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The city of Milan is polishing its silver and getting ready for houseguests, as more than 300,000 visitors are expected to attend the Salone del Mobile, the international design and furniture show, April 17 to 22.

While 2,500 exhibitors will present their collections at the fairgrounds, a whopping 454 events are scheduled around Milan to celebrate the Italian furniture industry, which last year generated 32 billion euros in sales, or $42 billion at average exchange.

This story first appeared in the April 11, 2012 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

Once again, Italian fashion brands will take the opportunity to unveil pieces from their bona fide home collections. Some, like Roberto Cavalli and Antonio Marras, will introduce their first home lines, as others keep expanding their product offer. Cases in point: Bottega Veneta’s latest line with Poltrona Frau and Diesel’s new kitchen by Scavolini.


Here are top themes emerging during Milan Design Week:

• Eco-friendly fabrics and low-impact lighting: Upcycling and recycling are key words.

• Shapes are either essential — very angular and geometric — or the complete opposite: extremely rounded and wavy.

• Colors are bold, with a striking rainbow of hues ranging from China blue and magenta to acid green.

• Prints a go-go. Furniture is embellished with floral and animal patterns.

• Craftsmanship and handmade treatments meet technology:  computer designs are elaborated by hand.

• Outdoors is the new black: the living room moves into the garden with sofas, chaise lounges and tables made to face all weather conditions.

• Multitasking: A table becomes a lampshade or a chair functions as a clothes hanger.

• Given today’s increasingly crammed spaces, kitchen furniture sheds some of its bare functional look and is integrated into the living room.

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