Milan Design Week, whose latest edition began last Sunday and ends this Friday, has long since ceased to be solely a commercial event. In fact, this year the core of its programming, the Salone del Mobile, has had little to do with the massive annual fair of furniture, lighting and decoration novelties that, after the pandemic stopped – in 2020 it was canceled and in 2021 has been delayed for a few months — it will return to full capacity in 2022 during April, its usual date.
The solution its organizers have come up with on this occasion is a hybrid formula called Supersalone, which groups together a smaller and more synthesized representation of launches and collections in four pavilions. “The difference in size is not relevant because this is a special edition,” explains Maria Porro, new president of Salone del Mobile Milano, the entity that organizes the fair. “Supersalone is different because it marks a new beginning for the entire system. We have combined all our energies to celebrate it, because it seems essential to us to meet again, exchange ideas and discover the products that our exhibitors have generated in these 18 months ”.
This restrained optimism ran through an exhibition assembly that the architect Stefano Boeri has conceived under the sign of sustainability, with reusable structures and parallel corridors where participating companies display their new products. The pandemic has led to an undoubted global slowdown, but the furniture sector has been less hit than others. On the one hand, because, as the heads of different firms recognized privately, teleworking and the reorganization of the domestic space have boosted sales and cushioned the impact of the crisis. On the other, because the pace of the furniture sector is more relaxed than that of fashion or cosmetics; many releases are updates and updates to existing models, and new designs are designed to last for several seasons. Furthermore, production tends to respond to existing demand. Luckily for industrial designers, a sofa is not a T-shirt.
It is precisely on this dimension that the program of the fair affects, which includes an exhibition of chairs, armchairs and seats of authors from different periods, a series of conferences and also a collective exhibition of graduation projects from design schools around the world. In this last, The lost graduation show, there are from chairs and tables to a car or an incubator for newborns.
In Milan, theoretical discussions began in the middle of the 20th century, which, from architecture or engineering, led to the modern concept of design, and the Lombard capital remains unbeatable as a forum for debate. On its periphery are the headquarters of the luxurious historic firms – Cassina, Flexform, B&B Italia, Poliform, Minotti, Molteni & C – that invented modern furniture and fueled the postwar economic miracle. In turn, their schools discuss concepts that end up having an impact on decoration, gastronomy or technology. Everything in Milan ends up going through the filter of design —The Italians use the term in English to differentiate it from the drawing—, and this key allows us to understand the magnetic field that the Salone projects around it, and that alters the social and cultural life of the city for a week.
In fact, the influence of the Salone and the fuorisalone —Their side events outside the official headquarters— is the theme of The Salon / The City, at the Triennale museum, an exhibition that, as Maria Porro says, addresses this program “that has brought design to a legion of friends.” At this boiling point, during these days firms from all sectors, from fashion to automotive, present exhibitions in collaboration with designers and artists. The best-known names in the sector —Patricia Urquiola, Piero Lissoni, Philippe Starck— are lavish at openings and colloquia. In turn, independent designers find in this magma a perfect showcase to stick their heads out before a receptive audience. This year there has been a strong Spanish presence. The textile sculptures of Sergio Roger, the sustainable pieces of Álvaro Catalán de Ocón, the poetic lamps of Mayice Studio and the intricate industrial structures of Lucas Muñoz Muñoz have occupied prominent positions in the collective exhibition that the gallery owner Rossana Orlandi organizes every year. For her part, the artist Raquel Quevedo has presented an intervention in the Marsèll Paradise space.
Some projects are located in border territories and begin where the furniture ends. Others, like that of Jorge Penadés, are situated in the instant prior to his birth. On Looks like magic!, In the individual exhibition that he has conceived together with the curator Maria Cristina Didero for the Cinque Vie neighborhood, the Malaga designer explains to the attendees the process that has led him to create new material from textile fiber waste from the dryers of a laundry company. “We are used to seeing impeccably illuminated exhibitions with perfect objects, but this time I wanted to show what is behind it, what is never taught,” explains Penadés. “Thanks to this opportunity, I have been able to give shape to this idea and show it intuitively. I’m not so interested in the final product as in understanding how the material works and what possibilities it may have in the future ”.
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.