A Designer At Heart-Salone del Mobile 2018-cover

My TOP 10 design finds at Salone del Mobile 2018

Hello design lovers!

I’m just back from the Milan Design Week (April 16th-22nd). As usual, there were two parts: Salone del Mobile 2018 (Rho fair) and Fuorisalone 2018 (spread all over the city).

If you follow me on Instagram you know it’s a big deal for me. And you’d also know that one of my teachers back in 2013 said interior design students were allowed to snort cocaine if they needed a boost of energy to make the most of the design week! Obviously he was joking but this gives you a hint of how much we care about the most important week of the year.

Salone del Mobile 2018

I went to Rho fair on Tuesday 17th and I was very excited because I was going to interview Paola Navone at 11:30 am. And this was a big thing for me. I had never interviewed anyone before and she is a pillar of Italian design so I was all excited. I got this great opportunity thanks to Elisabetta from Italianbark, who is writing a super cool e-book about Milan Design Week 2018 and she asked me to help her out with the interviews. Obviously I accepted immediately ūüėČ

Click here if you want to subscribe & get an early copy
A Designer At Heart-Salone del Mobile 2018-entrance

Courtesy of Salone del Mobile, Milano. © Diego Ravier

Everything started really nicely. In fact, while I was queuing to get my press pass (I forgot to do it online in advance!) I met Marita from Lost in Design. I used to read her blog and she recognised my Italianbark business cards, so we started chatting. She was so nice to show me around the press room and tell me a lot about her experience, dealing with both careers as interior architect and blogger (things I still have to get my head around!). In her case she is also a mum, I don’t know how she manages to do everything (maybe it’s a superpower you get when you become a mum?).

Anyway, once again I felt part of a community (this happens all the time when you start blogging, especially in the interior industry I think). And I was happy and ready to start my visit.

A little word…

This year I’ve seen the design week in a new light: as a design blogger I knew I wasn’t just going there to get inspired, but also to share my finds with you. I don’t want to approach it with the need to report all the must-see locations. What I want to offer is my point of view as interior architect. Stick around if you want to read my honest opinion and discover what I would specify in real interior projects.

So here they are:

My TOP 10 design finds at Salone del Mobile 2018


1. Gervasoni

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Carve 07 by Paola Navone

Ok, this may seem obvious but I’ll write it anyway: when you interview a designer you discover A LOT more about his/her work!

For example, when the PR showed me the new collection I was immediately attracted by this super cute armchair. Its organic form in contrast with the black timber is really intriguing. The PR said it’s supposed to look like a sculpture, a one-off piece, and that’s actually the case. But then I spoke with Paola Navone who designed it (she designs all the Gervasoni’s pieces) and she told me much more. In fact, despite being an African inspired piece, she figured out how to make it only after a trip to China, where she discovered a special technique to carve wood.

I’m not going to spoiler everything (I’ll leave you the pleasure to read the full interview in the e-book) but let’s say that I was surprised and inspired by her incredible urge to travel and discover different ways of doing design. She doesn’t stop there, she also takes all the discoveries and creates something brand new out of them. Something innovative that didn’t exist before. As a young designer, I take this as the biggest lesson from Milan Design Week 2018 and I aim to do the same in my career. It may seem obvious but I think it’s not.

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2. Diesel Living

This was an easy one: I LOVE Diesel Living, I honestly have a soft spot for this brand. They are not scared of using black and they make luxury pieces that are at the same time innovative, understated and with a distinctive edgy/rock flavour. What’s not to love?

At Salone del Mobile 2018, they created a stand made of different rooms with the common theme of a Mexican hotel. They wanted us to explore what it’s like to be a guest of Diesel.

Stud black wood floor – Diesel with Berti

My favourite piece was the stud black wood floor. I had already seen it in the catalogue while I was in London and I was already wondering how to convince my clients to buy it. The fair was my opportunity to see it installed and now I can say I like it even more!

© Diesel Living

They describe it as “Wooden tiles characterized by geometrical marquetry that recall studs and rivets typical of the Denim language. It’s a high quality product, which gives a rock interpretation to classical decorations“.

WreckingBall pendants – Diesel with Foscarini

Right image © Diesel Living

Another piece with a powerful personality is the WreckingBall pendant. When off, it looks like pure metal and the lamp seems to vanish. Then the glass sphere turns into a lamp and into light when it is turned on. The chain is covered in fabric tubing: another sign of an urban character, a reminder of the chains used to lock motorcycles.

