By  on April 21, 2005

MILAN — As if there wasn’t enough evidence already, the latest Salone del Mobile proved that fashion designers are becoming even more serious about the home.

The six-day furniture and design exhibition, which closed here Monday, offered home collections by fashion designers from Armani to Alexander McQueen and also marked designers’ entrances into several categories, including more furniture, lighting and even bathroom accessories.

At Giorgio Armani, forget the solid wengé tables and minimalist design of the early Casa stages. The designer showed a more glamorous and sophisticated collection than usual, almost an echo of his foray into couture this January. Armani displayed a focused selection of luxurious pieces inspired by Art Deco, Surrealism and the Orient — all with a Twenties twist and Armani’s passion for black-and-white cinematography.

“You could almost see Jean Harlow walk in with a satin slip, no?” quipped the designer at his presentation in his Tadao Ando-designed theater in Milan. While maintaining a restrained hand, Armani explored black and red lacquered surfaces, showed sleek satin sofas with black lacquered armrests and cocktail bars with ceramic and wood chessboard mosaics. “I feel I’m still experimenting [with this line],” said the designer. “My first collection was more massive, now it’s more feminine — after all, women buy most of the furniture.”

Five years into the Casa division, Armani showed product families, such as a sofa with a love seat or a chaise longue, for example, and introduced categories such as lamp shades, carpets made by Nepalese artisans and brown oak bathroom accessories. “My staff was all against me venturing into the bathroom category, but, in the end, I believe this is one of the most important rooms, it’s where you really check yourself out,” said the designer, who last week opened a Casa store on Via Manzoni, across from his own megastore on the same street, which also hosts a Casa corner.

Versace also introduced lighting elements, which were placed strategically against new baroque, intricately carved silver- or bronze-framed mirrors. A company spokesman highlighted the artisanal craftsmanship of the collection. Case in point: Versace’s historical Vanitas chair was introduced in a limited-edition teak wood model. “Teak is one of the toughest woods to mold and bend,” said the spokesman. The seat was upholstered with an allegorical sea motif print and the teak was waxed with whale oil so that it is suited for the outdoors — a new category for Versace this year. The company also showed wicker and banana-wood sofas and armchairs.

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