MILAN — Salone del Mobile has been taking over Milan, burnishing its reputation as a must-see fair and firing up countless parallel events and design projects throughout the city.
It’s no wonder, since lately consumer spending on home furnishings and related products has been outpacing fashion. That’s also why a number of fashion brands are taking furniture even more seriously. Giorgio Armani, Versace, Fendi, Bottega Veneta, Roberto Cavalli, Etro, Hermès and Diesel were some of the thousands of companies that showed home interior collections this week during the annual furniture and design fair, which closed Sunday. These designers are increasingly building their home businesses, offering authentic and on-brand collections that dovetail with their respective runways and store decor rather than any particular home furnishings trend.
Versace this week revealed that it had taken its home collection in-house as it seeks to build the category and bring it in line with the clothing and accessories offer. It has inked two exclusive manufacturing relationships — Cassina Contract for the furniture and Nemo for lighting. The textile collection was already being produced and distributed by Versace.
“To bring Versace Home in-house is a natural step forward to pursue our strategy to increase and further develop the company. Versace Home is an important asset for the brand and will improve its potential in-house,” said Gian Giacomo Ferraris, chief executive officer of Versace. With regard to the home collection, Versace will now be responsible for everything from the creative process — which begins with Donatella Versace — to sales and distribution through retail stores, franchise channels and authorized dealers.
The brand clearly sees home products as a powerful revenue stream as it eyes an initial public offering in the medium-term. Last month, Versace confirmed it was on track for an IPO, at some point within the next three to five years. In the 2015 fiscal year, it notched double-digit growth in profits and sales and said its stores would continue to be an engine for growth.
Versace Home made its debut in 1992 with a collection of textiles and later expanded to include furniture and other interiors elements, all formerly under license. The company’s home collection ranges from indoor and outdoor furniture to handmade mosaic floors and fantastical wallpaper.
Among the highlights on Versace’s stand at the Milan fairgrounds in Rho, Italy, last week was the Mesedia chair, which is made of climate-proof aluminum and has a round shape, recalling the brand’s Medusa logo. It’s designed for outdoors and comes in a range of punchy colors, including deep purple and orange, that recall a mid-summer sunset. Wallpaper came with a banana leaf pattern or with floating seashells, while pillows were covered in abstract jacquard animal prints. There were mosaic floors created by Fantini, whose clients also include Fondazione Prada, Hermès and the presidential palace in Abu Dhabi. The mosaic patterns can be customized for Versace clients.
Versace also offered up porcelain and silk fabrics in a pastel palette with patterns inspired by the sea; tables with carbon fiber tops, and soft leather chairs with subtle straps and logos that recalled the brand’s accessories. A standout was the Via Gesù Palazzo Empire sofa, done in sky blue nubuck leather.
Fendi, meanwhile, has been upping its game with home collection partner Luxury Living. This year it showcased its most sophisticated collection yet. As with Versace, the soul of the brand was ever-present and the designs modern and in keeping with the aesthetics of the house.
There were Fendi lamps adorned with long fur — resembling the brand’s fluffy pom-poms and keychains; subtle piping on sofas that recalled the brand’s Selleria, or saddlery collection; tables made from macassar and marble; sofas covered in hound’s tooth fabric, and a sleek caramel colored club chair hand-picked by the brand’s chairman and ceo Pietro Beccari. The chair was originally created by the Italian designer Guglielmo Ulrich in the Thirties for the austere, Fascist-era EUR, or Esposizione Universale Roma, buildings in Rome. The chair is part of a capsule collection of Fendi furniture based on Ulrich’s designs, which will be installed at Fendi’s newly inaugurated headquarters in Rome’s Palazzo della Civiltà Italiana in EUR. Other pieces will be sold by Fendi Casa as part of the Icons Collection.
“This project marks another significant step for Fendi in the design world,” Beccari said. “We are honored to celebrate Gugliemo Ulrich, who has written the history of design with his simple yet disruptive aesthetics.”
Beccari added that Fendi Casa has always been “a tangible statement of our true passion for design over the years.”
Roberto Cavalli’s new creative director Peter Dundas added his own rock ‘n’ roll, bohemian take on the founding elements of the brand’s home collection, first launched in 2011. The two main themes were the “Musician’s Home,” and “Bohemian Glam,” with a Seventies, hippy vibe. At the brand’s Via Montenapoleone flagship, long-haired fur pillows and bronzed mink plaids were strewn over crushed velvet sofas; the new Golden Flowers decor embellished tableware and linens contrasted with shiny black glass vases and metallic golden table lamps. The Roberto Cavalli Home collection includes collaborations with six partners: JC Passion for furniture; Industrie Emiliana Parati for wallpaper; Gruppo Ceramiche Ricchetti for ceramics; Mirabello Carrara for bed, bath and table linen; La Murrina for Murano glass lamps and glass objects, and Arnolfo di Cambio — Compagnia Italiana del Cristallo for the art de la table.