Again, classic themes and urban signs are mixed together in a cocktail of absolute rock spirit.

Iron Maden table – Diesel with Moroso

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The Iron Maden table (seriously, how cool is the name?) was showcased in a “Never-ending Lounge” where an implausibly long couch grabbed everyone’s attention. In fact, it was impossible to take a photograph without people in ūüôā

3. House of Finn Juhl

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© House of Finn Juhl

If you attended Salone del Mobile at least once in life, you know there usually comes a time (around 5:30pm) when you start feeling very tired, wondering if there’s anything else you could still see in those last 15 minutes before getting to the subway. And hopefully make it a couple of minutes before everyone else. I was in this precise state of mind when I passed by the Finn Juhl stand, and the furniture stopped me on my way.

© House of Finn Juhl

I loved the Mid-century design, with a hint of Japanese style. Such an unusual mix!

I asked the PR and he told me a great story: the pieces are a vintage design that was first presented to the public in 1948. The German designer – Finn Juhl – was considered the “most imaginative furniture designer”. His attention to details was insane, he believed that you can only experience and achieve¬†entirety through the smallest of details. Shapes are organic, delicate and meant to fit the body and help it rest.

Finn Juhl was a lot influenced by Japanese style and that for me was clear at a first glance. But it looks like his ideas reached a bit too far into the future and he didn’t become an international success.

2018 seems to be the perfect time to bring this range back to life, hopefully the world is now ready for it. I am.

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© House of Finn Juhl

4. Very Wood

I decided to have a look at this stand because it was right beside Gervasoni, I didn’t know that the brand is actually part of Gervasoni group. Looking at the new collections, there was one piece that immediately caught my attention: the Filla 11 chair by Michele De Lucchi.

Filla 11 by MIchele De Lucchi

‚ÄúThe Filla name is short for chlorophyll‚Äď‚Äďand chlorophyll means leaf.¬†It’s a lightweight ash wood chair with back legs that branch out to support the two giant leaves that form the backrest. The chair brings to mind the importance of breathing, fresh air, and the green plants that silently and benevolently release oxygen into the atmosphere” – Michele De Lucchi

What I really like of this chair is that the organic natural references are at the same time powerful and subtle. Also, the chair is super comfortable: I was worried that I would feel weird, given the fact that the back is cut in two parts. What happens when you sit instead is that surprisingly you feel it as if it was a unique piece, just more flexible. Therefore more comfortable. I found it so interesting that I had to add it to this list!

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© Very Wood

5. Missoni Home

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Horoscope collection

I always make time for Missoni Home when I visit Salone del Mobile. They never fail me.

One of my very first little blog posts was in fact about the Missoni Home stand at Salone del Mobile 2016.

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© Missoni Home

This year at the fair they presented the Horoscope collection, which is particularly beautiful. It’s inspired by a set of boards with the Chinese horoscope signs, designed by Piero Zuffi and bought from Ottavio Missoni in the 80s. The old design is now back to life.

In the boards there are also some ideograms, designed with a delicate geometric precision and Yin & Yang colour balance. They created a textile pattern for sofa covers, sheers, rugs, poufs and tactile fabrics. The 12 boards inspired by the lunar calendar have been embroidered on silk cushions, throws and chair covers.

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6. Citco

© Citco

Hadriana table by Norman Foster

I bumped into Citco’s stand by accident. I didn’t know it but they have been working with marble since 1990, with the aim of “stripping marble of its material weight and making it seem light, versatile, easy to shape”. They sure know how to do it.

My approach to design is quite easy: I like quality and innovation. I don’t care how much a product costs, as long as it communicates something to me. I do the same with fashion: I have absolutely no problem at mixing high street clothes with designer pieces (when I find them on sale ahah!). But in the end I like the mix. And I’m sure Citco’s unique marble pieces would make a distinctive feature in any residential or commercial project.

It’s actually really high end: they are limited editions pieces designed by Norman Foster, Zaha Hadid, Daniel Libeskind and Jean Nouvel to name a few. Honestly, they bring marble to the next level.

7. Kartell

This is a must-see, and I know I said I wouldn’t do a must-see list but it would really be a crying shame not to visit Kartell.

This year their stand hosted an exhibition called Smart design for Smart people. There was a series of 3D moodboards (that’s how I call them). Eight platforms supporting prints, screens with inspirational images, furniture, accessories, lighting and textile. All together with a common theme.

The ones I liked the best were “outdoor”, “living” and “lights”.

