A Super Strength Salone Del Mobile

Absence may not always make the heart grow fonder, but it certainly made Salone stronger. Our take on the Milan fair and showrooms was overwhelmingly positive. We took a ten-strong team with us to visit the fair and the Milan showrooms (Fuori Salone) and everyone agreed that this was one of the most vital and vibrant expositions we’ve been privileged to take part in for a very long time.

At Tollgard, we don’t love to talk about trends because they suggest a fast fashion take on design that’s faddy and unsustainable. We like to look for future classics, so here is our take on the focus – and maybe some future classics – we found at the fair.

Our top 4 trends from Milan Design Week…

We distilled what we found interesting into four linked concepts: soft shapes | strong materials | soft divisions | strong natural thread.

1. Soft Shapes

Soft shapes is probably the strongest trend and confirms what we saw in Paris earlier this year. Why draw a straight line when a curved one is so much more inviting, both ergonomically and aesthetically? Products from Meridiani, Galotti & Radice, Molteni & C, Linteloo, Piet Boon, Giobagnara, Scavolini, Giopato & Coombes, Tacchini, Van Rossum, Baxter, Henge, Ceccotti Collezioni, Giorgetti and La Manufacture feature in our edit, but this movement was current across the fair and in the showrooms. It’s definitely one that’s here to stay.

Speaking of softness … Meridiani’s stand was a minimal masterpiece. A breath of icy fresh air, the stand took a trip into a Japanese inspired haven, showcasing the latest pieces in a variety of ever-so-slightly colour tinged whites and neutrals.

2. Strong Materials

Strong materials abounded: maximalism rather than minimalism where nature’s stones, metals and woods have been creatively worked to achieve maximum visual impact.

We loved the functional sculptures from Henge, especially their extraordinary kitchen islands. Strong kitchens was another trend that we felt pushing through – kitchens that don’t try to hide – but really express their presence in open-plan living areas.  Exteta and Molteni respectively showcased outdoor and indoor kitchens that grabbed our attention and didn’t let go.

Strongly figured marbles abounded – from Henge, but also from Exteta, Giorgetti, Cattelan Italia, De Castelli, Van Rossum and Agape.  Their green bath is a new favourite.  Just a little too big to bring home.

3. Soft Divisions

As a counterpoint, ‘soft divisions’ is a trend we are seeing to softly divide open-plan spaces using a variety of screens, open joinery, shelving systems and planting to create more human-sized spaces. We were impressed by what we saw at Baxter, Henge, Rimadesio, Porada, Flexform, Molteni & C, and Meridiani.

In particular, Flexform‘s showrooms and stand used their new woven screens as an effective design fence, sheltering compositions and creating a sense of privacy with a natural, organic feeling.

4. Strong Natural Thread

There is no question that Mother Nature was one of the stars of the Fair. The best stands created outdoor spaces to escape to – even when their outdoor offering only plays a smaller part in their overall brand.  This strong natural thread probably reflects an ongoing commitment to sustainability as well as the strengthened connection with nature born out of lockdown.

Both in the fair and in their new flagship showroom Flexform led the pack in creating an outdoor oasis. Their woven screens and their large-scale planters helped to create intimate, airy zoning in open-plan spaces – something we think we will see a lot more of.

Baxter had a Palm Springs / Mojave desert outdoor vibe that was a great fit for their sculptural outdoor offerings, complete with outdoor leather that we are looking forward to using.

There was a lot of covered outdoor spaces, including a very atmospheric set from Kettal which made us feel as though we were in the Med somewhere and a beautiful planted mini garden from Golran.

We loved the woven pieces from Knoll , Flexform and woven accessories from Giobagnara that beckoned the outside in.

Giorgetti and Exteta had some beautiful outdoor pieces that we are looking forward to using – some of which our team have comfort tested already!

Each of the Tollgard divisions – Studio, Showrooms, Contracts and Product Design – found inspiration and insight at the Fair and in the Milan showrooms.  We’ve returned with renewed enthusiasm for this incredible industry we work in and really look forward to sharing our finds with you.

Let us know if we can help on your next design journey, or if you would like any more information about any of the pieces or brands mentioned in this trend edit.