Diesel presented its new Diesel Open Workshop Kitchen and Bathroom with Scavolini, lighting products with Foscarini, furniture with Moroso, home accessories with Seletti and wooden flooring with Berti. This year, Diesel Living also launched a collaboration with Iris Ceramica, adding ceramic tiles for floor and wall coverings.
Just how serious this business is can also be perceived by the fact that most of these brands have stores in Milan dedicated to their home collections. Armani presented his new Casa collection at his new 14,040-square-foot space — formerly occupied by Milanese design firm De Padova — that will host the brand’s new flagship due to open in the fall. Tomas Maier unveiled the new Bottega Veneta collection, which also includes a collection of tables in collaboration with Osanna Visconti di Modrone, at the brand’s frescoed flagship in Via Borgospesso.
“I wanted to do flowers everywhere, in all different dimensions, big and small,” said Rosita Missoni, who helms Missoni’s home collection, at the preview of its outdoor furniture line “Floral Galaxy.” The waterproof collection featured a lively floral pattern on sofas, foldable chairs and sunbeds peppered with striped poofs and pillows. All was showcased — where else? — in a bed of flowers.
Elegant, balanced and sophisticated was the mood at Hermès, where the French luxury company presented a collection focused on the combination of bull leather with oak wood and straw. This included the “Oria d’Hermès” range of chairs and armchairs inspired by a Sixties design by Rafael Moneo, as well as the Sellier sofa, which pays homage to the brand’s equestrian heritage. The collection, shown at a former theater in central Milan, also featured various small objects, from a magnifying glass to bowls to a top.
The Salone over the past few years has proven an economic boon to Milan, with more visitors and higher spending during the week of the design show than during the city’s seasonal fashion weeks. The brands showing home items were literally too numerous to count but here are some of the standout presentations by fashion brands during Design Week:
• Louis Vuitton expanded its Objets Nomades collection, consisting of a range of portable interior design pieces, with Chaise Longue, designed by Dutch designer Marcel Wanders. The piece consists of three foldable modules crafted from high-tech carbon fiber with one face covered with soft leather and the other with suede.
• Bulgari dedicated an installation to its B.zero 1 jewelry collection, which was unveiled this year in white, yellow and rose gold. Conceived by London-based architect studio NaNA, the triangular construction stood in the garden of the Bulgari Hotel and featured 18 interlocked steel rings, which were illuminated throughout the night in the gold shades of the collection. “We wanted to combine classic architecture and classic art and wanted to bring in a spacious installation, that people could actually enter,” said NaNA’s cofounder Ermis Adamantidis.
• Marni launched a collection of home furnishings and accessories with a colorful blast, staging a party where the entertainment was Cumbia, a Colombian dance for couples. Female dancers wore long patchwork Marni circle skirts — there were extras for guests to try on during the event — while male dancers wore Marni scarves. The new furniture collection has a jaunty, Sixties retro feel, and is made from metal, wood and hand-woven PVC cord. There were rocking chairs — some of them two-seaters; lounge chairs; floor lamps, and cocktail tables done in a rainbow of earthy colors and jungle bright tones — all in keeping with the fashion house’s bold patterns and palette. The limited-edition items were made in Colombia by a group of women who are professional artisans, and a portion of sales will be donated to the Vimala Association, which supplies food to refugee centers in Tibet. The skirts — done in Marni fabrics — are on sale exclusively on Marni’s Web site from this week.
• Antonio Marras reinvented his Circolo Marras headquarters to host a colorful floral market and a temporary restaurant offering the best of Sardinian cuisine by chef Roberto Serra. In addition, the fashion designer collaborated with art firm Eligo to create a special installation crafted from a 12.5-mile yarn, which gives shape to a sort of labyrinth. This becomes the background to showcase a collection of terracotta bottles hand-painted by Marras himself. The Nonostante Marras store also carries a range of special products, including cushions handmade by a Sardinian textile cooperative, metallic sculptures developed in collaboration with BAM, as well as multicolor ceramic vases by Tuscan Ceramiche Vignoli.
• No. 21 creative director Alessandro dell’Acqua combined the brand’s romantic style with the graphic appeal of Kartell’s Tatì lamp by Ferruccio Laviani. The designer covered the rectangular table lamp with macramé lace available in a sophisticated color palette of powder pink, black and white.
