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Clerkenwell Design Week is on the horizon, with BCN Design Week, Maison et Objet and London Design Festival following closely behind. And this April is home to the 57th edition of Salone del Mobile Milano, one of the world’s largest interior design shows on 17 to 22 April.
The event will drive more than 300,000 eager design lovers to the streets of Milan to get the first look at the new launches from more than 2,500 of the most iconic international brands. But, with so many creative firms exhibiting, what should we be on the look-out for in particular? Below is a list of just some of my picks to help plan your visit to Salone del Mobile 2018.
Alessi X Marcel Wanders
Launching in Milan this year is a collaboration that works so seamlessly, one might wonder how it hasn’t come about sooner. Although design brand Alessi and Dutch designer Marcel Wanders have worked together on previous collections of serveware and kitchen utensils, the pair have now come together to create an unprecedented collection of home fragrances.
The Five Seasons, as the collection will be known, is an entirely new chapter in Alessi’s history, which celebrates design as a multi-sensory experience. The collection is split into five fragrances in ornate, naturally-inspired receptacles, representing not just the four traditional seasons, but also a scent to capture the transcendence between them.
Alessi’s roots in anthropomorphism are redirected to personification in the new collaboration, with each fragrance donning a name to denote a human reaction. Brr, Ahh, Hmm and Grr are fragrances named after and designed with respect to winter, spring, summer and autumn. Shh, however, is the name given to the scent that encapsulates the temporal nature of the eternal cycle of the seasons.
To get a better feel for the new collection, I spoke with Marcel Wanders himself about his design process and working with Alessi.
You have worked with Alessi on various projects in the past – what made you want to work on another project with the iconic brand?
Since its beginning, Alessi has been the standard for excellence. Therefore, when we wanted to create something that would transport people emotionally and spiritually, we knew we wanted to work with a partner that could handle complexity and create with absolute integrity. We continue to collaborate because they are open to innovation, to take this sensory experience to another level.
What makes Salone del Mobile such a great platform for launching collections such as The Five Seasons?
Above all, Salone is an emotional experience. It’s not just a showcase. It is an entire community connecting creativity with innovation, making it the perfect setting to present a sensory experience to the world.
The exhibit is as much about revealing new designs as it is placing the spotlight on the designer and the brand with which they are collaborating. During Salone, there is a tangible feeling of reverence for the investment that creative people make to become the best they can be at their craft.
This event is always a celebration of forward thinking and transformative design. It makes all the sense in the world to launch our fragrance collection here.
Is your design process for the collaboration as organic as the leaves and shapes that The Five Seasons depicts, or do you have a more deliberate approach?
Our design process is a mix of organic daydreaming and deliberate thought. Starting out, we want to get as much input as we can. We study and learn, and dialogue with others. I can’t say it is calculated, but certainly there is some forethought.
At some point, though, you have to let creativity and free association lead the process. It sounds counterintuitive, but there are times that you have to take your mind off of the design and let yourself be inspired. Creativity is inherently organic. You let ideas build upon the last idea and so on, allowing your thoughts to meander and find their way back to the assignment. I am therefore a nurturer, guiding the process – without expectation or restriction.
These fragrances are complex scents, and to make them authentic required a great deal of precision. Yet, everything surrounding the aromas – from packaging to the design of the diffusers – is the result of brainstorming and inspiration.
Why is multi-sensory experience so important in design? Is fragrance a new, vital dimension for contemporary interior design?
Experiences that connect with all five senses make everything more meaningful. When the physical sensation blends with your emotional reaction, the design experience becomes complete. Being presented with a robust, layered sensation makes the relationship one has with what they are seeing and feeling exponentially richer.
These fragrances create a dimension that transports the soul to another place in time. Our memories are tied to our sense of smell, and these fragrances deliver you to all the seasons of your life that are familiar, and yet at the same time, are new all over again.
Dedar’s 2018 collection was shot with such confidence, style and cool effortlessness that its new collection launching at Salone is a definite landmark showroom next week on Via Fiori Chiari. Unctuous, flash-flooded, high saturation photography of fabrics and upholstered pieces paired with the faded grandeur of gold-leafed, ornate plasterwork, cane, terrazzo and marble is a recipe for success.
A fully functional string home is now a possibility (String furniture )
The new collection will continue on this highly decorative route as Dedar introduces digital prints of some of the Italian textile designer’s best-loved designs on fabrics with new, highly technical qualities. The new fabrics will ensure that the timeless designs will not fade, are resistant to stains and boast an abrasion resistance of over 100,000 rubs.
String, a leading Swedish home brand specialising in shelving solutions will also be exhibiting at the show. Much like its display at the Stockholm Furniture Fair, the brand is creating a “string home” to demonstrate the versatility of string furniture for use in every room in the house.
From the introduction of a warm, sophisticated and sleek smoked oak shelving option to the launch of functional new add-ons such as wine glass racks, coat hooks, and desk accessories, a fully functional string home is now a possibility.
Hastens, another iconic Swedish homewares manufacturer, is celebrating 40 years of its iconic blue check bed. A defining pattern for the brand, the blue check was reimagined in a 2017 collaboration with Swedish design duo Bernadotte and Kylberg at Salone del Mobile.
This year, Hastens is building on this collaboration at the design show to create a special anniversary bed and brand new bed linen designs. The new launch will see the Hastens Marwari bed take on the sumptuous tones of a rich, warm brown linen, which, according to chief executive Jan Ryde, “pays a genuine tribute to the blue check”. Both the reworked check bed and the linen will be on display at the Milan stand.
For those off to Milan next week, remember: flat shoes, stamina, patience and your passport are the only absolute necessities. For the rest, see you on Instagram for #SaloneDelMobile2018.