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.

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