobile 2013. Photography by Peter Scherrer.

PET lamps at Rossana Orlandi, Salone del Mobile 2013, photography by Peter Scherrer.

And while it’s early in the week to cement the trends, here are three things I’ve noticed:

  • Glass is being manufactured in a variety of techniques and is making a strong showing this year.

GlassWood by Alexa Lixfeld, Salone del Mobile 2013. Photography by Peter Scherrer.

  • I’m seeing lots of textured surfaces on seating. That includes knitted and woven materials that bring intricate qualities to seating.

Lounge of layers, Droog, Salone del Mobile 2013. Photography by Peter Scherrer.

  • Process is a huge discussion. Craft vs. technology. Just as some designers are exploring and pushing the boundaries with 3-D printing, there is another group that pushes old fashioned craftsmanship. It’s not just the product that is being promoted for its shape and functionality, but how it has been made and what it has been made out of. In addition, wooden chairs and tables seem more prominent than in prior years—perhaps in response to new materials and technologies. 

3-D printing makes a big appearance, Salone del Mobile 2013. Photography by Peter Scherrer.

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