MILAN — Go big — and take it home.
Large-scale furniture crafted from precious materials appeared to be the most appealing product category for international big spenders flocking to Salone del Mobile, the six-day design and furnishing trade show here that closed Sunday.
Case in point: Bottega Veneta’s expansive BV Tre modular seating set, displayed at the company’s frescoed store in an 18th-century palazzo. Reflecting the high-end craftsmanship of the brand, Bottega Veneta combined multiple leather manufacturing techniques on a range of fringed suede sofas and armchairs presented in a chic gray tone or soft pink hue. A new rectangular red travertine marble table was also in line with the luxurious tone of the collection.
“I like working in interior design because it actually takes a long time to conceive and produce a single piece,” said Bottega Veneta creative director Tomas Maier. “It’s an incredibly slower process compared to fashion, which is becoming faster and faster…It’s relaxing, in a way.”
For the second time, the company teamed with artist Osanna Visconti di Modrone, who realized three cylindrical lighting pieces re-creating the label’s signature intrecciato texture on bronze.
Newness hit visitors at the sprawling Armani Casa store, previously home to De Padova, as Giorgio Armani explored strong colors and lightness. “It’s a reaction to my last collection, which had a lot of beige and neutral colors,” said the designer, whose home line marks its 18th anniversary this year.
India was an inspiration for Armani, who showed the latest pieces among high vertical panels covered in rich fabrics in vibrant colors, from deep red and indigo to green and blue petroleum. Asked about the industry, the designer said he believes it needs “a shakeup and a revision,” avoiding a tendency to look back to “a past that is not useful. We must reinvent a way of living with more schematic shapes. We must think of items that can be enjoyed in 30, 40 years, too. There is a need for comfort, which is often forgotten.”
Armani said it took him years to gain credibility in the home industry and that he “disowned” some of his first designs. For the first time, he combined American walnut wood and Plexiglass, as in the Net coffee table with a checkered pattern or in the two-tier trolley Novello. A standout was also the Norigami, a coffee table with modules that can be arranged as in an origami game. Armani also unveiled a small collection of loungewear pieces for men and women.
At the Rho-Pero fairgrounds, the flamboyant Versace Home collection paid tribute to the heritage of the fashion house, specifically to the historical Palazzo Versace on Milan’s Via Gesù. The facade of the building was reproduced on ceramic dining sets, worked both in pink and light blue, while the brand’s signature Medusa logo stood out on most of the pieces showcased. Highlights included the VT1 sofa, which mixed black leather with velvet printed with a baroque pattern designed by Gianni Versace in 1992. The motif was also recreated on a mosaic made by Fantini, embellishing the top of a black table or bed linens, pillows, towels, bathrobes and home accessories. In addition, the Vanitas chair — one of the first styles introduced in the home line by Gianni Versace — was reinterpreted with a metal-mesh covered seat. Versace also introduced a line of office furniture.
Hermès worked with Paris-based artist Nigel Peake on a tableware set with a childlike, graphic drawing, which was also reinterpreted for a cashmere, embroidered cushion embellishing the Karumi outdoor bench crafted from carbon fiber and bamboo. Hermès, which showcased its home and lifestyle collection with an installation at Milan’s historic La Permanente museum featuring seven cubic structures covered in Moroccan-inspired multicolor tiles, expanded its “Équipage d’Hermès” collection with the Vice-versa table that combined wood, rattan and leather, along with the Bouchon stool covered in orange leather and featuring a base in cork, a new material for the brand.
Raffaella Vignatelli, chief executive officer of Luxury Living, one of Italy’s leading interior design manufacturing companies, which produces and distributes for the likes of Fendi, Trussardi, Bentley and Bugatti, explained that “every year, when we start designing a new collection, we sit down and we imagine our potential customers.”
Vignatelli said the group’s final clients are people aged between 35 and 45 people and the biggest percentage of them live in China. “They buy when they are at home but at the same time they have started making a lot of purchases when they are abroad, in Los Angeles, New York, London and Milan. They are very different form their parents, they have a different type of culture, they are more open-minded and they look for exclusivity,” he said.
The company will unveil the first Baccarat Maison collection at the next edition of Parisian trade show Maison&Objets in January.
