April 18, 2013
Milan: The interiors of the future

Between 9 and 14 April took place in Milan the Salone Internazionale del Mobile. Around 300.000 inhabitants of 160 different countries have walked by more than its 530.00 metres squared and close to 2.000 participating companies. With these figures it is normal that it is considered the most important fair worldwide within furniture sector. Moreover, this year, at the same fairground, biennial fairs of Euroluce and SaloneUficcio have coincided, dedicated to lighting and office furniture respectively. This year the fair was presented with the slogan of Interiors of tomorrow, which, the way I see it, was seen nowhere. What has been showed with iSalone is that fairs are not worth without its stars, which it seems that has been discovered by big companies of furniture and lighting sector. There was no big company not presenting some product by a star designer. For example, Kartell presented a large stand similar to Taj Mahal with shop windows, each of them dedicated to its great recruits (Patricia Urquiola, Philippe Starck, Nendo, Konstantin Grcic...). And the same as Kartell, other companies like Morosso, Magis, Danesse or Cossina among others provided as a solution for the future products created by its great designers; that is, famed elitist design as a solution to get out of the crisis. But the most peculiar case is the one of the Swiss company Vitra, that besides what has been said (in this case with Bouroullec brothers and Hella Jongerius) 80% of what it presented at the exhibition were its great classics (Jean Prouvé and the Eames), that have been redesigned in its materials, colours and variations, as a great contribution. Moreover, it seems like big brands have bet on the realization of sculptural pieces as a tool to get out of the crisis, products which we do not know whether they are mass-produced or catwalk products produced in limited edition intended for the most elitist side of product design. As has been the usual practice, at the same fairground took place the SaloneSatellite where young designers younger than 35 years old are exhibited. This year it was presented under the motto Craftwork and design: together for industry. In this exhibition we could see more innovative and interesting products than in its big brother’s exhibition although inside SaloneSatellite all products follow the same line, products regulated by the fashion of "eco-design-sexy" in which it seems that only is allowed to use wood without lacquer or paint, cork and steel with pastel white, green or blue lacquer. The way I see it, as a visitor and design professional, the most interesting thing of the design week in Milan is happening at the city neighbourhoods, specifically at Brera, Ventura / Lambrate and, above all, at Tortona. Parties around design and art, workshops, products launches, installations, pop-up stores, talks and showrooms of the most prestigious firms are organized, and studios open its doors to the public and museums dedicated to design are free during all the week. Here is where multicultural and multidisciplinary synergies are formed that create the breeding ground for future products, providing, the way I see it, many more stimulus than the Salone Internazionale del Mobile itself. It is very interesting to see how Milan transforms during a week into the great theatre of design, where we can see the best and the worse of this art. I encourage product, interior and multidisciplinary integration design students to let themselves fall into this great city during two or three days during the next fairs, you will not regret it.