Milan 2017

Posted on April 27, 2017 by Judith Archer

Saloni di mobile
FABRICS - colour

Colours - greens - from muted olive(Twills) to rich deep tones ( Moooi) , ink & 'Royal or electric blue', monochrome, tone on tone - rose & red, powder blue and teals. ALSO metallic tones in velvet, copper bronze gold (Walter Knoll)and even silver (Comforty)
Soft pastels at the more lux end eg. 'Sé, Diesel, Moroso, Poltrana Frau

FABRICS - quality
Lots of velvets; combinations of textured weaves - and velvets; dimensional fabrics - quilting & ribbed still have traction
Jumbo knotted and woven constructions
Washed linens on loose cover
Sheepskin all over on accent pieces

FABRICS - pattern
Strong botanical themes.
Geometric - Memphis style prints and weaves. Monochrome, bold primary and pastel examples - Kartel, 
Updated floral - combining geometric with pretty elements - Paola Nirvona
Some strong '70's bold patterns crossing over with Art Deco influences?
Quite a lot of novelty imagery too - giant insects or beetles, photo realistic imagery of architecture or animals 

LEATHER
Metal tones - copper, bronze, brass, gold & silver
Luxurious nubuck in ginger, tans, & greys - Flexform, Baxter
Muted pastel tones on aniline hides at the higher end - particularly green shades.
Walter Knoll, Poltranau Frau, Cassina, Minotti
Very little dark brown evident here - black is back? Works in the monochrome trend direction 
Some embossing and perforated leathers ( Baxter, B&B Italia, Poltrana Frau).

FURNITURE DESIGN
Pillow edge details abound - seats and backs, and whole sofas - becoming deconstructed.
High leg still predominate but more examples - particularly at the higher end, go to the ground
Exposed & external wood or metal frames, around or under upholstery. This could be a detail - Natuzzi, Ercol, Calia, Flexform Fendi, Minotti or complete frames with drop in cushions - Bonaldo, Flexform, Diesel- with an industrial aesthetic. 
Coloured metal details - all the fashion colours, including bronze, copper, brass, gold, rose gold & silver.
Curved sofas and chairs, both subtle refined '30's influenced shapes Fama, Sé, Giorgetti, Mood, Moroso, and bolder, chunkier forms eg. Baxter, Calia, Edra, Caligaris etc
Still lots of buttoning detail, structured, and deconstructed - soft tucks & pulls. 
Buttoning details on complete shapes & even just on cushions
Exaggerated shapes on accent chairs. Very high back, extra wide (rocking chairs), or dramatic taper front to back or asymmetric details.
Multifunctional pieces, flexible by modularity, (Tom Dixon for IKEA), by clever function - ratchet backs and arms ( Cassina, Calia, Edra, Rolf Benz etc)
Or flexible shapes - asymmetric chairs allowing a variety of seating positions, including chaise longe derivatives 
- and of course a whole host of sofa beds - good bad & ugly.....

CONCLUSION
Probably not the most ground breaking of years, despite much trend forecasting talking of space saving and versatility. This was not particularly evident other than in some novelty pieces, student projects, and the disappointing Dixon/ IKEA collaboration. 

Flexibility and space saving is a great asset but not if it limits the primary function of a design.

Form before function can in itself create an attractive brutal aesthetic, but too often multifunction pieces are not truly that, and also become unattractive.
Their seams a gulf between the high end upholstery manufacturers using the best of all materials, - wood, metal, fabrics & leather, and the 'mass manufacturers' who are stifled by rising manufacturing and raw material costs. Not just in Milan but around most of the shows this year there is much repetition of shape & generic fabrics & mediocre leather.

But there always some gems and they often are found in unexpected places - be it the wonderfully crafted faceted desk by a Polish student (exhibiting with a group of colleges from that country - where were the British colleges by the way??) or the unique & inspiring presentations by Sé in their elegent crumbly corner of Rossana Orlandi, & the luxurious Baxter Cinema, illuminated by the waterfall video cascading down the entrance staircase, and rich in foliage & luxurious leather pieces


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