By  on April 3, 2006

MILAN — Fashion designers are flocking to the furniture world more than ever.

At the Salone del Mobile exhibition, a string of fashion designers are launching collections and staging elaborate sets for some of the most renowned architects and furniture designers, who are expected to be among the 180,000 visitors at the 350 events held in and around Milan during the five-day show, which opens Wednesday. The furniture and design show will be held for the first time at the new Rho-Pero fairgrounds designed by Massimiliano Fuksas and located half an hour outside of Milan.

Bottega Veneta is launching its furniture line with pieces such as night tables with woven leather tops, while Versace is branching out with a new Home Couture line — an addition to the established Versace Home Collection. Creative director Donatella Versace said she "tried to focus mainly on [Versace's] logo, using it as leitmotif on everything."

Although the maison's iconic prints still play "an important role," Versace said they are not as focal to the Home Couture line. The designer, who will create a simulated home setting at Versace's Via Gesu' headquarters, said she used a lot of leather, both quilted and not, and a lot of fur and that she "went as far as embroidering" the house's Greek fret on fur cushions. As for the color palette, black and white are the "real key players of the collection, especially white."

Giorgio Armani will introduce his first kitchen system — a gradual expansion of the Casa line, as last year the designer presented the collection's first bathroom. Armani will also host a design exhibition by Zaha Hadid at his Tadao Ando-designed theater to mark the 10th anniversary of Wallpaper magazine. The event is promoted by EMAAR Properties, the designer's partner in his hotel venture in Dubai.

For the first time, Missoni will present its new "hospitality" concept — an extension of Missoni Casa created for the brand's hotel project, a licensing agreement with the Belgian hotel chain Rezidor SAS. The first Missoni hotel is expected to open in Edinburgh, Scotland, in 2007, followed by one in Dubai. Hospitality is a concept dear to Rosita Missoni, who designs the home line and who promises to bring the "joyful harmony" of it to the larger scale of hotel decor.A Ron Arad exhibition will take place at Dolce & Gabbana's new show location, the former Metropol cinema, and Fondazione Prada will present works by Tom Sachs. Tommy Hilfiger will hold a photo exhibition of six young American artists at its exhibition space, TH Inside, at the company's new Milan headquarters. Inspired by Surrealist photography, the exhibition will show works by Grant Worth and Roe Etheridge, among others. Hilfiger will also stage light installations by the Dutch designer Simon Heijdens.

At its Corso Genova store, Max Mara will present pieces designed by Fabrizio Iandiorio for the MBK skyscraper tower in Prague reproducing the concept of that building, created by Richard Meier & Partners, which will comprise apartments, restaurants and other public spaces. Meier will be at the event, to be held Friday, together with Rem Koolhaas. Sportmax will present works by Andrée Putman and Yves Behar at its Via Spiga store.

Hussein Chalayan, Gaetano Pesce, Ross Lovegrove, Basso & Brooke and Michael Gabbellini, among others, reworked the traditional chandelier for Swarovski, and their pieces will be on display throughout the Salone at the Tod's space in Via Savona. Once again, Valentino will showcase seats covered with iconic Valentino fabrics by Patricia Urquiola and Martino Berghinz at the designer's Via Montenapoleone boutique, and Krizia will show works by Ingo Maurer.

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