Given the global recession, one might expect inspiration and innovation to be in short supply at the world’s most important home furnishings show, which closed April 27. Yet the 2009 Salone Internazionale del Mobile, where top designers showcased their latest looks, offered proof that lean times can inspire fresh thinking.
Inspired by Maori legends, New Zealand designer David Trubridge created pendulous lighting fixtures that look like giant water droplets suspended in baskets made from aluminum, sanded plastic and bamboo plywood.
Established & Son's co-founder, designer Sebastian Wrong, collaborated with artist Richard Woods to create the Bricks and Mortar easy chair.
The Feeler lamp by Pudelskern is sheathed in hand-knit Tyrolean wool. It can be hung as a pendant light or used as a floor lamp with a metal spine to hold it upright. The company, which exhibited in the Satellite division of the Milan furniture fair, also showed knit pendant lamps — a popular item this year
Felt continues to be a popular material. Here it takes an unexpected place on the multicolored doors of a wardrobe by the Italian company EmmeBi.
Vinyl wire is woven into light fixtures and a weather-resistant (and surprisingly heavy) chair, both created by Paola Navone, artistic director of the Italian furniture manufacturer Gervasoni.
The Spanish company Uno Design turned a minimalist felt-covered seat in yellow, one of the trendiest colors of the season, into El Ultimo Grito, an exuberant modernist wing chair with the addition of a flared mesh back.
Phillipe Starck and Eugeni Quitllet's Ring chair for Driade creates a dazzling optical effect where the polycarbonate arm and back are joined to the polypropylene base
Shigeru Ban's system of do-it-yourself seating for Artek consists of 10 modular pieces that allow users to build black, white or striped stools, seats and benches. It's built with UPM ProFi, an innovative "wood" made from recycled paper and plastic that is weather-resistant and recyclable.
Philippe Starck's Masters chair for Kartell traces the outline of the arms and backrests of three midcentury classics by Arne Jacobsen, Charles and Ray Eames, and Harry Bertoia.
Working for the furniture company Green, Studio Archirivolto presented a collection of stacking plastic chairs. The basic model is called Nord. Add a top rail, and it becomes Sud-Ovest, a more French design. Add plastic arms, and you get Est, an Asian oxbow style. There are 65 different permutations based on five chair colors and six top rail and arm colors.
Known for its Rococo furniture, Versace dialed down its designs and embraced Art Deco, Streamline Moderne and Hollywood Regency. This dining chair mixes a midcentury Danish back with a modern Continental base lacquered in Chinese red.
In his first collaboration with the British design house Established & Sons, Spanish designer Jaime Hayon tapped into Henry VIII for his Tudor Collection, as modern and sexy as the Showtime series. The collection includes cabinets with beveled glass insets and different chairs designed in honor of the monarch's six wives.
Phillipe Starck and Eugeni Quitllet's Out/In high-back chair for Driade is a single piece of injected molded plastic — no joints.
Seats for the antisocial or the ideal workstation for airports? The enormous wing chairs by Prooff and the over-scaled reading lights above provided a little haven for the weary at the Milan show.
Anyone who fell in love with the adorable Chairy in "Pee Wee’s Playhouse" might have a soft spot for this quilted armchair by Normann of Copenhagen. The Danish design company also showcased a charmingly homemade-looking shelving unit in vivid yellow.
During design week in Milan, events outside the show included the opening of an interesting home decor store called Skitsch. Following American stores such as Moss in Los Angeles and New York and Limn in San Francisco, which position furniture showrooms as art galleries, Skitsch carries commissioned pieces and special editions by more than two dozen international designers. An online store for U.S. customers is set to launch in early summer.
Milan furniture fair 2009: Best in show - Milan Nilufar Gio Ponti - Los Angeles Times