The latest trends from the Milan Furniture Fair 2011

Why not spruce up your home and garden by taking a few cues from the annual Milan Furniture Fair which took place last month. This year the mood in Milan was a festive one as the fair celebrated its 50th birthday. We had a fantastic couple of days there and at Lazy Susan we thought we could use the blog to offer some tips on how to recreate the significant trends that registered strongly with us in order to give your home the make-over it deserves. The world’s largest furniture fair, the annual Salone Internazionale del Mobile, took place in Milan this past April. The trade show has always been a source of inspiring design ideas for the garden and the home, and this year was no different. Here are some bold new trends and products that really impressed us.

One of the big things you couldn’t fail to pick up on at this years fair was the ‘power of colour’ and the use of bright colours on everything from textiles and moulded plastics to lacquered wood and metal finishes was all over the place. The use of vibrant colours such as red, orange and yellow seemed to this humble garden furniture company to almost be an optimistic reaction to the recessionary woes of the last couple of years. Introducing brighter hues is a natural result for celebration, putting aside the gloomy feel of the economic downturn. Some fine examples that grabbed our attention included Fritz Hansen’s new Favn sofa, by cult Spanish designer Jaime Hayon, which is available in 10 shades, including violet, mustard yellow and bright red.

At B&B Italia, the highly prolific Spanish designer Patricia Urquiola created the Husk lounge chair with tufted seats in red, orange and yellow. If your home or patio features mainly neutral tones like beiges, browns and greys, then to be on trend you should really consider adding some accent colours to liven the space up a little. Bright colours are refreshing on most tone-on-tone settings. With strong colours, a little goes a long way, so start small with cushions and occasional furniture, like side tables or footstools. If you’re more adventurous, splash out on a bold garden sofa, chair, parasol or table in single or multicoloured hues.

With the prevalence of sky gardens in new-generation high-rise flat developments, wraparound balconies in condominiums and floor-to-ceiling glass doors in landed homes, it’s become fashionable to lead a semi-outdoor lifestyle. Lazy Susan was really excited to see there was a massive trend towards outdoor furniture at this year’s fair (something its fair to say has been a little lacking in the past). There were companies that introduced outdoor versions of their existing furniture models, as well as new furniture designed for both indoor and outdoor use. Cassina, a brand not traditionally associated with outdoor furnishings, launched its first outdoor collection.

We saw some fantastic anchor pieces like sofas and daybeds to small complements like side tables and ottomans, with many designers recreating entire indoor settings for the outdoors. The message seemed clear to Lazy Susan that indoor and outdoor spaces are now treated as a single, fluid expanse, both functionally and aesthetically. Think about incorporating one or two outdoor elements to the mix. It should be easy to match the existing decor given the tremendous variety of styles and finishes available. Pieces in white synthetic fibre blend well with a modern Baroque scheme, for instance, while streamlined pieces in wood, sheet metal or moulded plastic complement a sleek, contemporary or industrial look.

The latest trends from the Milan Furniture Fair 2011

Patio furniture from the Spanish company Point was built for one person or one hundred, and their line of modular patio furniture offered both comfort and style. The LA Collection, designed by Robert Feo Rosario Hurtado (shown above) and London-based studio El Ultimo Grito, is another line of modular components including seats and loungers, that can be switched around and configured in many combinations. We also loved Bisazza who’ve re-invigorated the world of mosaic and worked with some edgy designers to refresh the art. Their designs were incorporated into some fantastic outdoor spaces, from museums to private projects on walls or other surfaces, including furniture and bespoke planters.

At Lazy Susan we have also long been a fan of the chairs and seating that Urquiola produces ever since I first laid eyes on the Tropicalia chair during Moroso‘s Little Wild Garden of Love a few years ago.  I was immediately taken with the way Urquiola used a selection of different materials and wove them onto the tubular steel frames to create a stunning graphical impact.  So it was with great anticipation that I awaited the launch of her latest chair, the Nub at this years Milan show, and we were not disappointed.  The Nub is a great addition to Urquiola’s design catalogue with its sleek metal leg frame and quaint wooden body constructed from lumpy spindles.

The latest trends from the Milan Furniture Fair 2011

Also impressive was the Koi chair (shown above), which I can only describe as a beautiful illusion. What at first looks to be stainless steel turns out to be thick wrought iron, dozens of arcs welded by hand into a stunning fish-scale pattern. The result manages to feel hefty and substantial yet look remarkably light, crazy really. It’s at once industrial and artisanal, tough yet elegant, simple but complex. The chair’s designer is Jarrod Lim, who worked for two years in the aforementioned Patricia Urquiola’s studio before starting out on his own. He said the inspiration for Koi was the humble wrought-iron gate design that was so ubiquitous in Singapore, where he now lives. Those hand-crafted iron pieces are being supplanted by machine-made aluminum gates, Lim said, so his intent is to revive the material, the design and the craft by translating the fish-scale pattern into outdoor furniture, finished with a teak seat and optional cushion. Lazy Susan for one is hooked!

Another effect of the global financial crisis and the prolonged recession was the return to simple forms, in contrast with outrageous designs seen say 8 years back. Many designs were turning back to basics and focusing on the simplicity of design and comfort.  Designers and manufacturers focused their efforts on producing soft, relaxed shapes that whispered, rather than shouted, their presence. Sofas, chaise longues and day beds featured plump upholstered seats, ample backrests and ergonomic contours. Both Poltrona Frau and Cappellini showed pared down models of sofas and lounge chairs. The adage “buy less, but better” holds true, so look for hallmarks of quality, such as the type of material used, level of comfort and grade of finishing. Once introduced to your home, a high-quality, understated piece can be enjoyed for many years to come.

The latest trends from the Milan Furniture Fair 2011 was last modified: by