Last week saw the design team from Juliettes Interiors take their annual pilgrimage to Salone del Mobile in Milan. Heralded as Fashion Week for Furniture, this has to be the most eagerly anticipated event in the world of luxury furniture. It is a showcase of ideas, creativity and innovation in all areas of luxury furniture manufacture, providing a global benchmark for the world to live up to. It highlights the exceptional quality and attention to detail that high end customers have come to expect.
From small beginnings back in 1961, this 57th edition of Salone del Mobile saw 1841 fantastic installations, with 435,000 visitors from 188 different countries. It encompassed 8 individual exhibitions, including the biennial Kitchen and Bathroom fairs. The main furniture and accessories exhibitions showcased all that’s new with some of the world’s most respected and established manufacturers, while Salone Satellite was host to 650 new, upcoming talents who showed that they were unafraid to experiment. These will be the ones to watch in years to come. Interior designers from around the world flock to Milan to find out what’s new and what to look out for in the year to come. So it’s over to Micaela Rossi, our Design Director, for her impressions of this year’s exhibition…
A Warm Milanese Welcome
As usual, the exhibition was organised right down to the last detail. The hospitality we enjoyed at the expo and from the people of Milan was second to none. They really know how to make visitors feel at home with a very warm welcome, a ready smile, wonderful Italian food and the odd glass of vino. Yes, it was an incredibly hectic week but the atmosphere was so relaxed, and that makes all the difference.
Reds, Russets and Earthy Tones
As far as trends go this year, what I noticed was that there was no one single approach. Each manufacturer brought their own unique ideas, different from the others, with very different ways of using the same materials. There was a noticeable penchant for nostalgia in some quarters, with some distinctive mid-century styling – but with modern twists and additions that created a brand new look and feel to the furniture. Colours were very natural with a lot of greens, russets and earthy tones. Even pink has had a makeover, moving towards the earthier end of the spectrum.
Natural Stone and Stunning Marble
Materials are also natural this year. I was impressed by the sheer variety of natural stone on display, showing an amazing range of textures and unexpected colours – purples, greens and amethyst to name but a few. Veined marble was also very much on trend, again in a profusion of colours from deepest black through russet and red shades to some striking shades of green. The important thing here is the veining. It is bold, it is dramatic and it is a definite talking point. This trend was seen across all design styles and all rooms; kitchen, bathroom, living room, study; classic, traditional and ultra-contemporary. I think we are about to see an explosion of the most eye-catching marble finishes – can’t wait.
Living Nature Project
This obsession with natural materials was the focus of the Living Nature Project. An extension of the exhibition, this was a laboratory in the Piazza del Duomo, aiming to make all our everyday spaces more human-friendly by bringing nature into interior design. This was not the inclusion of a couple of pot plants but botany on a grand scale. When the project ends in a couple of days’ time, they will be donating their magnificent trees and plants to the city of Milan – some twenty-three species of tall tree – including a Himalayan Birch, a Japanese Flowering Crab Apple, a Common Alder and a Persian Ironwood, along with flourishing beds of regional plants and flowers.
Fabrics & Finishes
I loved the fabrics at this year’s exhibition. They took centre stage at many of the stands with a strong focus on patterns and big, botanical prints. We were treated to African-inspired batiks and a host of 18th century-style prints of exotic birds, botanicals and even dragons. Where plain fabrics were used, these were gorgeously tactile, with innovative embossed and 3D textures in an array of rich colours. I did notice a lot more matt finishes this year, alongside brushed rather than polished metallics. As well as beautiful canaletto walnut and ebony, striking woods were everywhere, much of it aged or antiqued to give a comfortable, lived-in feel.
Shapes of many luxury furniture items such as sofas, chairs and occasional tables were often organic, with sensual and inviting curves. I felt compelled to keep running my hand around these relaxing contours – and I wasn’t alone. Other designs used very simple shapes but the use of gorgeous materials meant that they were utterly stunning.
My Top 5
This was so difficult. I have seen so many fabulous designs this week that it’s almost impossible to choose only five but, if I must, here they are. If you want to see even more fabulous pictures from Milan, pop over to our Pinterest page.
The Best Way to Spend a Week
Overall, I loved every minute of this luxury furniture exhibition. Every year I am astonished at the outstanding ideas and creativity on display, and this year was no exception. The manufacturers at Salone del Mobile are the finest in the world. They embrace innovation and technology to ensure that their luxury furniture is always the very best it can be. At Juliettes, we pick the best of the best, based on their creativity and their ability to provide custom options and bespoke items for our discerning customers. One thing that shone through this year was the re-discovery of artisan skills and techniques that have been on the verge of being lost. These are the skills that give all our luxury furniture collections such a tremendously high level of detailing and finish. I’m already back in the showroom (no rest for the wicked), taking all the fabulous ideas we’ve seen and working on our new exclusive collections. I can’t wait for you to see them all in our online shop and in the showroom.
Were you at Milan? What were your favourite trends and pieces?