• Nike tapped 10 contemporary designers to interpret natural motion in different objects, using the brand’s materials, such as shoelaces and the Flyknit textile. The eight installations, presented in an industrial space, included an intelligent microclimate chair that regulates the body temperature of the seated person and aluminum and granite blocks that levitate above compressed air, which allows them to be moved easily. “For me personally and all 700 designers at Nike, the nature of motion and studying the body, how it moves, athletically and gracefully is a subject that we are in constant pursuit of understanding and are never quite finished,” said John Hoke, global creative director of Nike. “These 10 designers really came with open hearts and mind and had a willingness to explore together what this topic could be.” During Design Week, the brand also launched its new running shoe NikeLab Free RN Motion Flyknit exclusively in Milan.
• Loewe creative director Jonathan Anderson selected six oak interior design pieces from the beginning of the 20th century — including two armchairs, a cabinet, a lamp, a table, a screen and a dresser — and customized them with leather intarsia to recreate various motifs, from flowers to Japanese carps. These also appear on a limited-edition notebook and a clutch available at Loewe’s stores.
• Swarovski launched its Atelier Swarovski Home collection, which featured the works of nine young and established designers and artists. Ron Arad contributed with crystal numbers, whereas the late Zaha Hadid created a centerpiece made of metal and crystal. “I feel sadness when I look at her piece, but at the same time excitement because her spirit is so well conveyed in this piece and her spirit lives on from her work,” said Nadja Swarovski.
• Milanese jewelry company Buccellati collaborated with Murano-based luxury glassmaker Venini on a limited-edition collection of vases, bowls and vodka glasses. Called “Caviar,” the line combines hand-blown glass with a textured effect with Buccellati’s staple hammered silver.
• Salvatore Ferragamo renewed its partnership with interior design firm Molteni to present the “Materia” installation, showing a range of textiles featuring three different patterns, from a tropical motif to a print recalling the Vienna straw.
• Luisa Beccaria teamed up with artist Coralla Maiuri to develop the “Visioni” project. This includes a range of vases and ceramic jars combing the fashion brand’s romantic and hyper-feminine aesthetic with Maiuri’s love for natural elements. The creations are decorated with patterns and applications ranging from flowers and fruits to little 3-D animals. The fashion brand, created by the namesake designer with her daughter Lucilla Bonaccorsi, also reproduced the same motifs on a limited edition collection of gowns.
• Italian luxury accessories brand Rodo marked its 60th anniversary with a special edition of small structured handbags created in collaboration with textile designer Chiara Grifantini. Each of the 60-16 Celebration Bags, in a limited number of 60, is entirely made by hand and unique, with Italian and French fine linen painted by Grifantini. The hues in the motifs range from gold ochre and brown to green, purple and blue with inlays in complementary colors. Thin golden leaves light up some of the motifs.
• Luca Boffi, founder of Luca Boffi, all round design, and Eurojersey SpA collaborated on the project “The Sensitive Design,” which challenged industrial designers Manuela Bucci and Karim Rashid to use Eurojersey’s stretch, patented Sensitive Fabric in furniture. Bucci created a pouf and three soft chairs with a rigid seating area, whereas Rashid conceived a hexagonal sofa and armchair system with piping and removable covers. “For many years I thought why isn’t there more of a convergence of fashion and design,” Rashid said. “The furniture industry is very conservative at the end of the day and I think the digital age we live in is about performance, new casualism, a new ease of existence, so this project is about real comfort mentally, but also physically.”
• Lighting company Nemo worked with a range of international designers to update its luxury line. For example, Doriana and Massimiliano Fuksas designed a collection of wall lamps with long, adjustable arms and a diffuser guaranteeing a 360-degree LED emission, while Paris-based Charles Kalpakian developed 3Tubes, a suspension lamp featuring three asymmetric prongs, available both in white and copper.
• Pomellato’s sister brand Dodo teamed with Italian designer Matteo Cibic, who realized a range of ceramic sculptures in the shape of cute anthropomorphic animals in white and gold. These decorated the window of the brand’s Milan flagship on Corso Matteotti, as well as the two floors of the store.
• Artist Lorenzo Vitturi reinterpreted the colorful world of Valextra’s leather accessories in a range of pieces mixing photography with sculpture. Vitturi also realized a totemlike artwork installed at the center of Milan’s Valextra store.
• Etro presented during Milan Design Week the latest chapter of its “The Circle of Poets” projects, involving 11 young Milanese personalities who work in different artistic endeavors, from music and tattoos to art and architecture. For the occasion, Cesare Rimini presented a collection of origami-inspired paper lamps; architect Matteo Ciabattini unveiled a chair and a table crafted entirely from wood, and artist Jacques Leo offered a live performance decorating Etro Home’s flagship with signature curved motifs.