This year at the Salone del Mobile in Milan – or furniture fair as we non-Italian speakers like to call it – the industry's big names seemed cautious about investing in the new. Instead, there were updates and variations to existing lines, such as the rainbow of shades (curated by Hella Jongerius) added to the classic Eames aluminium chair at Vitra. Colour mirrored this summer's fashion trends – soft 1950s hues appeared again and again – and metallic was also a theme.
It was a good year for the Brits. Architect David Adjaye showed his chair for Knoll in fresh colours and a copper finish. The award-winning duo Barber Osgerby (of Olympic torch and £2 coin fame) presented pieces at Knoll, Vitra and B&B Italia, while architect Nigel Coates created modular sofas and armchairs for Fornasetti. Milan stalwart Tom Dixon took his new wares to the official fairground this year for the first time, and showed gold versions of his mirror-ball light, as well as a vast brass table, while Sarah Lucas presented MDF and breezeblock utilitarian-style furniture in a pop-up Sadie Coles gallery space.
The biggest smiles were to be had at the Wallpaper* Handmade exhibition, which teams designers and manufacturers together for one-off collaborations. If the glow-in-the-dark wallpaper by LA designers The Haas Brothers and Flavor Paper didn't do it for you, there were always the blown glass (ahem) sex toys by Jeff Zimmerman and Michael Reynolds.
Olympic Vanity Table by Nika Zupanc for Sé
In her first collection for the UK-based brand, Sé, Slovenian designer Nika Zupanc's 10 pieces (with five more to follow) shown at the beautiful Spazio Rosanna Orlandi retail and gallery space, had a decidedly retro-meets-modern-luxury sensibility – her vanity table was a particular high point. Soft sorbet shades and rounded shapes to sofas, tables, lights and cabinets, brought to mind a light femininity without ever feeling girlie. "I wanted to blend elegance and sensitivity with a determined, almost masculine spirit," Zupanc explains. "I took inspiration from the forms and shapes of the 1950s as well as motifs from sport, for example while the metal legs and the table top of the Olympia Vanity table are very minimalist, the mirrors recall the Olympic rings, bringing with them the sense of drama and power we associate with sport."
Prices start from £6,830 se-london.com
Solid Patterns by Scholten + Baijings for J Hill's Standard
There's something so satisfying about a good back-story to make you appreciate the design even more. Hence we love the new Waterford-based company J Hill's Standard for flying the Irish flag for preserving the craft of hand-cut crystal. For founder, Anike Tyrrell, its been a labour of love, four years in the making. "Our aim was to revive a dying industry. We have two cutters left, both 65-years-old, so now we're employing apprentices to keep this tradition alive." Starting with two collections, by Martino Gamper and also Scholten + Baijings, the plan was to work with people not used to the material to bring a fresh approach and a new eye. "I wanted designers to make it less precious, to examine the material from a fresh perspective," explains Tyrrell. The results are beautiful. The Solid Patterns collection by Dutch duo Scholten + Baijings has been subjected to up to four processes to create their crystal glass collection.
Prices start from £100 for the Martino Gamper collection and £135 for Scholten + Baijings jhillstandard.com
Jellies Family by Patricia Urquiola for Kartell
This year, super-brand Kartell was celebrating 65 years, so they decided to return to roots and reintroduce tableware. My favourite was by prolific, Spanish-born, Italian based, Patricia Urquiola, which, for plastic, looked surprisingly luxurious and intricate. Her Jellies Family collection, which launches early in 2015 has that lovely indoor-outdoor quality to it and seeing as we're all about colour, that ties in rather nicely as its available in amber, green, pink and light blue. "Jellies is a 3-D coloured world for the table," explains Urquiola. "The look and touch bring cut crystal to mind. They work equally well inside or outdoors, they're not afraid of rain or tumbles. Also they look good all one colour or nicely mixed up."
There are no retail prices available until later this year kartell.com
Rabari rugs by Doshi Levien for Nanimarquina
The Indian-British husband-and-wife team of Nipa Doshi and Jonathan Levien, who are known for their love of textiles, colour and pattern and work for brands such as Moroso and BD Barcelona, have designed a series of four rugs for Spanish rug specialist, Nanimarquina, which celebrate Indian tribal folk embroidery. Hand-knotted and hand-woven from New Zealand wool each one has taken weeks to make by the women of the Nomadic Rabari tribal community in India and features colourful motifs and light-as-air metallics. "We began by looking at their different embroidery techniques," explains Nipa Doshi. "The results feel like a sketch of all of the methods used by the Ravaris. We wanted to capture the embroidery process so the rug almost doesn't feel finished, like a study."
Rugs are made to order nanimarquina.com
Mollo chair by Philippe Malouin for Established & Sons
One of the new generation of design darlings, Canadian Philippe Malouin, who studied at the prestigious Design Academy Eindhoven, has had a busy few years creating for Tom Dixon, Kvadrat and 1882 Ltd among others. His new Mollo chair for the 10-year-old British producers, Established & Sons, looks deceptively simple and robust, but cleverly avoids using rigid structure and instead is made entirely from varying densities of foam. "The shape of the Mollo came about while experimenting with flat polyurethane foam sheets," says Malouin. "After making many models, we made a discovery while making a foam tube and curling it. We made three small stitches on the model and it created the seat, while elevating the backrest and armrests, giving it its plump shape." Malouin then went on to refine it and upholster in velvet. A sofa version will also be available from September.
Prices from £3,600 establishedandsons.com
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