While the Bentley license, introduced six years ago, is the fastest growing one in the group, Fendi Casa, which celebrates its 30th anniversary this year, represents the lion’s share of Luxury Living’s business, which generated revenues of over 125 million euros in 2017, up 5 percent compared to 2016. Established in 1988 by Anna Fendi and Alberto Vignatelli, Raffaella’s father, who died in December, Fendi was the first fashion label to develop a full interior design brand, which has a freestanding store, inaugurated last year, on Milan’s Via Montenapoleone. There, the brand unveiled a new made-to-order capsule collection designed by French architect and designer Thierry Lemaire, which included the impressive Beaune table, combing a monolithic white panda marble surface with a bronze metal base.
At its extensive booth at the fairgrounds, Fendi Casa celebrated the brand’s Roman tradition with its combination of marble and wood panels and focused on a sophisticated palette of neutrals matched with dusty tones. Among the highlights, the brand showed the new minimal One Sofa featuring a single, long cushion, and unveiled a new, innovative home theater set-up.
Separately, Fendi also teamed with Parma-based manufacturer SCIC for the launch of the first Fendi Cucine line, which debuted with two home professional kitchens designed by Marco Costanzi, Fendi’s longtime go-to architect. The more masculine and rigorous Kurkum kitchen island is crafted from stainless steel and is embellished with elegant satin finishing, while the more feminine Ginger model features a sophisticated combination of marble and metal.
According to Vignatelli, the Trussardi Casa home line is also growing, especially in Europe, Italy and China. “The goal is to make the brand more popular in America, where it’s quite unknown,” said Vignatelli.
Geometric designs are at the core of Trussardi Casa’s latest collection. Conceived by architect Carlo Colombo, the range combined leather paneling with mirrored surfaces and featured natural, earthy shades, such as sand, hazelnut and dove, with hints of green and yellow. Standout pieces included the Happ sofa, a modular, minimalist sofa and pouf in light gray fabric upholstery completed with all-over logoed quilted cushions, and the Anabel linear chair, featuring a plain leather seat engraved with the Trussardi’s signature greyhound logo and contrasting backrest externally covered in anthracite leather.
Along with operating direct stores in Milan, Los Angeles, Miami and New York, where the brand expects to revamp its Madison Avenue showroom by 2019, Vignatelli said that Luxury Living is finalizing a franchising project in the Middle and Far East with its own banner.
A similar retail strategy is in the pipeline for Etro, which unveiled its Etro Home Interiors collection internally designed by the brand and produced under license by Italian manufacturer Jumbo Group for the first time.
“A lot of showrooms are asking us to open franchised stores,” said Jacopo Etro, home, textile and accessories creative director at the family-owned company, adding that the firm wanted to create a collection which, reflecting the spirit of the brand, isn’t focused on the peculiar needs of specific markets but has an international appeal.
The Milan-based firm, which has always been linked with the world of interiors through its textile business, presented a full range at Salone del Mobile for the first time, including two living rooms, a dining room and a bedroom. The boho-chic, nomadic aesthetic of the brand echoed in the choice of the materials, spanning from velvet and paisley silk to straw and Prince of Wales patterns, all worked in rich and warm colors.
Through its JC Passion division, Jumbo Group also produces and distributes the Roberto Cavalli Home line, which was showcased in a 5,382-square-foot booth at the fairgrounds. With a tropical inspiration that translated into vivid, eye-catching prints, the range included five living rooms, two dining rooms and two bedrooms combining classic tones of beige and gray with vibrant citron green, in addition to exotic patterns, banana leaf motifs and zebra prints.
In addition, key pieces of the linen collection manufactured by Caleffi for the brand included lightweight silk satin printed with the “Charlize” motif featuring tone-on-tone gray palms and new cashmere and velvet blankets. A mix-and-match approach was key in the tableware range, produced and distributed under license by Compagnia Italiana del Cristallo Srl. The standout piece was a limited edition of plates featuring platinum drawings of exotic animals on a black tropical background.