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© Kartell

The concept behind this exhibition is that the world is evolving and becoming smart: we use smart devices and are surrounded by smart objects, and the future will also be smart.

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© Kartell

This is how they describe it: “Design becomes smart through technological innovation,¬†the use of objects and the materials used. To explain these key themes there is no need for superfluous elements or embellishments, but only simple language”.

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© Kartell

Toy. Design Moschino by Jeremy Scott

If I had to select a favourite piece from the new collection it would be Toy, a Teddy Bear shaped light in collaboration with Moschino. It goes in every nursery but also in grown-up rooms. I love when objects are so ironic, and still have a very simple concept and look.

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© Kartell

8. Caimi Brevetti

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The best thing that can happen at Salone del Mobile, is to find new suppliers you didn’t know before. Caimi Brevetti is one of my finds.

The company has over 60 years experience in the field of acoustic well-being. They bothered so much to create an experiential room to show visitors how much the sound quality change if you add even just one sheet of their sound-absorbing fabric. Also, they were the first in Italy to patent this fabric and the product is still leader in the market for its quality and beauty.

Here are my favourite two pieces from the new collection:

© Caimi Brevetti

Botanica is a sound-absorbing sculpture by Mario Trimarchi. It takes inspiration from the canopy of a big tree and it resolves any sound-related problems. Being at the same time a true decorative element. I think is great that they pay so much attention to the aesthetic of contract products.

© Caimi Brevetti

The other one that I really like is this series of¬†Snowsound sound-absorbing panels, created using Gi√≤ Ponti’s drawings. For them, the series serves as an example of how a dialogue between art and industry is necessary and should be the basis for any mass-produced product.

The beautiful, minimalistic panels look like artworks on their own. I would be happy to hung them in my home. Who could tell they’re “just” sound-absorbing panels?

9. Republic of Fritz Hansen

Big news is not only I interviewed Paola Navone on Tuesday, but I had an appointment to interview Christian Andersen (head of design at Republic of Fritz Hansen) the following day. So I decided to visit their stand and look at the new collection in advance.

There would be a lot to say – especially about the new collaboration between Nendo and Fritz Hansen which you can find at this link – but here I want to show you their New Objects collection.

© Republic of Fritz Hansen

One thing that me and Christian talked about during the interview is trends. He said Fritz Hansen are not first movers, they want their products to last a lifetime so they are careful when it comes to following trends.

You can read the full interview in the Italianbark e-book if you are interested.

But then he said that, despite how straightforward this choice may seem, it’s actually very difficult: “How do you do a product that is not in style during that time but it‚Äôs still appealing?”. And that’s the reason why they are becoming a bit more retail and detail oriented.

The New Objects collection is designed for people who want to have a Fritz Hansen piece in their homes. But don’t want to commit to a more expensive purchase.

The accessories that I liked among the others are: a basket in wood and veneer (easier to move alternative to magazine racks), the High Dot barstool which is a contemporary re-design of the three-legged Dot stool by Arne Jacobsen from the 1950s, children’s chairs and foldable tray tables.

© Republic of Fritz Hansen

What do you think? Did they manage to inject their attention to craftsmanship, quality and beauty even in the accessories? I think so.

10. DePadova

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I am a detail person. I can easily get stuck in the smallest of the details and miss the big picture. When I cook, I spend a ridiculous amount of time chopping vegetables in tiny pieces. All with the same volume and shape. Just for the sake of it, no one else notices.

When I design or visit design fairs, I can find a lot of inspiration in a little corner. De Padova stand gave me loads of these little inspirational corners!

Their furniture is very minimal at a glance. But then is plenty of amazing details, like the edge of the mirror above.

I also really appreciated how they styled their stand as there were many antique accessories like old books, art prints (just hung with black tape, for my pleasure) and even a set of antique skis and mid-century appliances. Still, the overall look was stylish and contemporary. A earthly paradise!

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Lots of inspiration here right? Some of the things are very different from each other and come from various backgrounds. But I like good quality details and innovative materials regardless of style… As long as it’s contemporary and not too girly ahah ūüėČ

I’d actually like to see what would happen mixing some of these finds. For example, can you see the Japanese-retro Finn Juhl armchairs and the Diesel Living rock timber floor used in the same room?

Leave a comment and let me know!


Unless otherwise specified, all images © Martina Pardo РA Designer At Heart

I am Martina, an Italian designer based in London. I spend most of my time designing interiors or writing about it. I also love travelling. You may find me walking around the East End of London, drinking coffee and stopping at every single bookshop I bump into.

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