A photographic trip to Mexico, which included a visit to the studio of Diego Rivera, laid the foundations for the latest collection for the brand said Andrea Rosso, creative director of Diesel Living. In collaboration with Mirabello Carrara, the linen line reproduced jungle motifs or impressions of the desert, as well as street art and urban graffiti. With Scavolini, Diesel presented the Open Workshop kitchen with modular metallic structures made of iron with an industrial twist. Glass doors came in aluminum or smoked glass with black mesh. With Moroso, the Iron Maiden indoor and outdoor collection included a linear and light brushed stainless steel frame, powder coated in a deep blue or sand pink with contrasting black bolts, and a coffee table with table tops in Alicrite, or methacrylate and Corian. All surfaces and prints had chiaroscuro, textured and matte surfaces. Rosso said the company is “taking a step in the direction of hospitality” and evaluating interior design projects for apartments. “There is an interest in marrying the Diesel esthetic,” he explained.
Modern and colorful graphics and gold detailing defined Richard Ginori’s new colorful “Totem” tableware collection, addressing younger customers. This will be available at the brand’s revamped online store, which was relaunched during Milan Design Week and features a new layout and more user-friendly technology.
“Since our industry is not so modern, we don’t have great expectations in terms of sales. But at the same time, through our web site and the e-commerce, we expect to reach a different clientele and increase our brand awareness globally,” said Richard Ginori chairman and ceo Giovanni Giunchedi. Shipments for online purchases will be available only in Italy for the moment as the executive favors a careful approach because “the world of e-commerce is not only about the product but service is essential, so we don’t want to do missteps.”
Acquired by Gucci in 2013, the company operates three stores between Milan and Florence and counts sales points in the U.S., Russia, South Korea and mainly in Japan. In keeping with its manufacturing heritage, the brand also presented a precious ceramic centerpiece, which is a re-edition of the “Table triumph for Italy’s embassies” artwork developed in the Twenties by architect Gio Ponti for the Italian Minister of Foreign Affairs. The exclusive creation will be available in a limited number of three pieces retailing at 150,000 euros each.
Launched last year with a collection of tableware and linens embellished with archival prints, La DoubleJ Housewives expanded its home range, partnering with three Italian companies and launching a pop-up store during Milan Design Week. Teaming with Italian porcelain and ceramic producer Ancap, the brand developed a series of plates, espresso cups, mugs and serving trays.
“I always start with vintage prints, that’s what I’m all about, and I found one that had a bunch of insects on it. But instead of doing insects all over, we just took one motif from that — the dragonfly,” said the brand’s creative director J.J. Martin about the key design of the range. In addition, maximalist mix-and-match dessert plates featured colorful graphics “inspired by the floor of Italian palazzos.”
Partnering with Venetian glassmaker Salviati, the brand launched two series of Murano glasses. The first, high-end one was a re-edition of six limited-edition historic, ornamental-stemmed goblets from the 19th century, named Tipetti. Handcrafted and made to order, every piece is hand numbered, certified and priced at $4,900. The other, more-affordable series was made of color-blocked, stem-less wine glasses and a carafe.
For furniture, La DoubleJ brought its colorful touch to a range of the most recognizable pieces from Italian industrial design company Kartell, which also celebrated Milan Design Week with a new, long-term project to engage younger customers. Named “Crossing Generation,” the program involved local and international personalities to reinterpret the company’s archival pieces with their vision.
“In new generations there are design-passionate people who [know] the Kartell world and are enthusiastic about it: the goal is to enhance this bond and offer them different interpretive cues,” said Kartell’s marketing and retail director Lorenza Luti. “This doesn’t mean necessarily creating specific products…We want to spotlight the energy of new generations, which is completely aligned with Kartell’s transformative, smart and dynamic soul.”
Among the projects showcased at Kartell’s main flagship in central Milan were installations curated by fashion designer Marcelo Burlon and artist Ignasi Monreal, who has recently paired with Gucci on a number of projects. The former highlighted the customization trend by covering Kartell’s furniture pieces with the logo of his Marcelo Burlon County of Milan brand, while the latter was inspired by youth’s need to communicate and “leave a mark” in developing the graffiti-inspired Scratch Me installation. “I liked the idea of this gesture of public spontaneity and I wanted to bring it in the personal environment of a home,” said Monreal, who scratched with a key the surfaces of Kartell’s Ghost collection of transparent plastic furniture to leave words and marks “enhanced by the contrast with the background.”